Interesting Woodworking Link

Monday, August 18, 2008

Episode #70 - Kids in the Shop, A Great Idea!

A great weekend in the shop with my son Matthew

Matt laying out his joinery

I just spent a wonderful three days in the shop with my son. Now, we weren’t in the shop the entire three days but suffice to say that our shop time was a significant part of some quality father-son time this weekend. My wife and daughter were out of town this weekend visiting friends in Central Oregon. My son Matthew and I stayed behind to start work on a community service project for his Boy Scout Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge.

Matt showing off his pine tree cutout detail

Our family has the opportunity to help a friend put the finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity home in Sisters, Oregon. We will assist with the installation of approximately 105 feet of fencing. Matt made the gate as a gift. He will also be part of the fence building crew.

Matt working with the Festool Domino
(looks like he's done this many times before!)

As a father, I got to witness the developing personality of a wonderful young man. Matt has done a number of woodworking projects. It is a real pleasure to watch him work with his hands. It was also a lot of fun to watch the excitement mount, as his cedar fence gate got closer to completion. This is by far his most complex project to date. As a Dad, I couldn’t help but smile when he shouted over the drone of a jig saw “Hey Dad, I want to help you clean up!”

Matt working on the cedar gate panel

The real telltale sign that he would someday have his own shop and likely relive this experience himself was when he picked up a scrap of 1/4” hardboard to write down our grocery shopping and errand list! Even more satisfying was the sense of pride Matt had when he gave his Mom the blow by blow detailed update over the shop phone. I smiled to myself and thought “life is good”!

Matt organizing his frame stock

I am a firm believer in getting young people into our shops. It is a sad that Industrial Arts are increasingly being dropped from school curriculums. I have fond memories of wood shop, auto shop and metal shop when I was in school. I am convinced that these experiences influenced me later in life. I am more apt to build or make something myself. I am pleased that a number of woodworkers on the Internet have focused on getting young people into the shop.

Matt telling Mom all the details!

The last forum project featured on The Rough Cut Show was a Shaker Step Stool. I was very happy to hear T-Chisel encourage forum members to “get a newbie into your shop for this project . . . your girlfriend or kids . . .” Craig Stevens has a wonderful woodworking blog, Woodworker’s Resource, that has a Just For Kids section. He also has a great book, Woodworking 101 for Kids available for sale.

If you have a son or daughter this would be an excellent start for getting them in the shop and developing some valuable life skills. This will likely give you as much satisfaction as your last tool purchase!

Matt using a router to cut out a pine tree in the panel

Another great example of getting kids into the workshop comes from Charles Neil with his UnPlug the Kids . . . a wonderful Sunday afternoon in his shop with some kids and their parents experiencing the joys of woodworking. Last, but not least, are the young woodworkers joining the ranks of more senior members on Lumberjocks. Check out the projects and contributions talented teenaged woodworkers on Lumberjocks, Tyler (aka Woodshopfreak), TheTeenageWoodworker, and The Timber Kid on Lumberjocks.

SketchUp detail of proposed fence gate

So, if you want the woodworking thrill of a lifetime, than get one of your kids in the shop. You won’t regret it!


Anonymous said...


Hey thanks for the great post. I couldn't agree more about getting our kids in the shop. If we (as woodworkers) don't do it, who will? It sure won't be our schools.

I appreciate the plug for my website as well!


David Pruett said...

Craig -

I agree 100% with your sentiment. Unfortunately Industrial Arts are increasingly absent from school curricula. It truly is up to the home woodworker to pick up the baton and provide exposure to the joy of woodworking.


Vic Hubbard said...


What a great gift you give your son. Not only your time, but the introduction to the wonderful world of woodworking!

David Pruett said...

Vic -

Always a pleasure to see a comment from you!

I have had so much fun with my son in the shop. Seeing the sense of pride and accomplishment is a real treasure. I am sure he will be reliving this someday with his son or daughter.


Vic Hubbard said...

My parents divorced when I was still in diapers, but Bob (my sitters husband) would take me down to round up and milk the cows, have me help him work on his White Freightliner, and even take me on hay runs. He taught me a good work ethic and many other lessons that have stuck.
I think it fantastic that you're there for your son!

David Pruett said...

Vic -

Sounds like good memories! I think working on a farm and messing with a White Freightliner would be a thrill for a young boy. There is something to be said for a good solid work ethic.

Kari Hultman said...

I totally agree that we need to steer our young people away from the computers and cell phones, and toward wholesome experiences where they can work with their hands and do things for others. You're a good dad!

David Pruett said...

Kari -

I agree with you 100% . . . it is so important to provide balance in the lives of young people. I think the computers and texting are here to stay but we need to reinforce the importance of working with your hands and the joy of creating. The joy and satisfaction of that beautiful carving on your bench comes to mind. I am glad my kids like to pop into the shop periodically and have an interest in picking up the tools and learning the craft.


David Pruett said...

Chuck -

Hey, thanks for the comment! Good to hear from you. I have followed your work & comments on The Ruough Cut Show. I trust I can give you a shout if I have trouble with the table? I will be starting with a step stool as that is on deck first as a Father-Son project. I will be posting updates and likely video.


Unknown said...

Hey must be pretty good for Daddio to let you use that new bench of his. I like that tree you routered....showing some chops for us are you????

David.......I see a name change coming: "The Folding Rule & Son Blog"

Very cool.........Neil

David Pruett said...

Thanks Neil! Matt & I had a great time in the shop. He was very proud of his work . . . so was his Dad.