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Finding myself again in my VBAC
06/03/2019
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A toddler in the Workshop

So I’m proud to say I’m a daddddeeeee for the second time. Yes, two wonderful boys. Now I have two sons to teach practical skills to. I guess it’s also a little nostalgic for me and something I would like to pass on as my father did to me. Carpentry and being able to maintain your house yourself was taught to me by my father and more recently YouTube.

My dad is a master German craftsman type and antique furniture restorer. So I grew up in my Dads workshop helping here and there, getting in the way and trying to build my own constructions from as early as I can remember. Well I have followed in my father’s footsteps and become a carpenter while being an industrial designer / maker too.

Recently I had to use my old man’s table saw and it reminded me once again why I’m still scared of it too this day. It’s an old machine that works well but can be a little stubborn and fight you a little. To hurry things on the blade decided to jam somehow and kicked the wood I was cutting up off the table. Luckily I have all my fingers intact. My father always warned me about the table saw and subsequently most power tools. As I grew older I was allowed to handle most of them from the age of 16 or so. I was however allowed to do hours of sanding and workshop cleaning from much earlier.  So yes often I was allowed to sand this, and glue and clamp that, and actually learnt quite a lot of really useful skills that I use today. I just was not allowed to touch the power tools.

I now have my own little workshop that happens to be the garage at home. So this is why I titled this blog, ‘A Toddler in the Workshop.’ This is simply because I get one in the workshop most days saying, ‘Dadddeeeeeee I need something,’ proceeded by quick glances around trying to decide on the spot if  a  circular saw, a sanding machine or the really sharp spade that is going to be most effective to achieve his latest creative/destructive intent. And somehow my strong willed son accepts that he can’t use the sharp spade of circular saw.  He however has access to endless off-cuts and sandpaper, which he happily settles for.

I’ve managed to set some ground rules that seem to work with regards the workshop. I will just mention this now, all the dangerous stuff is out of reach and gets packed away every day. I do show Kai exactly how each tool works so that he sees the correct way to use it. The other day I got a new cordless drill and got Kai to unpack it and I went through each piece and even got him to load the chuck with a pozi bit and hold the drill and let rip. Well there were squeals of delight and someone thought themself so proud to be using dadddeeeee’s new drill. I found that by explaining how it works and where possible allowing Kai to hold and even use the cordless drill or mouse sander has developed in him a respect for tools in my workshop. Hopefully one day Kai and Wren will be able to use them with confidence.

Here is where I will give you some tips and tricks that have helped Kai and I negotiate the workshop together.

  1. Safety First. Shoes are non-negotiable.
  2. It’s fun to put on every bit of safety gear all at once. It’s really not expensive to buy some dust masks, ear muffs and safety glasses from Builders Warehouse. Dress up points are a bonus
  3. Name the tool and tell your little one exactly what it is used for.  I find this one also helps with the gardening and general household items too. It also helps when you have to explain why they can’t use the hedge clippers on the dogs tail.
  4. Sand with the grain
  5. Put it back exactly where you found it.

What I’m trying to get at is that as a family we do a lot together around the house, be it gardening to building furniture and fixing stuff around the house. As we are doing these things it gives my wife and me a perfect platform to start teaching our boys from an early age to learn practical skills. If your little one has an enquiring mind, take the time to nurture it. Have fun   

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