Author Topic: Woodworking for children  (Read 790 times)

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Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3402
Woodworking for children
« on: December 04, 2017, 01:46 PM »
A good friend of mine, who recently adopted the foster son who had been in her care for a couple of years, is making the decision to pull him out of school and begin home-schooling.  It's obviously a big decision, but one that she's taken time and careful consideration to arrive at.  He's an incredibly sharp kid, but due to the difficult living circumstances of the first couple of years, where he was at times living in abandoned buildings, he's got some extra behavioral/emotional stuff that make the rigid structures of the typical classroom a challenge, particularly when the teachers are not willing or able to give him the space and patience he needs to keep up (in fairness to the teachers, there is understandably sometimes only so much they can do when they have a classroom of other demanding kids to attend to).

My friend has asked me to consider in the future developing a woodworking component for his home-school curriculum, both as an end in itself and as a vehicle for learning math and computational skills.  He is 7 years old, so right at the age when he could start to learn some basics of hand tooling, but obviously only in a heavily supervised/guided fashion.

Just wondering if anyone out there has experience with this -- not necessarily home-schooling, but teaching woodworking to kids in a more structured way.  There seem to be a lot of resources online, but I want to try to be focused about my research and not simply grab the first few things that pop up.  Unfortunately, by the time I went through elementary and high school, shop class had already passed out of the curriculum, and so I don't have any direct experience to draw upon from when I was taught as a kid.
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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 605
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2017, 02:18 PM »
My son and I have been doing stuff with my 8 yr old granddaughter who enjoys woodworking.  One of the challenges is creating an environment where things are sized appropriately.  The full sized hand tools that we use most often are oversized for her.  About the biggest plane that she can comfortably handle, for instance, is a block plane.  Last time she was at my house, she enjoyed using my Lie Nielsen apron plane - it was ideal.  I got her a set of small butt chisels and then we made a mallet that was the right weight for her to use comfortably.  I'm continuing to work on building up a tool kit for her this Christmas.  I have some small Lee Valley planes that she can also use comfortably - but not the "miniature" series, which are actually a little too small for her.  The one full-size tool that she does pretty well with is a Nobex miter saw, which we also got from Lee Valley.  My son and I still do all of the sharpening for her, so training her to be careful with edges has paid off.

We pre-dimension wood for her that is matched to the project.  She can't handle the big planes and doing that work by hand would be too boring for her.

She needs a sturdy platform to work at the bench.  I'd eventually like to make her a right-sized MFT style bench, but that will have to wait a little.  Sometimes I sit her up on the bench to work.  The key is to get her the same leverage (for her size) that I have when I'm working.

No power tools, except for a small M12 screwdriver.  She doesn't have the strength to control the torque that many hand-held power tools put out, and most stationary machines are designed for adults.  The awkwardness of using a tool that is the wrong size and that requires adult strength just makes the safety issues unacceptable.

What we are doing is also a work in process, so please share any ideas that you come up with.

Offline Oldwood

  • Posts: 298
  • Alberta, Canada
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2017, 02:40 PM »
Lee Valley at one time had tools for children. I was not able to find a specific section so I don't know if it is still there. Leonard Lee said in a letter that he thought a lot of kids were put off of woodworking because they were given poor quality tools. (toys)

I agree with his assessment, they need tools that are sized accordingly but good tools if they are going to stay interested.

Carpentry was previously taught with hand tools only to give a basic understanding of the processes and then move to power tools once you mastered the hand tools. I think this is still the best way to introduce kids to the craft.

Good luck with it, sounds like fun.
Gerry
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
Confucius

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3402
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2017, 07:19 AM »
Thnaks for the replies -- I'll start looking for some appropriately sized tools.  And maybe get a scuffer block plane so that nothing happens to my LN when it inevitable gets dropped on the concrete floor of the shop...
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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 605
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2017, 08:33 AM »
All of the cheap metal planes get bad reviews for adjustability, flatness, out of square, you name it...  You might get good used one somewhere.

I've used Japanese block planes for rough work.  They are more fussy to adjust, but they cut nicely and if you drop them on the concrete, it's easy to fix.  Amazon has a couple of good ones for <$20.  As a matter of fact, I think I just got the Christmas idea that I needed for my kiddo. Fortunately her dad has a lot of experience adjusting Japanese planes.

Offline Reiska

  • Posts: 1158
  • Hackers build things, Crackers break them.
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2017, 09:11 AM »
When I was a kid and did shop class in school we didn't get to touch any power tools before 6th grade (14yo) by ourselves and we only got to use the table saw and work with metal and welding after age 16.

We started off with simple projects like building bird houses, coat racks, xmas trinkets, simple candle holders (think a board with 4 holes drilled into it) and small boxes with hand tools only. The teacher would have the boards thickness planed for us and we started from figuring out the drawings, transferring the cut lines onto the boards, measure twice, cut once, etc. then planing, sanding, hammering stuff together with nails when small and graduating to screws and finally glue joints at a later age. I think we got to start painting / applying finish around 10yo under supervision.

At age 7 maintaining concentration for even hand sawing can be a challenge and if the kid has emotional issues banging on a nail can relieve stress in itself. Adult sized tools are an absolute no-go as that frustrates kids faster than lightning (I know, I've been trying to teach my son this stuff for the last 5 years and he's now 10).

I got some children sized tools from Bauhaus like a small saw, short chisels and shorter screwdrivers. He also gets to use my Festool CXS for screwing nowadays, but a few years back if you left him with it for two seconds you could guarantee there was a screw going into a wall or a piece of furniture in the house by the time you turned back to him.

At least with my son it seems that it really doesn't matter what we do as long as we do it together even if together just means I support the weight of a board while he's working on it and be present.

Also I've learned the hard way that small kids cannot handle abstract concepts at all, so you need to really dumb down your teaching with a 7yo person as they'll just get frustrated if you quiz them with things they find complicated like "if you want five hooks evenly spaced over your 100cm coat rack, how much is the gap between the hooks if you need to leave 10cm at each end unused?" just tell the kid to measure a hook spot every 16cm starting from 10cm... Make it a teachable moment at a later date when they hit like 11-12yo  [wink]
The sky's the limit in my workshop, literally. [big grin]

Offline jaguar36

  • Posts: 184
    • Toolamanjaro.com
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2017, 10:27 AM »
I've done a few projects with my 7 year old so far and I don't force her to use only hand tools.  I remember having to do that as a kid and finding the whole experience very frustrating and boring.  I've let her use the bandsaw, tablesaw and drill press (Well really a bridgeport) as well as a DTS400 and a 12-volt impact driver. 
With the bandsaw I do it with her, making sure to keep her hand far away from the blade.  We were just cutting a shape out so accuracy didn't matter much.  Tablesaw was a Sawstop and was just cutting some very shallow blade width dados, also holding her hands.  With the birdgeport I'm able to clamp the workpiece down to the table, and then they can move the whole table around to line up the drill bit.  Once its lined up, they can pull down the quill all by themselves, all the while never coming close to the spinny bits. Even had my 4 year old drill a couple of holes. The 12volt impact driver and DTS are both small enough she was able to use them reasonably well with a little help.

Most of the projects so far have been small throwaway type stuff, where they've done a few of the cuts or screws but I've done the majority of the work.  I then let them sand (they don't do a great job sanding it, but who cares) and paint it which they love.  We're going to start building a desk in a few weeks, and I plan on having her be more involved with that as she's older now.  The biggest issue I have is that she is to short to be able to use my fairly tall work bench, so I need to slap together a stool for her.

Obviously I never let them in the shop unsupervised, always wear safety glasses, hair tied back, ear protection and all that other good stuff.

Offline T. Ernsberger

  • Posts: 836
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 07:40 PM »
I do woodworking with my 6 year old daughter and she has a blast doing it.  Plus it’s nice she wants to hang out with me in the shop.  I normally premake items,  it’s glue ups, sanding and using the txs.

Offline Pnw painter

  • Posts: 117
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2017, 12:35 AM »
It's great to see others introduce their kids to wood working. My son is 4 and this thread reminds me that I should start introducing him to word working.




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Offline Bert Vanderveen

  • Posts: 385
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2017, 07:11 AM »
This webshop has an extensive and inspiring overview of woodworking tools for children (or i.o.w. that can be used by them):
https://www.fine-tools.com/kinderwerkzeug.html

Should give you some ideas about what to get or use.
Cheers, Bert Vanderveen

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Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3402
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2017, 10:24 AM »
Speaking of safety, just thinking back to some lessons I learned early on.  When I was 5, after watching my Dad use a paint scraper on some windows I took the name of the tool a bit too literally, and wandered down to the shop alone later that day and tried scraping some paint off a piece of wood.  I was scraping in the direction of the hand that was holding the board, and when the tool inevitably slipped, I earned my first tool-induced visit to the hospital, which has left me with this visible reminder ever since.   

272242-0

I've done a few projects with my 7 year old so far and I don't force her to use only hand tools.  I remember having to do that as a kid and finding the whole experience very frustrating and boring.  I've let her use the bandsaw, tablesaw and drill press (Well really a bridgeport) as well as a DTS400 and a 12-volt impact driver. 
With the bandsaw I do it with her, making sure to keep her hand far away from the blade.  We were just cutting a shape out so accuracy didn't matter much.  Tablesaw was a Sawstop and was just cutting some very shallow blade width dados, also holding her hands.  With the birdgeport I'm able to clamp the workpiece down to the table, and then they can move the whole table around to line up the drill bit.  Once its lined up, they can pull down the quill all by themselves, all the while never coming close to the spinny bits. Even had my 4 year old drill a couple of holes. The 12volt impact driver and DTS are both small enough she was able to use them reasonably well with a little help.

Most of the projects so far have been small throwaway type stuff, where they've done a few of the cuts or screws but I've done the majority of the work.  I then let them sand (they don't do a great job sanding it, but who cares) and paint it which they love.  We're going to start building a desk in a few weeks, and I plan on having her be more involved with that as she's older now.  The biggest issue I have is that she is to short to be able to use my fairly tall work bench, so I need to slap together a stool for her.

Obviously I never let them in the shop unsupervised, always wear safety glasses, hair tied back, ear protection and all that other good stuff.
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline Rob Lee

  • Festool Dealer
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    • Lee Valley/Veritas
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2017, 10:53 AM »
Hi -

One of my favorites (as a child) was a small 1/4" drive socket set of my father's (I still have it). It's not an immediately obvious choice for woodworking - but kids may find it easier to drive screws using a small ratchet (esp if you use square recess).

Sockets sets let you take apart many things (and hopefully put them back together!) which encourages handwork in general...

Cheers -

Rob

Offline Dane

  • Posts: 302
Re: Woodworking for children
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2017, 11:19 AM »
I taught woodworking at a boys camp for a number of years.  They were all about 11 by the time they went to camp, and by that time we had them building boxes using hand saws and simple joints.  My son is 7 and can use an M12 to drive screw through pilot holes to fasten things, use a small handsaw etc...I’m thinking of making him some “kits” where I pre cut the pieces to some project, mark places for drillling holes and some easy cuts.  Then give him an instruction sheet like his legos have.  I feel like after he has assembled a few of those, he will start being able to design his own simple things and I can move on to teaching him about marking stock and see if he can get more independent.  At this age, I feel like if they have some constraints on certain widths of boards, like large legos, they can be creative about designing and assembling.