Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Evil Plan

I introduced John in my last post.  Remember, he is getting some inherited hand tools from his neighbor, and would like me to teach him and his children some woodworking.  This sounds like a fun and interesting challenge.
Talk about cool old tools:  I have a 1960s era King Silver Sonic 2B, John has a New York Bach Model 6 from the 1930s.  Photo courtesy Jens Mueller.

One easy part of this idea is that John will get pretty much everything he needs for a hand tool wood shop from these donated tools.  The accompanying challenge will be to help him rehab the tools in order that he and his family have the best opportunity for success.  Tools in good shape will make this much easier than struggling along with junkers.  Having previously inspected the tools, there are some fine examples to work with.

Another easy part is that John and a few of his children seem eager to learn.  The accompanying challenge here is that I am pretty sure John and his kids have exactly zero experience with hand tools, and very little woodworking experience in general.  John mentioned something about Junior High Woodshop, but I think that is about all he knows.  Here is where we get to test the theory if truly anyone who might not think they have talent in that area can learn woodworking.  My thought is that if you can learn to play trombone, woodworking is not so hard in comparison.

Until we are able to clear a space and set up a wood shop, I have been looking for some appropriate projects for John and his kids.  I was thinking some projects that could teach some fundamental skills yet not be too difficult to finish in a relatively short time.  Also, I thought projects that could be easily looked up online or in a book to assist in self-learning.

Here is what I came up with:
  1. Some basic tools.  Either examples from Robert Lang, Christopher Schwarz, Jim Tolpin, Paul Sellers, Roy Underhill, or elements from all of the above.  A straight edge, a square, perhaps some winding sticks, and maybe a bench hook and a shooting board.  Not necessarily in that order, and perhaps we'll build them as we need them.
  2. A diagonal Chinese cross puzzle from William Fairham's Woodwork Joints.  This is a fun afternoon project that requires precision squaring of stock and paring.  
  3. The bible-box project from Peter Follansbee.  Except I think perhaps built in pine instead of green oak and without the carving.  At least for now.  This looks like a good, first project build.  Plenty of good skills on this one like rabbets, nails and hinges.  Using pine will make processing the stock a bit less traumatic for the kids.
  4. Richard Maguire's Hanging Wall Cupboard.  Another great project with a brilliant video showing how-to.  Some of the earlier projects may need a bit more one-on-one instruction, but with the video John and Sons should be able to do a few of these operations on their own.  Skills like a housed dado, toe-nailed pins, and clinched nails are something that will come in handy.  Another pine project that looks like real furniture should build confidence.
  5. Christopher Schwarz' Shaker Side Table.  This one has a DVD with more than four hours of instruction by someone who actually teaches woodworking.  I think it is a fantastic beginner's graduation project as it covers skills to build about 99% of all basic furniture joints:  tapered legs, mortise and tenons, gluing up panels, and constructing drawers with half-blind dovetails, all without being a year long project.  That reminds me, I should probably finish the Shaker side table I started last year!
John, I'd love to hear what you think of this list.  I would also love to hear from any other readers about what they think of my list of beginner's projects and what other projects might be suitable.

17 comments:

  1. Those are good projects for sure, perhaps you mentioned the age of the children I don't recal. But I would also recommend a six board chest or an Odate style carpenter box (perhaps sized for under bed storage) you also might expose the kids to the "I can do that" series and see if any grab their attention.

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    1. Hi Jeremy,

      The six board chest is a great idea. It is surprisingly simple, and would be great for beginners. Same with the Japanese tool box.

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  2. What is the age of the involved children?

    The shaker hanging cabinet by Chris Schwarz is something that looks like a million when finished, and it is fairly easy to make.

    Cutting boards can also be a rewarding project.

    Brgds
    Jonas

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    Replies
    1. Both good ideas. A cutting board might be a great project to get some instant results with. Plus, it can be either simple or a little more complex.

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  3. Hi Brian,
    Wow - those are all great ideas! For those who have asked - the children are aged 8 and 10. I'm open to any of those - except perhaps the Shaker Table - when I read that you (Brian) needed two days to digest the DVD I was thinking about myself and reckoned I'd need as many days to digest it as it would take me to grow a beard as long as Peter Follensbee - lovely bible box by the way!!
    Let's show the children some of the projects and then we can set them (and me) up with practicing the basics, getting used to the tools using scrap pieces of wood and then start!
    I'm looking forward to it!
    Regards
    John

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    1. Hi John, a sensible plan. You guys probably just will need a little instruction on how the tools work, then off you go. The kids will be a lot more interested if they like the projects, too.

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  4. what about starting with this:
    http://paulsellers.com/2013/12/video-of-small-christmas-projects/

    Sylvain

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    1. Hi Sylvain, now that it is not Christmas season, I forgot about these. Small projects for decoration are great things to do.

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  5. I made a fish shaped trivet described in Popular Woodworking with my children. It was long before I started blogging, so I haven't got any pictures of the process.
    But any trivet is a good project since it can be given away to grandparents, uncles/aunts, mom's etc.
    Brgds
    Jonas

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    1. Gifts are fun to make and can teach us a lot.

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  6. I love the trombones tools!

    I think you are going to enjoy this venture, Brian! And so will the "students". I like the idea of the bible box!

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    1. Hi Mom! I knew you would like both of those things.

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    2. My Mom will like that idea also! Regards. John

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  7. Brian, saw benches are a good project. You can go wild or mild on those things.

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    Replies
    1. Good idea, Charlie! What do you think about a sawbench for kids, though? Should they make it sized for them, or should they make it a bit oversize for growing in to? Since Dad and two boys are getting into this, perhaps they could all make one the same size for interchangeability? Ah, the possibilities!

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    2. "wild or mild"
      When you have gained enough experience you can try this:
      http://thecarpentryway.blogspot.be/2010/02/treteau-30-finis.html
      Sylvain

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    3. Wow, Sylvain, that is definitely wild! I have always been fascinated by Japanese joinery.

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