A few days before Christmas, Carter and I put the last coat of finish on 40+ holiday gifts. We turned the handles for bottle openers, pizza cutters, and cheese planes. Next, we revised the plan for the Tile-Topped Keepsake Box, featured in the November 2006 issue of WOOD, and built over a dozen of them in our Greene and Greene style. Finally, we edge-joined most of our cut-off scrap stock to create a trio of cutting boards.
Although building holiday gifts is a family tradition, one of the most enjoyable aspects was teaching Carter (age 13) more shop skills. For the turned handles, I would turn them to shape, and then Carter would take over with the sanding and finishing, allowing me to work on other gifts. I taught him to “push” the finish process by putting on a coat of finish, letting it sit for a few minutes, before turning the lathe on, and then using a clean cloth to heat and fast-cure the finish. This allowed him to put on and build up three coats of finish in less than 15 minutes. Then, I’d take the handle off the lathe, turn another one, and he’d repeat his sanding and finishing process. It was great to see him take such pride in his new-found skills. This summer, he’s excited about learning to use the lathe tools so he can turn his own gifts next year.
The message here is not what we did, but to hopefully inspire you to involve others in your shop and projects. Creating things with our hands is an age-old desire. And, there is no age limit or necessary skill level for people wanting to learn to build. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to teach someone a skill or two and help them create a project they’ll be proud of. Marlen @ WOOD
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