Learning teaching and making things happen with your children!

All my life I had stayed away from making things as I just didn't believe I could do it. Welding was magic and builders were gods! Then I reached an age that meant I didn't believe in magic anymore and just started to teach myself how to weld and how to make furniture. I was 41 when I started and now I'm seeing I wasted a lot of years where I could have been honing my skills.

Im a strong believer in keeping kids away from screens and gaming for as long as possible. When my son Samuel  aged 6, came up to me and asked to build himself a step so he could see properly out of his bedroom window, I  saw that as an opportunity to show him some of the things I had learned. I am a brash man with a lack of patience, so this building project was a learning experience for me as well as my son as I had to learn to be patient and how to be a teacher and not just say stand over there and do it all myself.

Samuel wanted a nice wooden step that would enable him to see over the windowsill and look into the garden and the woods behind our house. He had a vision and that is the most important part of any build! He asked for a step that had two side pieces and a flat piece on the top to stand on. It would be hollow under the step and he wanted to use the blow torch to give it texture. His words not mine but he was right! 

First things first we looked at my wood stash and he picked some wood which was thick enough not to bend and the piece was long enough to make the whole job. He knew we always use reclaimed materials but in his language it was a "rubbish piece!" The important thing is that he knew without being told to make these small builds for our home, we use left overs and reclaimed pieces.

Cutting comes after measuring and more measuring and he did every measurement and checked them all. I did the cutting because a six year old and a table saw don't mix. The cuts done he took over and sanded the three pieces so there were no jagged edges or splinters and also rounded the edges. I asked him why we did that and he told me it was so all was smooth and felt good when you picked it up! It was at this point I realised he had learned alot from listening to me talk about builds even before we walked into the workshop that afternoon.

He used the orbital sander and smoothed it all and I showed him how to use countersink drill bits to join the pieces together and then fill the screw holes  up with wood glue mixed with saw dust!  The best wood filler there is. Once they were screwed together and glued he sanded back the filler and all was ready  for the blow torch. I showed him how fast to move along the grain with the flame to burn the outside. I told him we do this to give the grain the ability to stand out on the wood. Some six months later he was asking me about whether I was going to "scorch my next build to give a deeper grain!" Children are sponges they absorb a lot and never ever think they aren't listening because they can reel out secrets months and years later and drop you right in the proverbial!

Once the grain was all scorched we lightly sanded the wood back leaving the grain showing through and showed Samuel how to apply stained wax to give it its final covering which also gives the whole piece a luster. The finished step is not complicated, it is not innovative but it was made for purpose and functions perfectly. More importantly my son and I had made our first piece together with not one crossed word or cut finger. He and I were both focused and l will be honest the pride I felt with and for him made me feel great. We had shown ourselves there was scope to work as a team and he is only 6 years old.

Why am I telling you this? Well because it is cool that's why! Also it shows that if a grumpy older male like myself can teach a boy how to make things for himself then you calmer more experienced people can do the same or similar with the knowledge you have and the children you have in your homes.

Children want to be with and learn from their parents when they are small and hopefully that will carry on as they grow. If nothing else it gives you a great excuse to be with and be engaged with your children! Samuel I know for sure loves my workshop but it means more now as he knows he can come with me and build things he wants instead of bowing to the great god Amazon and pressing a button and spending money!

I hope you are as lucky as me and get to engage with your kids in this way. The pieces I make and sell are to give my family a better life and if Samuel can carry that on later in his life  then that means I can relax when I get older for sure!

The finished article

6 comments

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  • I helped my Dad build loads of things and help fix his car and all sorts when I was little and I have no doubt that it is that experience that has left me able to fix and make stuff myself. I have no doubt that that step, however simple it may be in pure construction terms, will be a very special item in your and Samuel’s lives for a very long time, probably forever. It just goes to show that it’s not the monetary cost of something that makes it valuable.

    Lee

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