Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kids Working Wood at Perth City Farm.

Perth City Farm is a great place. It was a pleasure to be involved once again in their April school holiday program for kids aged 6 - 12 years. Over five days, a heap of kids did cooking, woodwork, circus skills, garden sculpture, art & craft, and tasks around the farm and gardens. I ran the woodwork activities each day.

As well as free creative play with hammers, nails, saws, and lots of wood,  I offered different projects for the kids each day. These included kitchen spatulas, cheeseboards, message boards, garden planter beds, and Cajun drums.
Greg showing the kids different woods and where it comes from
Talking to some kids about the wood we are using. Photo courtesy Perth City Farm.
All the material we used was recycled timber, rescued from the waste stream - predominantly from packing crates and other packaging materials, etc. Much of this I had previously docked up ready for the kids to use.

Benches and space set up at the start of the program, with the "sawing station" on the front right.

Tool use.
The kids utilised a wonderful range of traditional hand tools, including hammers, spokeshaves, rasps, coping saws, tenon saws, hand saws, blockplanes, other hand planes, hand drills, and brace & bits.
The sawing station always gets a workout. Nice technique!
Nice stance! The sawing station makes it easy for kids to use tenon saws.
The "sawing station" is an important place. I have a rule with kids that Tenon saws are not used at the benches, but are only used at the sawing station. Cramped onto a pair of saw horses, there is a wide board each side. These each have two wooden stops screwed to them, creating two sawing positions each side which can be used either right of left handed. It is essentially like having 4 bench hooks in action simultaneously. The boy in the picture above is holding the piece he is cutting against the stop. I also have cramps for the kids to use if they want in odder to hold the work securely.  It is important that kids also learn correct technique for saw use, which makes sawing easier for them.

Pirate-mania. Zoe nails together a hilt for her pirate sword. Nice hammering technique!
A range of hammer sizes plus a range of bench heights help make it easier for the kids.
I have a range of hammer sizes available to the kids, and I encourage them to use hammers suitable for them and the nailing task they are undertaking. I also teach the "index-finger-on-top" technique for holding the hammer, as shown by the kids in the pics above. The hammers are all Warrington Cross Pein pattern - nicely balanced, and the best for kids to learn hammer use. No distracting claws. If nails need to be removed we use pincers.

Zoe pauses to closely check the bevel she is making on her sword edge with a block plane.
Using a small hand saw to cut out the sound hole on side of a Cajun Drum.
Using a brace and bit to drill drainage holes in the base of a planter box.
Using a rasp to shape the handle on a pirate sword, held in a vice.
I find kids are quick to learn how to use new tools and techniques, once they have a few basic tools under their belt. I continue to expand the array of tools I am using with kids...  

Project: Hardwood Salad Servers.
The kids mostly used coping saws and spokeshaves to make these. Finished with orange oil.  

Project: Garden Planter Boxes.
Garden planter box, made from recycling a glazing packing crate.
A completed planter box, lined with plastic and planted out from the Perth City Farm Nursery.

Project: Message Boards.
These were made from off-cuts of white faced Masonite cabinet backing, onto which the kids attached wooden frames. Ideal for whiteboard markers.
Nailing the frame and the border components together.
Time to test the completed message board.
Who made this message board?

Project: Cajun Drums.
Made mostly from plywood derived from packing crates from the USA, this was the first time I had done this project with kids. It was a real hit. Some of the components were pre-cut, and others were cut to size and planed to fit by the kids. Most of the boxes were made from 1/2inch ply, with the playing face made from 1/8inch (3mm) ply. Glued and nailed together.

The kids designed and cut their own sound holes in the side of their drum.  
Zoe leads the drumming. Cajun drums are sat on to play. They sounded fantastic!
Another shot of the drummers in action. They were doing a performance for the rest of the kids.

Such a great program. The kids rotated through the activities during the week, in smaller groups. However, we all came together to eat together each day for lunch, enjoying the food cooked for us by the morning's cooking group.
Enjoying lunch together. Great cooking, kids!

This guy wasn't the only one smiling at the Perth City Farm Holiday Program!

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