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Thread: teenager skill builders

  1. #1
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    teenager skill builders

    My kids have been my helpers for many years, mostly focused on saving me some steps (putting tools away, fetching the shovel, etc.) while I secretly sneak knowledge into their brains.

    They are now.. gasp... teenagers. My boy will be 16 in a few months, and my girl is 13-going-on-20 (she's 5'9" and frequently mistaken for being much older... I think another grey hair just sprouted).

    Like anything, being even basically proficient with tools requires practice. While all of us can effortlessly drive screws and drill holes and saw boards to the right size and shape.... there was a time for all of us when we'd never built a deck, remodeled a kitchen, built an Adirondack chair, or pursued even more difficult projects. Somehow, along the way, we all got enough repetitions that our skills built up - and I've found it's somewhat of an exponential curve... the more you learn, the easier is to learn even more.

    Watching my kids drive some screws recently to tighten up some fence slats around the property, I became very aware that they are on the front side of this learning process.. no repetitions yet.

    The fence project (and similar efforts) are practice in and of themselves, but I figured it would be fun to devise a "challenge" focused on some basic-yet-critical skills.

    The management consultant in me therefore took this idea to Power Point where I wrote a 12 page presentation (complete with step-by-step pictures) that explains not just "how" but also "why" on a series of prescribed tasks. We're not building something pretty here, the goal is just for my kids to reproduce the steps I have detailed. They must follow instructions, measure, mark, drill, screw, use a hack saw, a bunch of other things. Think "scavenger hunt" style of "learning basic skills".

    So far, my son is about 75% through the steps and has said things like "I had no idea I could use a combo square to do that" and "the first 10 screws gave me a fight, but the next 10 went much better" and "pilot holes really help" etc.

    The whole project involves two 2x4's, a bunch of various fasteners, and tools that pretty much any home owner has on hand. My son will have installed about 40-50 fasteners of various types, used multiple types of drill bits, applied some thinking and some muscle. Good for him.

    (and.... my daughter takes the challenge next!!! GIRL power!!!!! :-)


    NOTE: Both kids have taken multiple Shop classes at school, have been well-schooled on safety procedures, and are being supervised throughout. Given their age, maturity, and background, this is extremely safe in our case.


    Anyways, if anyone is seeking ideas for a fun way to teach the kids, I'd be happy to send along the power point in case you'd like to use it or modify it.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
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    A front screen door (replacement, if you have one) is something everyone in the house will use.

    Even more challenging, make it without power tools.

  3. #3
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    Have you taught them about the effect of waxing a wood screw before installing it?

    What about screw timing or clocking? My tendency is to have all my screws slots pointing the same way with Philips and slotted screws. A lot of electricians do this so they can tell if someone else has been opening up their work.

    How about the physics of different size hammers when driving a nail? One of my luckiest finds and best investments of $12 was Audels Carpenters and Builders Guide, 4 Vol. Set. It is a bit pricey now days. One thing was the instructions on driving nails and having the head of the hammer in a plane with the elbow. Before learning this little technique my nail driving was more like nail bending.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Not sure what impresses me more: your taking time to do a ppt on screw driving, or your kids willingness to read and do it.

    Take advantage of their interest and your patience. It'll pay dividends later.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    Not sure what impresses me more: your taking time to do a ppt on screw driving, or your kids willingness to read and do it.

    Take advantage of their interest and your patience. It'll pay dividends later.

    For my son, there's been a few instances lately where I had to take back an assigned task (such as driving in some screws) in order to get a job done in a timely fashion. I noticed a twinge of hurt feelings the last couple times this happened - he's starting to be a young man and I sense he wants to "live up to" some mythical standard. Anyways, seized the moment by developing this challenge.

    He stepped into the challenge with typical teenager energy and a bit of "know-it-all-ism"... and was immediately stumped on the first page of the instructions... which he had not read carefully enough. He appeared flustered and a bit embarrassed at first.

    I sat with him, went through the instructions with him, gave him some additional pointers... and he got it. I could see that he realized this was not a piece of cake challenge, and that it would take him awhile.

    He's about 4 hours into the challenge now, with probably another 2 hours to go. The remaining steps are somewhat easier than the earlier steps.

    ---
    For my daughter... she's my mini-me. She shoots a basketball like me (ball goes SWISH ), has my same sense of humor, struggles with the same temper, and she loves to build stuff. So this is all working in our favor (except the temper piece).

    PLUS... anything her brother does, she wants to do better. :-) Hence my "GIRL POWER" note above.


    ---
    Also, thanks for the other ideas above too! Great ones to add to the list... I remember my grandfather had a bar of soap carved into a fish shape that he used to lubricate screws. I asked him "did you carve it like a fish for any reason specifically?" and he said he hadn't carved it all... he'd just waxed so many screws that it wore through a few spots.. in other words, it was just natural wear/tear that somehow luckily made the bar of soap look somewhat fish-like.
    Last edited by Bob Riefer; 04-08-2021 at 12:46 PM.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Have you taught them about the effect of waxing a wood screw before installing it?

    What about screw timing or clocking? My tendency is to have all my screws slots pointing the same way with Philips and slotted screws. A lot of electricians do this so they can tell if someone else has been opening up their work.

    How about the physics of different size hammers when driving a nail? One of my luckiest finds and best investments of $12 was Audels Carpenters and Builders Guide, 4 Vol. Set. It is a bit pricey now days. One thing was the instructions on driving nails and having the head of the hammer in a plane with the elbow. Before learning this little technique my nail driving was more like nail bending.

    jtk

    My old man taught me that hammers are supposed to bend nails (not in half, obviously ), and because they do is why you should never use a nail gun to build a house...
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
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    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  7. #7
    You sound like a lucky man. My kids are teens too, so I appreciate how wonderful this might be.

  8. #8
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    Bob, sent you a PM. Thanks
    Don't let it bring you down,
    It's only castles burning,
    Just find someone who's turning,
    And you will come around

    Neil Young (with a little bit of emphasis added by me)

    Board member, Gulf Coast Woodturners Association

  9. #9
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    When I was growing up, I was never taught how to "do" anything, only told to go do it. I think I was 13 when I was given the job to build 200 picnic tables. I had one helper. Tools were wooden handled hammers, and a 9" Craftsman radial arm saw. I think we built about ten a day.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    When I was growing up, I was never taught how to "do" anything, only told to go do it. I think I was 13 when I was given the job to build 200 picnic tables. I had one helper. Tools were wooden handled hammers, and a 9" Craftsman radial arm saw. I think we built about ten a day.

    By the end of that job, you were likely "pro" level at several skills, and probably quite tired too :-)

    I can relate, sort of... The not being taught part... my dad and my grandfather are both very handy, but not blessed with patience to train a knucklehead like me. I was basically not allowed to touch or use any shop tools growing up, was not allowed to contribute to projects etc. Now, I'm sure my folks would also say that I was more interested in playing hoops and chasing girls, so the truth is likely someplace in the middle.

    Regardless, I decided early on that these kids would be part of things. I have pictures of my son as a toddler "helping" me paint the barn (he filled in a 2x2 square with beige paint... lol). I tell my daughter she can do anything a man can do, and I tell my son that any respectable man needs to be able to do at least some basic things around the house. They both have accepted this and take it seriously.

    The key so far has been.. small doses. If I force them into the shop every day, it's too much right now. I get them to help me in bursts, and send them back to their basketball practice and riding bikes with friends before the work can become too much.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    You sound like a lucky man. My kids are teens too, so I appreciate how wonderful this might be.
    Agreed, I feel like a very lucky man. Smart, healthy, funny kids and a wife that's far too pretty to be with me (especially with my Covid belly).

    Prashun... we only get these kids for a few more years before they move onto their own lives, so let's enjoy it :-)
    Last edited by Bob Riefer; 04-09-2021 at 10:31 AM.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  12. #12
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