Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apprentice Day

I'd lay odds that most of us have a desire to share our woodworking knowledge with others and would welcome the opportunity to spark an interest in a young person.

With that in mind, I asked our friends if they'd like to bring their son, Eli, to my shop so that he and I could build something. They took me up on the offer and brought their three kids—Eli (five), Jillian (two), and Joel (5 months)—for an introduction to woodworking on Sunday.

I spent all day Saturday cutting the pieces, dadoes, grooves, and rabbets, for what would become Eli's first tool box. I also drilled a bunch of various-sized holes in some boards and chopped up a pile of pegs for Jillian's amusement. Joel, I figured I'd set up to work at the lathe. (joking)

It suddenly hit me, as I was designing the toolbox and working on the cut list, that being the one to introduce woodworking to a child was a huge responsibility. And I don't mean the safety factor.

Eli's first experience with woodworking could possibly make or break the enthusiasm for a potential newbie woodworker. What if the project wasn't fun and Eli ended up hating woodworking all because of me? Oh man. Pressure was on.

Well, you can see from the photos that both Eli and Jillian were captivated by woodworking. Both kids immediately snatched up the wooden mallets and started banging pegs into place. And Joel? He didn't cry or fuss and genuinely seemed interested in the unfamiliar noises.

One heartstopping moment came as Eli and I were deeply focused on building the toolbox. The adults were chatting, Joel was observing, and Jillian? Unbeknownst to any of us, Jillian had snuck behind me, entranced by the bright green "start" button on my table saw. The temptation was too great. She pushed it. And the rest of us took a collective leap out of our skins.

Fortunately, I had lowered all the blades and blade guards in the shop, so no one was in any danger. Despite this, Joel was the only one who was fully prepared for that little scare. He was the only one wearing a diaper.