Fresh Perspectives

kidartLately, my third-grade daughter’s pencil drawings are making me wonder if woodworking could be a genetic trait.

When I was her age, I was drawing Peanuts characters, spaceships and some really scary monsters—at least in my estimation. My kiddo Barrett, on the other hand, is drawing tables and chairs these days…in three dimensions, no less! She draws lots of other things too. There are still plenty of puppy and kitty pictures intermingled with her furniture stuff, but tables and chairs are definitely on her mind.

You can just imagine how that goes over with her woodworking father!

But, aside from the fact that I’m pleased as punch about her new penchant for furniture design, I can’t claim much responsibility for it—much as I’d like to. It’s not like she’s got a chair pulled up to the computer when I’m creating CAD drawings for some new project. She’d rather be playing Mario Cart Wii than watching me work the bugs out of an elevation drawing. My never-ending influx of woodworking magazines are scattered through the house in all the usual places. I’ve got a shelf of woodworking books that she could easily reach. To my knowledge, she doesn’t look at any of it. We don’t talk shadow lines or Golden Ratios over chicken McNuggets.

Nope, it seems that this is all Barrett’s doing. There’s some kind of magical new cognition happening for her. Suddenly, tangible things like tables and chairs aren’t flat on the page any more. They have depth and proportion, just like in real life. And her ability to copy what she sees seems to amuse her as much as it pleases me. She’ll whip up a new table or chair picture whenever I ask for one.

Is the start of something big? Who knows. Today’s tables could end up going the way of yesterday’s favorite stuffed animal. But, the next time she follows me out to the shop, puts on the apron and starts to push sawdust into piles with the broom, I should take it as a stronger sign. Maybe it’s time to grab some scraps and nails and see where that takes us. I just might just have a little woodworker on my hands. That, my friends, would be quite nice!

Have you been in my shoes? What did you do to give your kid that next woodworking nudge? Post a note back, and let’s get a conversation going about it!

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

6 thoughts on “Fresh Perspectives

  1. My 7 year old twins (1 boy,1 girl) have shown some interest in my woodwork. My son has watched my on the lathe once or twice, and they both have wanted to learn how to sand something. They like to play with my scraps and stack up ramps and tracks for their cars. I think any blame on them not going further at the moment lays squarely on my shoulders.
    My daughter has shown interest in bird houses, and my son likes planes. I guess I just need to buckle down and come up with some simple projects for them to start with. I’ll also have to muster up as much patience as I can (I’m not real good in that department), and just have fun with it.

  2. Ken,

    Sounds like your kids are off to a great start, because at least you realize their interests and are willing to help foster them. I have to work on patience with my daughter, too, and recognize that her drawings could just be a passing fancy. But, it sure would be nice if she wants to start making projects sometime soon! My scrap pile could use the help! Good luck with your junior woodworkers.

    Chris Marshall

  3. 3D at 9 years old. WOW! Think scholarships and free college. Woodworking’s OK, but a degree in engineering might be better. Get that girl tested, and on the right track in school.

  4. Mark,

    You’re funny! She’s the kid out in the shop with me who’s content to just sweep up the dust and hang out there. By the way, she chooses to push the broom–she thinks it’s fun. A very special little girl. If Barrett turns out to be an engineer instead of a woodworker, that’d be fine with me! Thanks for the well wishes.

  5. When I was a kid years ago, I watched my father pick up a pocket knife and a 2 X 6 Block of wood and carve me a Colt 45 pistol. He never carved much, in fact, rarely. He also sketched and did drafting, but not as a career, just as a hobby to get something he wanted, done.
    Over time, I began to have an interest in working with wood myself, and drawing, but mainly thought it was just a fascination of mine, not something I had inherited. However…
    In high school, I was given a book by an uncle on our family history that someone had researched and published. In that book, I learned that my great-grandfather, who lived back in the 1860’s, had been a carpenter, landscape artist, musician and farmer.
    The author stated that out of his five kids, each one had inherited one or more of his skills to some some extent.
    My grand father though, his great-grandson, was mainly a businessman, running and managing businesses.
    Needless to say, my father and I had inherited some of our great grand father’s skills too. So…

    To some extent, I would say that some talents are ‘inherited’ to some degree. They may skip a generation, but I think they will show up sooner or later in your off spring.

  6. I woke up this morning with the idea of a “knob and pocket” oval dining room table; not something I normally would do, I don’t even work with wood.
    The idea was to use the “knob and pocket” principle to interlock the sections together, the four sections stemming off from the center to have three and two sections respectively. The “cone” knobs would fit into their corresponding “hollow” pockets; the ends being in two pieces and the next section in would be in three pieces anchored by the solid piece center. Guide rails could be used or the pieces could be removable.

    Just an idea for a novel dining room table; don’t know if this is novel or not – maybe something that could be a real conversation piece.

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