Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wooden Doll - First Independent Woodworking Project

So today the seed I hoped to plant with a hand-made tool tote and a few woodworking tools  began to sprout. My youngest came to me and said "We should start my first woodworking project." So I asked what she wanted to make: she had in mind building a playhouse for her dolls, which seemed a bit big for a first project. I suggested something else, like a toy horse. And she immediately hit upon making a doll.

I asked if she could draw what she had in mind. She sketched out a simple doll shape:

This seemed the perfect time to talk about wood rings and how that grain can create weakness. I drew a picture of the wood grain and how having it cross the arms could cause it to break under stress:

The lower of the two doll sketches that I drew was to show how dowels for the arms and legs could prevent this weakness. She agreed that would be a good solution and we headed into the basement.

She marked out the size of the body on a piece of poplar and then sawed the body out of the board. She did very well tracking the saw using the two hand method. One side was a little uneven and she asked me to smooth the sides (which I did with a hand plane).

I had purchased a used Workmate thinking it would be the right size for her to work on. It turned out to be true, though the condition of the top made some of the clamping operations difficult. She sawed and drilled on the Workmate, and I taught her to use the vice top.


 We agreed it would be hard to drill into the corners at the bottom for the legs to go in. She proposed cutting flat spots there. She marked them off and I had her use the saw I use for dovetails to make these smaller cuts. Then she drilled the holes.

This was slow going, and I did take a few "turns" in each hole to make it deeper. But she started the holes and at least half of the drilling. She was pretty proud of the work she was doing.

She wanted to round the body and I let her work on that with a four-in-hand rasp / file followed by sandpaper. While she was doing that I made a simple jig with a deep v cut to hold the dowels and a cut with the dovetail saw to guider her cuts. With this jig she was able to mark the lengths and cut them herself. This is how she left it at the end of the day:

I'm pretty  pleased that she did all this without tiring of it. And she is happy to have made something in the wood shop. For the head, I'm going to look at a craft shop for a small wooden knob that will serve as the head. If I'm successful, we'll glue it all together later this week. She plans to paint it white and make clothes for it.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

A Happy Birthday Tool Tote (with tools!)

Today she turned seven, and she got a Dad-made tool tote with tools to go in it. She could not believe her good fortune at getting a genuine hand plane (a Stanley block plane No. 220) and a folding extension rule (the kind that has about 15 joints and extends for about three yards).

Success! I took some pictures along the way and hope to post a note about the tote construction tomorrow.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Quick Child's Table

Last Saturday my friend, Mark, visited with his son. Mark's inventive streak runs long and he doesn't let limited experience stop him from making things. He brought the parts for a table he planned to build with August, and he and I took 15 minutes in the shop to sand all the parts.

Above you can see the table he assembled on Sunday with his son's help. The basic design is butt joints and screws. I don't think there is any glue. This table reminds me of many of the furniture pieces I saw in Belize in January: simple, practical, and without pretense. The joints are braced with both brackets and triangular braces. I expect it will hold up to everything August throws at it until after he outgrows it.

Mark plans to make a chair for this little table using the similar construction techniques and more scraps from around the house. Nice work, Mark. Send pictures of the chair when you finish it.

Photographs courtesy and © 2009, Mark Shar.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wooden Blocks

I wish woodworking was as easy as playing with blocks. My children spend hours building with these, and I love seeing what they come up with. Below are pictures of one that spent several days in our living room during September.

The columns on top of the structure were exercises during a wood turning class. If I ever have a lathe in the shop, I plan to make some proper Greek and Roman columns for the block set.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Little Planes for Little Hands

Months ago—could it have been a year?—the Little Victor arrived in my shop tucked in an impossibly small box. I pulled her out, looked her over, and put her back in the box. There she stayed, wrapped in a sad little piece of anti-corrosive paper and wishing for better.

Last week during a shop cleaning she was noticed, removed, and tested without any honing. Above you can see what she can do straight from the Lee Valley factory. She was perfect, if small, and I awarded her a spot on the shelf with two miniature planes, the perfect foils for this tiny colossus. That's where she was found, on Saturday, by my oldest girl.

"Oh daddy, you have tiny planes! Can I try one?"

How could I say "no"? I try to inspire the girls to work with tools, and this kind of self-inspired shop time is rare. So Little Victor got to play with the children, and she had a great time of it. My youngest was there too, and I facilitated (to prevent the usual shouting match about who wasn't being fair). This woodworking paradise lasted at least half an hour, and the girls came away beaming from their success at making a tiny pile of tiny shavings.

Here are a few pictures:

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Monday, June 16, 2008

First Dovetail for an Eight-year-old

Here's a great post by Konrad Sauer about his son's first through dovetail. This is the kind of experience that blow me away about being a parent.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Youngest Woodworker at My House

Just look at the determination on her face. Yes, she is using what amounts to a toy saw, but she couldn't manage the big saw. This one did the job, as you can see:

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