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Wood Shop: Handy Skills and Creative Building Projects for Kids Review by Brenda Prince

Margaret Larson
Storey Publishing
Tel: 413-346-2100
210 MASS MoCA Way
North Adams, MA 01247

My son is a tinkerer. He absolutely loves to build and create things, whether it is with his blocks, with magnetic balls, or even with paper.He also dabbled in clock making in the past. Because of this, when I received the opportunity to review the book Wood Shop: Handy Skills and Creative Building Projects for Kids by Margaret Larson, I decided that introducing him to woodworking skills might be right up his alley. 

This book is a 210-page paperback book printed in full color that provides a crash course into wood working skills for children.Far more than just a book of project ideas, this book instead eases kids into the woodworking shop.The book begins with how to design and organize their own work space and suggesting what equipment they will need, even showing them how to build their own workbench.

Since working with tools can present their own sets of hazards, a section is dedicated to safety in the workshop and addresses the need to keep their work space neat from clutter and debris, put tools away and always wear safety glasses and closed toe shoes.Another short section introduces the definition of 'grain" when it comes to wood and describes various types and grades of lumber, the more common sizes lumber can be purchased as, and educating on which types would be best for what types of projects and why. 

After this brief introduction section, the book moves into the actually "lessons".The book consists of eleven lessons, each designed to build upon each other and help the student transition from one skill to the next.Beginning with learning how to lay out a project and making proper measurements - both important to avoid wasting materials and progressing through to finishing a completed project, these lessons walk students through how to properly use equipment to measure, saw, fasten and sand their projects while using proper safety techniques to do so. 

Upon completion of these lessons, children will be ready to begin their own projects.This book is loaded with eleven step by step projects that are already laid out in a clear manner with full color photographs showing each step, performed by other children - both boys and girls.Some projects are for equipment that the child can use for making other projects, such as how to create different style jig guild tools, an organizational carry tote for tools, and even the previously mentioned workbench.Other projects include game boards, birdhouses, and even pictures frames and light up wall art for their room. Many projects provide photos of other projects that show students how to modify the first project to complete even more projects. 

My son loves this book.While he has not been able to create his own work space as we currently do not have the room, he has enjoyed clearing a space outside on nice days and being able to hammer his way through a few of the projects that has caught his eye.So far, he has created a couple of birdhouses to decorate our front yard with and a pencil holder to keep his writing utensils organized.While not a project that from the book, he has said that he would like to work on creating a toy chest for his room to keep his building blocks organized.This book has given him the skills to create such a project and he has begun the process of drafting his design to make it a reality.I like that books like this can inspire creativity with him. 

As a homeschool mom, I find books such as this one valuable to my children's education.While many public schools have allowed courses such as wood shop and home economics fall to the wayside due to funding, I think they still hold a valuable place in our society.Not every student is going to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer, however, having the ability to skillfully craft wares that can be sold can prove to be just as valuable.Whether it is designing elaborate grandfather clocks, solid wood entertainment centers or even simple rocking chairs, to baking birthday cakes or sewing beautiful wedding dresses with handmade lace, having some sort of skill set can help provide a living just as any other career field.Fortunately, Storey Publishing fills the niche of introductory courses in not only woodworking but also sewing and baking as well.I would personally recommend this book for children around 12 years of age and older since they will be using hammers, saws, and some power tools to complete projects. With a price point of under twenty dollars ($19.95 US), this book makes adding wood shop to your homeschool budget friendly as well.

-Product review by Brenda Prince, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2019