Woodworking ($12.95) bills itself as a book of kid-tested
woodworking projects. To drive that point home, most of the illustrations
feature an 11-year-old who completed all of the projects in the
book. Woodworking is designed to appeal to children between
9 and 12, but dads looking for a fun review of their junior high
shop class will enjoy it too. This book is part of the Kid Crafts
series from Fox Chapel Publishing. A visit to their website at www.foxchapelpublishing.com is
a good time investment; be forewarned: dad may want to make an
investment in several of their books.
Author John Kelsey makes it easy to learn the use of basic hand
tools for woodworking, and the book emphasizes skills appropriate
to the age range. Parents are encouraged to teach the skills through
demonstration--and patience. Kelsey advises parents to demonstrate
each skill and then supervise the child as he attempts it himself.
The recommendation to "let them try new things and make their own
mistakes; they can always cut another piece of wood" sets a theme
for making a child's first woodworking experience enjoyable.
Before getting into the supplies, tools, and skills for woodworking,
the author addresses the most basic material required: the wood
itself. In the first chapter, you get a clear and well-illustrated
explanation of where wood for woodworking comes from, how wood
is formed, and what defects to beware of when selecting boards.
This is one of the most concise yet detailed explanations of its
kind you're likely to find in a craft book.
As supplies and tools are introduced in the next chapter, new
skills are also introduced. Although the book is fun to read with
colorful illustrations and lively explanations of the skills and
projects, it really is a "working book"; taking the time to stop
and practice each new skill and work through each project in order
can make for an enjoyable and memorable first shop class for a
homeschooling dad and his kids. Still, it's a good idea to read
through the book completely before beginning the skills and projects.
Some explanations of the tools needed for the projects are thin
on detail. For example, the section on hammers shows a variety
of hammers and then recommends a carpenter's hammer over a framing
hammer without a lot of discussion of the differences and purposes
of each. On the other hand, speed squares are clearly explained.
That is not a problem for this level. However, this may not be
the book to choose if you're looking for an in-depth shop curriculum
or an advanced industrial arts class at the high-school level.
The projects themselves are very basic at the beginning and progress
through more challenging projects, including a rubber band powered
paddleboat, a catapult, and an "exploding marble target." Mom need
not worry about the latter as it is a break-apart toy castle--perfectly
safe unless one of my kids gets hold of it. The tool tote is not
the first actual project. This is not a major issue; you can choose
to build the projects in any order. In years gone by, it was almost
a tradition for youngsters to build a tool tote as their first
woodworking project. Each project is introduced with a brief explanation,
the tools and materials needed, and pictures of all the tools needed
to build it. The projects also include a list of skills needed
and page numbers where explanations of the skills can be found.
Homeschoolers enjoy an advantage over other educators in their
ability to see books as launching pads for a great learning experience.
If you're one who can make any well-written and informative book
into curriculum, Woodworking may be a perfect fit. However,
for an in-depth study of woodworking, you will want to go beyond
the skills and projects offered in this book. A great first place
to start is the publisher's website mentioned above.