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Thread: Kindergartner + bandsaw: Trouble?

  1. #1
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    Kindergartner + bandsaw: Trouble?

    I help cub scouts with Pinewood Derby cars. They've always be 3rd grade or older. I was just contacted by a den leader of 6 Kindergarten age kids.

    I think an important part of the experience is doing it yourself and I make a point of having the kids use the power tools: Bandsaw, oscillating sander, stationary belt sander, router table, metal lathe and buffer. I have techniques and jigs to minimize the danger on all of these. I do a lot of practice with the kids and the dads are always close by. I never let the kid proceed unless both kid and dad are comfortable.

    With these kids, I would still like to have them do the bandsaw. I have in mind a sort of U-shaped fixture to hold the work that would keep the kids hands well away from the blade. I have an old 12" Craftsman tilting head (bad idea) saw with a very fine 1/4" blade that I keep around mostly for the Derby cars.

    Thoughts? The den leader is coming over this evening to strategize.

    I know the kids will have fun. I built my own 32' test track. I have the means to do all that rail-rider stuff. But that's for the older kids. With these little ones, We will be happy if they make it to the end.

  2. #2
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    My 3 sons did pinewood derby all three years of their Cub Scout experience. I was a stickler that they do all the work themselves.
    The process was
    They look through magazines and such to find pictures of suitable designs.
    I supplied paper with actual sized rectangles for them to draw their design, top and side view.
    They drew the design, or rubber cemented it on the block.

    The wood was very soft.
    I clamped my belt sander on my bench.
    With a course sanding belt, they had the shape in about 15 minutes.
    We had a rule, you sand till the line was gone. If they wanted to tweak it after they removed the guide line, they had to make another guide line, no adlib sanding... Our first experience was, “I’ll just take a little more off this side...oops, too much, just a little more off this side to match...”. Had to buy another kit.
    Hand sand from there.

    We tried coping saws a couple of times for mass removal, but it was just as quick with the sander.
    Comments made here are my own and, according to my children, do not reflect the opinions of any other person... anywhere, anytime.

  3. #3
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    I really like the idea of the paper for sketching. I will do that.

  4. #4
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    I'd be more comfortable with them using a fret saw to do the contours for their derby vehicles rather than the power tool. The level of liability lurking there is huge, especially with kids. Power sanding, no problem, but for cutting, hand-tools only and still VERY carefully supervised.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    I've done Pinewood derby cars for several years, and I NEVER let the kids - even up to 12 years old - touch the bandsaw. I know the school lets them do it, but not on my watch.

    The problem IMHO isn't with making the cut; it's the instinct of people to reach in and remove the cutoffs before the blade has spun down.

    They do the design and drawing. I do all the bandsaw cutting, and they do all the spindle sanding, final sanding, wheel mounting, and painting.

  6. #6
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    I do wood working with neighbourhood kids in the 6 to 9 year old and 10 to 14 year groups.

    The younger kids are only allowed to use hand tools such as a coping saw, back saw, block plane and egg beater type drill.

    Older kids start with the scroll saw, drip press, stationary belt sander and then band saw. They are trained as a group, then individually tested and their test papers and training records are kept. Training also includes lockout of the machine during tool or adjustments ( except for the band saw they simply unplug it and try to start the machine).

    I also keep signed parental waivers. So far in 10 years no issues, a lot of fun.\\I'm glad to see you"re helping out your community members..........Rod.

  7. #7
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    I think its a bad assumption that the dads (moms?) are knowledgable of safe operations will be able to manage their kids. Most men I know don't have or have ever operated a bandsaw. But then, I don't think my 4.5 yr old grandson (yes, I know k-garten is 5) has the attention span or dexterity to handle any power tool or even most hand tools. I see that from observing him play with his playskool set of tools.

  8. #8
    One of my cousins has been a butcher since he was 15 years old. After about a dozen years of practice, one day he was cutting a pork leg with a bandsaw- toothless blade. Something happened, the bone broke or the blade skidded off, but he wasn't expecting the sudden 'nothing' to cut and his hand was in the wrong place-- the blade immediately went thru the meat, then between his thumb and forefinger, and he couldn't stop the momentum it until it hit his watchband...

    If not your kids, I wouldn't them anywhere near power your power tools, unless their parent(s) is supervising. Just never know...
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I help cub scouts with Pinewood Derby cars. They've always be 3rd grade or older. I was just contacted by a den leader of 6 Kindergarten age kids.

    I think an important part of the experience is doing it yourself and I make a point of having the kids use the power tools: Bandsaw, oscillating sander, stationary belt sander, router table, metal lathe and buffer. I have techniques and jigs to minimize the danger on all of these. I do a lot of practice with the kids and the dads are always close by. I never let the kid proceed unless both kid and dad are comfortable.

    With these kids, I would still like to have them do the bandsaw. I have in mind a sort of U-shaped fixture to hold the work that would keep the kids hands well away from the blade. I have an old 12" Craftsman tilting head (bad idea) saw with a very fine 1/4" blade that I keep around mostly for the Derby cars.

    Thoughts? The den leader is coming over this evening to strategize.

    I know the kids will have fun. I built my own 32' test track. I have the means to do all that rail-rider stuff. But that's for the older kids. With these little ones, We will be happy if they make it to the end.
    I suggest you familiarize yourself with Edward Gorey's "The Gashlycrumb Tinies".

  10. #10
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    I have a Kindergartener and a 1st grader. Thereís no way they are ready for the bandsaw. Maybe the disc sander and spindle sander if I reduce the speed with my VFD.

    Most parents I know are not ready for the bandsaw.

  11. #11
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    I taught high school shop, and have done Pinewood Derby cars with the local Scouts. I don't think I would want kindergarten kids even IN my shop unless there was a 1 to 1 adult/kid ratio, and probably not even then. Well, maybe if all the breakers were open.

  12. #12
    IMO no way would I let a Kindergarten kid use a band saw even with a jig or fixture. I taught middle school shop and for the first 15 years they could use band saws. Eventually our department decided (after some close calls) that we would limit them to scroll saws in Middle School and wait until High School for the band saw.

    Another issue is regardless of age, there are kids with learning disabilities that need specialized help.............How would you know if one of those kids needed specialized help? I don't think you could count on parents to inform you.

    My 2 cents.

    Another question is how much learning is gonna take place when a kid that age to make a few cuts on a pine derby car that justifies the risk?

    I just asked my wife, who taught Kindergarten for 30 years. She thinks Absolutely Not! She doesn''t believe the fine motor skills are developed enough.

  13. #13
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    These comments have been great! The kids I worked with back in Kansas and here so far must be exceptional. I've worked with one kid here for a couple of years now and he wants to do it again this year. I started with him when he was in 2nd grade. He was and is exceptionally coachable and I trust him to follow instructions. He uses all the power tools I mentioned. The only one that made him nervous was the router table. I think he did only part of the car and I did the rest. The kids back in Kansas were the same way. If they were anxious about any operation, I would step in but I gave them the opportunity to try.

    But I've never worked with kids that young other then my grandson who has been in my shop on and off since he was 2. So he doesn't count.
    I've also never worked with 6 at once. Always one kid, one parent, me and lots of patience.

  14. #14
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    I mean, one on one with a second grader is much different than a small group of Kís in your shop at once with a bunch of parents who likely donít know what theyíre doing either.

    My kids (again, K & 1st) know all the machines and what they do and to wear safety glasses and ear protection and all that, but they arenít ready to use anything.

    Maybe think of a way to have them help in design and watch you or a parent execute. And show the kids what the plan is and how each machine works. Maybe some hand sanding or at the spindle sander. And decoration of course.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the memories. My dad would hand me a rasp and sandpaper. I learned more doing that then running it through the band saw. When a drill was need it was a brace and bit.
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