Last year I built a chair from a single piece of 2×4 wood, eight feet long. It was a one-page project detailed in MAKE magazine and allowed me to use a variety of tools and joining techniques. At the time I thought it would be a great project for Kelsey to learn from but not till today did it happen.
The reason it took till now? Safety training at Nova Labs got her excited.
Last night Kelsey and I went through basic use and safety training for the workshop tools at Nova Labs. This included instruction about the table saw, drill press, grinder, chop saw and radial arm saw over the course of an hour. Nikolai (one of two shop stewards) did an excellent job, focusing heavily on safety which I, the father of this teenage girl, really appreciated.
From my six week experience at TechShop I learned that reinforcement was a good technique to lock-in what I’d learned. Often I’d do a project with a tool immediately after completing a class. With this in mind I mentioned the Kelsey that I still had a spare 2×4 if she wanted to go make a chair and she jumped on it.
Within an hour she had cross cut the wood on the radial arm saw and ripped the slats on the table saw. To remove marks, smooth surfaces, and get rid of ridges she used a rotary sander. Later we continued work at home and during assembly she used the drill to create pilot holes and screw the chair together. It all came together nicely.
About 3/4 the way through the process she was feeling pretty good about herself. This is one of my favorite results of making, a sense of pride that accompanies a successful project. Suddenly she looked up at me and smiled, “Dad, I can use all these new skills next month when I work for Habitat for Humanity! I don’t have to be the girl who doesn’t know how to use tools!”
Sure enough, between training and project we’d made a maker. Yeah!