Child’s play

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I really like woodworking; if you’re reading this, so do you. Been a while since I literally had fun in the shop, though. Yesterday, I did.

My current book is a collection of projects for parents and kids. As with all my books, I’m in all the photos illustrating key points in the building process. (Bless the man who invented camera timers!) But I wondered if that was appropriate; after all, aren’t these projects for the kiddoes? Well, yeah, but it’s the adult who will be reading the book, and the adult who’ll show the kids how to make the projects.

But I still wanted some kids in there. Since there’s a fairly lengthy beginning section of basic woodworking techniques and procedures, it occurred to me that a couple introductory projects were in order for that section. And having some youngsters working on those would be perfect. All I needed was a kid. Unfortunately, I’m fresh out.

Oh, I have a kid – one who has taken to woodworking in a big way, I might add – but she’s in her 30s, and not quite a “kid” in the context of the book. So I went out and rented one; our doctor lives in my neighborhood, and he agreed to loan me one of his. So seven-year-old Frank was my shop buddy for a while yesterday as we built a basic kid-sized workbench together.

Let me tell you about Frank. He’s seven going on 20, and excited about absolutely everything. He was thrilled to be in the shop, in awe of all the tools, and eager to do his part. As an actor for the photography, he was a regular little Robert Downey Junior. Or junior-junior, I guess. He took direction perfectly, played well to the camera, and even though we were staging those shots he managed to bring a visual authenticity to the photos I never expected.

More importantly, he was having the time of this life. Eager, curious and interested in everything, he asked lots of questions – good ones – about tools and woodworking. That all rubbed off and in the process he got me to thinking about a lot of aspects of woodworking I’ve taken for granted for decades now, giving me a new appreciation for what I do. Not a lot of times that happens with a job, now, are there? In the end, I think I enjoyed myself yesterday just as much as he did. Maybe more.

Been a long time since I worked with a kid in the shop. If you haven’t in a while, I highly recommend it.

A.J.

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