I’ve been doing a fair amount of work on the entertainment center lately; building, filming, and editing. I’m just about ready to post the first part of the build. However, in the last two days I had to stop to work on a much more important project. My 5 year old was playing in the shop one evening with me last week and asked if we could build a project together. Well, when one of my kids asks me to build a project with them, I don’t pass up the opportunity. Of course if my 5 year old wants to build something, my 3 year old will too. So the work on the entertainment center got pushed aside, I stopped at Home Depot to pick up a couple pine boards, we cleaned up some space for us to work, and we started making dust.
The one thing I’ve learned about working in the shop with kids is to let them decide what they want to build. If you try to make something too complicated, or if it takes too long to build (like more than an hour), they quickly lose interest. So it’s important to just let them have fun. If that means just driving some pegs into a board to make beds for their babies, so be it, even if the bed resembles nothing more than a board with some pegs in it. To them, their creation is a masterpiece, serves their intended function, and provides them with enjoyable time in the shop with Daddy. This is not the time to teach fine joinery. These are glue and nails projects.
This time, however, they upped the ante a little. The project my girls decided on was a Handy Manny toolbox, and it needed to be a “real one” that they could paint this weekend. For those of you without kids or grand kids, Handy Manny is a Disney Cartoon handyman that uses talking tools to make house calls and fix things. Of course there is a lesson in every show, but the kids just like the talking tools. Building a real toolbox would require breaking the project up into two evenings (so they wouldn’t get bored) and doing some of the work for them while they were in bed. Basically, I created a kit that they could mostly just do the assembly. I did let them help saw some parts, to get them involved and teach them about using sharp tools safely; and kids always like using the egg beater drill. But most of what they did was assembly of the “kit”.
So I cross cut all the parts to size with their help. We used the shooting board to true the ends (they really liked this part) and assembled the center boards with liquid hide glue and nails. That got us to bed time, so after they were slumbering, I took the time to scroll out the end boards, drill the pilot holes for the nails and bore the 7/8″ holes for the handle. Tonight, we finished the assembly by gluing and nailing on the end boards and adding the handle. Total project time, about an hour and a half for them and another hour for me while they were sleeping. All that’s left to do is break a few corners and their new tool boxes will be ready for them to paint. However, they couldn’t wait for paint before loading their tools up in them and trying them out. They were two happy handy girls who were all smiles while they fixed everything in the house until bed time.
Total project cost, $19; time spent working with the kids (or grand kids), priceless.