Teach Them Young: Kids and tools
Kids and tools can strike fear into many parents. I get that, power tools can be pretty scary without proper training but there are many, many tools, hand tools, that serve as a great way for you, your kids and tools to all work together. Almost all of us here at Home Construction Improvement, Tool Box Buzz, and Concord Carpenter have children. The kids vary in age from infant to all grown up. We are all encountering or have dealt with showing our kids how to use tools safely. Here are some ways that you can introduce kids and tools in a safe manner.
Gardening can be a great way to introduce kids and tools. Just about all the tools used in gardening are hand tools which can be very safe. Using small dirt shovels and rakes helps to improve hand eye coordination and can tire them out. Gardening can also teach them about how plants grow. From germination to tending to harvest. If you don’t have a garden, here’s our guide to build a raised bed planter, and then plant it together. It not only teaches them valuable skills but the time spent together is priceless.
Landscaping projects also teach kids the same tool skills and can also help improve the overall look of your home. Spreading mulch, installing edging, and even some of the large rock based projects can be fun for kids of all ages. It isn’t the large rocks you need to be concerned about but the rocks they can just barely pick up but are not strong enough to move very far.
Both Home Depot and Lowes offer workshops that help introduce kids and tools in a moderately safe environment with simple to build projects. The projects typically have a few small wood parts that are glued and nailed together and then there is a painting station so that kids can customize them to their liking. Some of the kits even include stickers, which kids love. I’ve taken my three year old to three of these workshops and so far he has really taken a shine to them. So much so that he wants to join me in my shop.
Home Depot Workshops – First Saturday of every month
Lowes Workshops – Second Saturday of every month
Build Things in Your Own Shop
This one can be a bit tougher. If your shop is anything like mine, there are saws, drills, sanders, and other things with motors that may not be suitable for kids. When your kids start to show interest in your shop, it is probably a good time to install an electric disconnect to the outlets and build shelving that keeps your mobile power tools out of the reach of little hands.
There are plenty of safe activities to do together in your own shop though. Gluing and clamping are really safe and can really bring a project together. As the responsible adult, you’ll have to do all the machining but get them a decent pair of safety glasses (or even a face shield). That way they can at least watch you do the more dangerous tasks while still feeling a part of the build.
Recently my son and I built a mallet together. I did the cutting and turning while he helped with the gluing, clamping, and drilling (clamps and stops on drill press made this really safe). The smile on his face when we glued the handle into the mallet head was pretty special. He was so proud of the mallet that had to start taking it everywhere we went. Our next project will probably be a wooden toolbox, something that he can use his mallet to assemble and then carry it around.
Also we recently built a sandbox together over at our sister site, Tool Box Buzz, while reviewing Titebond Construction Adhesive. A sandbox is a great project to build together because 1.) it’s fun to build something large and 2.) it’s a practical project and they’ll get years of enjoyment out of its use. Head over to Tool Box Buzz where we have step by step instructions for the sandbox.
These things are all ways to help introduce kids and tools in a relatively safe manner but more importantly, it’s quality time spent together. Maybe they won’t take a shine to them right away and that’s ok. It took me years to appreciate the skills my dad was teaching me and even longer to appreciate the quality time but now they are some of my favorite memories. Now get out there and do something together.