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Get ’em while they’re young

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There’s a brand new woodworker in town. No need to worry about competition yet, though – he’s only five years old.

We recently enjoyed the first extended visit – without his parents! – of our grandson, Jed. A full week of just him and us. Been a long time since our daughter was that age, so what do you do with a little kid for fun these days? Turns out that the one thing he really wanted to do was build something with me in the woodshop. In fact, in the weeks preceding his visit, it’s all he talked about.

We did a couple projects, but he was most proud of the one that was actually practical for his visit: a small stool custom-sized for his use while here.

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I say “we,” but to his young mind he did most everything. I cut all the wood to size (no five-year-old should use a table saw), but before cutting I had him draw all the cut lines on the wood with a ruler and pencil after I first put marks on the wood he could use to line up the ruler. Now, to his mind his role in simply marking the wood was the most important aspect of creating those workpieces. In his mind, I only "helped".

Later in the project, I lined up and drilled the screw holes, positioned and started the screws in the holes, then clamped the stool assembly together. Then, I let him use a small powered drill/driver to drive the screws the rest of the way in. Even though I did almost everything, in his mind his role was far more important. When the stool was done, he was convinced he was responsible for it – again, to his way of thinking I only helped a little bit – and he couldn't have been more proud.

More importantly to this old woodworker, my young apprentice is now hooked for life. Considering that this entire episode mirrors my daughter when she was young – and she’s now an accomplished woodworker herself – I, too, couldn’t be more proud.

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