I had lunch with a friend yesterday who has a 9-YO son. He describes
his son as "kinetic"...a lot of spare energy, always wanting to do
something with his hands. So my friend knows I'm an amateur ww'er,
and he said he thought ww'ing might be something interesting for his
son to get into. Not having kids myself, I haven't a clue how to
relate to the boy. I could show him my shop, or I could suggest some
books, or...I dunno. Y'all got any ideas? How do you take a kid who
doesn't know anything about the hobby and show him what it's about,
enough to see if he's interested?
Good timing. Spent time this summer with neighborhood kids
making things so far from things I build to be pleasantly
refreshing. The kids were ages 5 to 9 and the projects
were mainly out of scraps and could be done in two days of
elapsed time - maybe two or three hours max of actual real
time - glue needs to dry. Here's the URL to this summer's
work (all one line)
In a year or two, he will find something fun to do with his hands... ;)
Kids are like horses--you can take one to water but you can't make him
drink. If the boy comes over with his father for a visit and you show
his dad (and him, but not specifically him) your shop, you can see if he
shows any interest whatsoever. If so, you could invite him to come back
"some time" to build something with you (like a skateboard). But don't
be surprised if he shows no interest whatsoever and don't fall victim to
his father's belief that he can choose what a boy that age will like to
do as a hobby.
My 10-year-old daughter likes the things I make and once in a while will
watch me work (but not for long). Sometimes she will ask for a block of
wood, a hammer and some nails. She likes to pound LOTS of nails into a
small piece of 2x4. (Maybe she will become an upholsterer later on!).
Her interest is very fleeting however, and in spite of invitations to
help me or to make something "real" herself, she is not interested.
My daughter also has lots of energy. This fall she wants to have an
activity outside school. She's trying to decide between a hiphop dance
class and taekwando. Since she needs more self-control and concentration
skills, I am gently encouraging taekwando, but its her call.
Your friend really needs to find out what his son LIKES and WANTS and
using that information, guide him toward an activity that he will enjoy
and stick with for a reasonable length of time.
Maybe the father is a latent woodworker. You could intiate him to the
hobby--after all, he's the one that brought the subject up.
Wise advice. Unless a kid is fascinated by an activity, there's zero hope of
forcing an interest. Expose a kid to the widest variety of experiences and
hope for the best. My eldest daughter is a far better woodworker than I am
today because she always wanted to be in the workshop with me, even as a
toddler. Her sister hasn't the slightest interest in anything mechanical.
Years ago the boy next door was forced into an NRA Junior Marksman program
which he had no interest in. He was fascinated by computers, though, and
spent every spare minute in front of mine when it was free. Today he's a
programmer, one of Microsoft's early "whiz kids."
I would say exposure should do the trick. My father was always making stuff
down in the basement... I have lots of fond memories hanging out down there
while he was working. Sometimes helping out, sometimes just watching. He
made me my own workbench just like his about 1/2 the size with a few simple
hand tools to putter around with. I've since started aquiring my own tools
and making a few things... nowhere near his level, but you gotta start
Anyway, my point being, if the kid is at all inclined that way (plenty are)
just letting them watch and experiment should foster an interest. Just keep
an eye on the little fingers.
Just relax once they see what a workshop is all about the kids will dream up
the projects for you.
I have built everything imaginable for the group of kids that hang around my
shop. I started out with swords made quickly out of scrap wood and now I
have built some of the most outrageous things you could ever imagine
including bugs. I even built a guitar.
I have been amazed at how long they remain focused on these projects. My
five year old and his friend once spent and entire day in the workshop with
me. That is a long long time for a five year old.
Shop safety is very important. The kids that come into my workshop always
wear safety glasses and respect my rules.
email@example.com (PC Gameplayer) wrote in message
Start with a project that can be finished in an hour or so. When Home
Depot has woodworking project for the kids, all the pieces are pre-cut
and ready to fit together. A CD-Rom case or baseball card (or is it
Yu-gi-oh cards this year?) holder or Lego display stand would work.
Find out his other interests.
Next project teach him how to saw straight. I teach my scouts how to
look down the blade of the saw and line up the top of the saw with the
mark on face and the side of the wood. Then I tell them that the saw
follows their elbow. If they get the elbow straight, the cut will be
Each successful project earns a new tool. (Isn't every project an
excuse to buy tools?) I start with giving one of those orange plastic
squares that they sell at Home Depot, then maybe a tape measure, then
a saw. Of course, now he needs a tool box to put the tools in.
Sounds like a good third or fourth project.
I've got five or six books on kids woodworking projects. Let me know
if I can help.
woodstrapper at yahoo dot com
The Borg has saturday WW courses for kids where they talk about tools
and tool safety and have the kids build a project. I watched one on a
Saturday morning and there were about 10 kids in the class, paying
*rapt* attention. Especially the boys who loved his graphic
description of WW accidents.
Vince Heuring ECE Department, University of Colorado - Boulder
To email, remove the Vince.
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