Sunday, June 30, 2013

When does it become "Woodworking"?

Last weekend, a few families planned a kid's carnival party at our place, complete with Plinko, knock down games, even cotton candy, popcorn, and bounce house. Somewhere in the planning, we talked about renting a dunk tank, decided it was too much and forgot about it until looking at the weather forecast a couple days prior to the event, 0% chance of rain and 95°*. Then I got the crazy idea to DIY something over our little pool...

Well to make a short story long, I figured out how to make one (simple mechanism with a lever, a $3 door latch and some hinges) pulled out some 2x4s, drywall screws, and plywood remnants from who knows when, cut, screwed, and painted the whole thing with left over hot pink from my daughter's room. In no time, I had something that would make quite a splash at the party. (sorry, couldn't resist)

It was so impressive, that there is no way that I would post pics, for fear of posterity... It was .... good and fun enough for a single event and made from parts (except for the latch) that were already a couple steps toward the burn pile. It was a complete and total hack in my mind, but in reality I had worked it from wood, so it must be woodworking, right...? If someone proudly showed this dunk device to demonstrate their woodworking skill, I wouldn't have thought "oh a kindred spirit", I would have changed the subject to cameras...

Some weeks prior over on etherfarm, Narayan was talking about kid's projects and it reminded me of an early project that my young padawan would enjoy (a rubber band paddle boat). So one night without any planning, we gave it a shot and without much ado (or the requisite rubber band) we had a boat. The next day, with daylight (and a rubber band), we set sail in the backyard pool. He didn't finish every cut, but he did enough to show his potential and to stay engaged from layout to final assembly. I'm pretty sure he could make another completely on his own behind my back if he thought he'd be getting away with something.

But again, I get to thinking "DIY hack", not "Woodworking" proper.

I pour through my memories back to the summer of  '84 when I too was 8. That's when my dad showed me all I needed to know to become such a shipbuilder... Prior to that I had taken his off-cuts, and added nails to make "coat racks" maybe even splashed on some paint. But this is my earliest memory of a project in "woodworking". Where unattended and with (coping) saw in hand, I could actually make something tangible that was previously only inside my head.

I don't really care whether it's called woodworking, DIY, hacking, or "making" nor does it matter what future direction his projects go, but if it means a lifetime of creating, learning and growing, then that's a good enough start for me.

*Actually it poured, but still had a great time.


  1. When children are involved in making something with their hands, I don't care if it is meddling, fiddling, DIY, woodworking or something else. I just enjoy that they get a chance to make something with their own hands and their imagination.
    I would say that whittling a stick is woodworking as well, since the child will develop a sense of the material (wood ) and the tool and the relationship between their hands and their brain.
    Thumbs up for making something the kids can enjoy, so they might one day do the same to their kids.

  2. Thanks Jonas. You certainly set a good example in getting children involved. I enjoyed reading about your soldering adventures. Metalwork isn't my strong suit, but I'll be on the look out for some scraps after your example!

  3. Great story, great experience with kids, making memories-priceless.