Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Afternoon in the Shop with Lily

She's 7--the second oldest of our universe of six grandchildren.  I got to hold her the day she was born.

We decided on a play date the last afternoon of 2012.  Over quesadillas and rice and beans we talked about what we might build or do.  Once we got to the shop, she decided she had an idea.  Ok, I admit it, I posed the picture.

Birdhouse.  You've got to start somewhere.  If she said, "scale model of a Frank Lloyd Wright house" or "prototype air powered elevator" I would take a run at it with her.  Process and time together were everything, product not much.

We did some sketching, which she caught onto right away.  I did the tablesaw cutting and we got into some hand tools.

And learned, in about 30 seconds, how to spread glue.

And how a vise works.
And back to the sketch pad at her improvised desk.

But that's only half the story.  First thing in the shop, she had sat at my desk.  I suggested she was the boss.  That stuck.  So periodically, in the construction/playtime, she would declare a break and go into her office and then call me in for a conference. 

I was taken to task for something that I did that wasn't safe.  I was made mayor of the Carry the Wax Club.  (I had to learn to carry the wax container by the handle with my other hand underneath in case the box fell down.)  I had to demonstrate my competence at this in order to become mayor ("because mayors own the town, you know.").  Later I got to be president and received a special binder clip to wear on my collar as an emblem of my station.

Once I had to come into the office as Lily, talking to the boss.  There were some things I had to learn to do better.   (I've not had a boss or a conference in over 30 years.  This required great imaginative effort on my part!  She seemed quite at home as the boss.)

But back to the shop.  In addition to the obvious hand tools, we also
  • used the drill press in 3 different processes, including  boring with a pilot bit/countersink
  • used two different air staplers
  • cut shapes on the band saw
  • sanded putty with an orbital sander
  • used a screwgun to install the removable cleanout panels and to attach a metal bracket to one of the avian residences
I was amazed.  All this was done with my hands on her hands, or vice versa, but she was very attentive to what was going on.  For instance, with the drill press, she drilled a hole and the bit plunged on through.  That sends three signals:  your ears hear the splitting sound, your eyes see the chuck go down more quickly than it had been traveling, and your hand feels the plunge effect.

Next hole:  she slowed down her rate of feed when she got to what she thought was the end of the hole.  And she was right.

I have taught adults woodworking, and I don't recall ever seeing learning like this.  Quite the contrary, in many cases!

When we started our first bandsaw task, she said, "Grampa, aren't you going to wear safety glasses?"  Before I could concoct a mumbly answer, she was tapping the sticker on the upper wheel housing:  Caution!  Wear Safety Glasses.

We spent over four hours together in the shop on December 31.  As I look at my new wall calendar which shows the entire year on one page, I can see some wonderful opportunities in 2013.