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Are you an avid woodworker who would like to enjoy working on a woodworking project with a child? With this article, learn how to work together with a youngster on exciting building projects, use real plans and real tools! Remember that all power tools should be used by an adult and all projects should be undertaken with adult supervision.
Before starting a project with a child, have them understand “If you don't know how to use a tool properly, ask someone for help.” This would generally be thought of as a safety tip, but it can also make the project easier and help with professional type results.
As the instructing adult, you must remember to do simple things such as unplugging tools, hanging up (or removing) sharp tools. Remember to have the children dressed appropriately: tie back long hair, remove watches and jewelry, do not wear loose fitting/baggy clothing, proper shoes, safety glasses or goggles, dust masks and hearing protection. Whenever kids are in the shop, they receive constant attention. Remember, no amount of caution will completely eliminate the possibility of an accident. That's why a properly stocked first-aid kit is essential in every workshop, and basic first-aid training is well worth the investment of time.
Encourage the kids to use their imagination and sketch out their own ideas as this will encourage them to be engaged and enjoy more of their experience. Work together with them to lay out the project with a realistic time line and a detailed step by step process.
For younger children are developing their fine motor skills, choose materials that are easy to cut. Styrofoam blocks are easily manipulated using hand tools or even sandpaper. Cork boards or old ceiling tiles can teach kids to hammer nails and drive screws. As skills and developmental skills improve, introduce softwoods such as cedar and pine. You can find these in the scrap bin or purchased from your lumber dealer at a nominal cost.
Since most children have not developed the ability to operate power tools, the manual alternatives should be used for projects. A backsaw replaces the chop saw, a coping saw can be used in place of the bandsaw or a scrollsaw, a brace and bit instead of an electric drill, and elbow grease and a sheet of sandpaper will do the job of a power sander. When the children are older or ready to move onto power tools, gradually introduce them to equipment that's easy to manage and not frightening. Electric sanders and power drills are easy to control and low on the danger scale. For cutting wood, start with the scrollsaw as the cutting action is not very aggressive and it's relatively quiet. This will potentially decrease any fright that the child may experience.
Equipment All Their Own
Smaller youth glasses and goggles are meant for five- to 12-year-olds [Child Safety Goggles about $5, Youth Safety Glasses about $10]. You can protect their hands with work gloves designed for little fingers. There are even Youth Apron’s available for around $17. Save their hearing with soft-tipped corded ear plugs. All products available from www.leevalley.com .
Sign your child up for the free kids' program offered at most Home Depot building centres . Kids are provided with the materials and tools required to assemble a precut kit that they take home. As well, there is a similar program called the Little Hammers Club , which is offered by many Rona building centres. Visit the your local library as an excellent source for books that focus on woodworking with children.
Don't forget we have some great free children woodworking plans on our site for download: Free beginner woodworking plans.
You can also read our Woodworking with School Aged Students post for more great ideas.