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Dads and Woodworking

comments (2) June 19th, 2009 in blogs

GEide GEide, Contributor
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Senior editor Tom McKenna did some father-and-son woodworking this year as they worked on a car for the Pinewood Derby. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Senior editor Tom McKenna did some father-and-son woodworking this year as they worked on a car for the Pinewood Derby.

Photo: Tom McKenna

Woodworking is one of those traditions that’s passed from generation to generation.

We see it in our blog posts as FWW editors pass their love of woodworking onto to their kids. Magazine editor Asa Christiana writes about helping his daughter make a garden (or tool) tote and senior editor Tom McKenna blogged about building a car with his son for a Cub Scout’s Pinewood Derby.

This week on, a Web site from Macon, Georgia, columnist Mark Ballard shares fond memories of woodworking with Dad. “Another thing we both loved to do was work with wood and build things… we made the perfect woodworking pair. I could design what I wanted. All I had to do was draw a rough sketch of it on a piece of paper. Daddy then studied it and devised a plan of attack. Before long what I imagined had come to life….”

Tools, like a love of woodworking, are another thing that is passed from generation to generation. In a post on WK Fine Tools, Christopher J. Scholz talks about the trove of distinctive hand tools that he got from his father’s shop. I recently visited the shop of furniture maker Peter Aleksa and sure enough he had a big ol’ chest of hand tools that he inherited from his grandfather, some of which he still uses.

There are countless stories like these... do you have any tales of favorite tools that have been passed down the generations? I recently got a packet in the mail filled with carving tools from my ninety-something great-uncle Alf (not quite a father, but my grandpa’s brother… so pretty close) I haven’t put them to use yet, but he’d really love for us kids (anyone under 65 in his eyes) to pick up the craft.

And even more than tool tales, I’m sure that there are an endless number of stories about woodworking with Dad. We'd love to hear 'em. Chime in with a comment below in honor of this Father's Day weekend. 

Also, given the generational nature of crafts like woodworking, how are you passing it on to your kids? If you need any ideas for woodworking with kids, check out some of our articles by Doug Stowe: Woodworking for Kids and Kid's Woodworking Projects (for subscribers only).

I personally don’t have any great woodworking with Dad stories. He's more of a homebuilder than a woodworker. I do remember a short whittling lesson--but that mainly focused on first aid, in case I stabbed myself with the knife...

Anyway, have a great weekend and happy Father's Day all...

posted in: blogs, news, hand tools

Comments (2)

jjoiner62 jjoiner62 writes: My great grandfather was a professional 'farmer/carpenter' who built many houses and barns still standing in north Missouri. My grandfather was the postmaster of Trenton, Mo., but was also a master amateur furniture maker. My father was also an amateur furniture maker, and very good.

My dad died of cancer a year ago and I inherited all of his and my grandfather's power tools, a bench, and my great grandfathers tool chest. But like so many career ladder-climbing professionals these days (I am 47) I never lived close enough to my father and grandfather to 'apprentice' with them and learn to use all these wonderful tools. Now I'm teaching myself and taking all the classes I can, but I miss my father and I long for the shop time together we never had.

And yes, my last name is Joiner, so I have to learn to work with wood.

Posted: 11:00 am on June 22nd

DougStowe DougStowe writes: My earliest distinct memory of my dad was working in the driveway outside our home in Memphis. He was dripping sweat and stripped down to a sleeveless undershirt, and I was trying to learn to hammer without smashing my thumbs. Much later, when we were living in Omaha, Nebraska and he was managing a hardware store, he took an old shopsmith in on trade and bought it for my 14th birthday. Nowadays, a dad might give his son an iPhone, but I still have the shopsmith. I use it as a drill press and sometimes as my lathe. When I use it as a lathe, I can still feel my Dad's presence, over my shoulders as I guide tool to wood.

I will always be grateful that my father gave me the encouragement to work with my hands. When my daughter Lucy, (now a third year at Columbia and at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for a summer internship in geophysics) was three I had a small table in the woodshop where she could take my scraps and glue and build things from her own imagination. We still have a small collection of those interesting objects. When Lucy turned her first wood on the shopsmith, I stood over her shoulders, my hands on hers and sensing my own father over my shoulders, his hands on mine. No doubt a father sitting down with a son or daughter to play video/computer games makes memories, too. But it is hard for me to imagine anything finer to share than working with wood.
Posted: 8:04 am on June 20th

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