In Projects

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My son Oliver has been fascinated by my woodworking projects for years now, but has always been resistant to the idea of building anything of his own. I decided to take advantage of his love of Halloween to come up with a basic idea he could make almost entirely by himself: a pumpkin.

Part of Oliver’s reluctance has been a strong dislike of loud noises. Getting him set up with some good ear protection and being careful with the tools I chose helped overcome his previous issues. I also only had him do things he was comfortable doing- there’s a time and place to push new skills, but right now the focus was on just getting started. I picked the scroll saw because it’s a great beginner’s tool; it’s not particularly intimidating and the chances of injury are (relatively) low. Plus it’s a tool that he can grow with and we can use on subsequent projects, like a snowman during the winter holiday season.

I tried to give him as much control as possible during the project. He picked out the piece of lumber, designed the pumpkin, and painted the face all on his own. Even on the steps I helped him with, I made sure he was involved in some compacity. Follow along below as he makes his first project.

Prepare The Stock The more ownership you can give your child, the better. Here Oliver marks the line for the rough cut of our scrap piece.

Rough Cut Oliver wasn’t ready to use the miter saw yet, but he was able to help me line up the cut.

Design Time It took a few tries to find a pumpkin shape Oliver liked that wouldn’t be too small or prone to tipping over.

Teamwork Time I help Oliver out with the more complex cuts and curves so he could build up his confidence. The full complement of safety gear is essential for kids.

Solo Time After a little while he was happy to make the relief cuts all by himself. I outlined his pencil drawing with a sharpie so he could clearly see the outline we were cutting out.

Sand Smooth Making kids sand by hand at first will make them appreciate an electric sander that much more down the road.

Finish Up Oliver had me trace the face he created on the pumpkin with the paint marker, then he colored it in.

All Done Just look at that proud face!

Make It More Adult I took advantage of the scroll saw being out to make a few small pumpkins out of some cherry scrap I found.


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