Saturday, September 08, 2012

Sunday woodworking

This past spring we seemed to have gotten into a groove of doing woodworking on Sundays.  I don't know why-- well, actually, I do.  All bursts of inspiration seem to come on Sundays at our house.  And woodworking is one of those things, for me anyway, that requires every bit of gumption I've got.

I'm not actually very good with a knife.  I have this inborn fear that I'm going to chop my fingers off.  I don't know where this fear came from, but it's probably not unwarranted.  I'm a bit of a klutz when it comes to pocket knives.  If I don't cut myself using them, I cut myself cleaning them.

The kids are undaunted though.  Both Sunburst and Moonshine have been well-schooled in the use of knives, thanks to Einstein.  That doesn't mean they don't have accidents-- they do.  But while the girls have been happily whittling sticks for years, we haven't done a ton of actual woodworking projects with them.  You know what I mean, the kind where you start with a block of wood and have a clear goal in mind.  It's something I've been meaning to rectify this year.

The first thing we did a few months back was to make simple cardholders.

The kids each selected a good width branch from the woodpile in the garden, at least 1.5 inches in diameter.  They used a small plane to remove the bark; planing is such satisfying work, they could happily do it for hours.  Once they were happy with the planing job, they took a larger plane and made a flat surface on one side.

They used a miter box to saw the end off at a right angle.  We let them decide how long to make it, which for them was anywhere from 4-6 inches.  Then we clamped the wood down very carefully, and they sawed the slit through the top.  This required some checking with a card to make sure the cut was even.

Here's the slit sawing work in action.  As you can see, we have only the most advanced facilities and equipment for this kind of work.  All joking aside, if you're like us, you just jump in and try things out without getting bogged down by the details, like decent clamps and flat surfaces.  Here you can see that we've got it clamped onto a slate bench in our garden.  It worked!

After the sawing was complete, the kids sanded and oiled their holders.  Even Kitty Bill, age 6, was able to complete this task without too much assistance.  I think they turned out so lovely!  I just love to see the grain of the wood coming through.

Another project we tackled was wooden strawberries.  We used the brilliant tutorial from the fabulous Katie Startzman of Duo Fiberworks; I just adore her work.

Because we didn't have the suggested wood, we opted to use green wooden branches from the garden.  This was great fun for us girls!  It definitely required a lot more focus and skill than the cardholders.  Both Moonshine and I managed to cut ourselves, but we didn't give up easily.  In the end, we managed to make eight strawberries between us girls.  Then Einstein gave it a try and ended up making ten of them, in less than half the time it took us.  His cuts looked nicer, too --of course they did.

Nonetheless, the girls and I were pretty proud of ourselves.

We left them to dry and promptly forgot about them for over a month.  Thanks to Kitty Bill, we finally got half of them painted with watercolors.  We improvised some green felt tops, and rather than drilling, we used knotted yarn for the stems.

Because we used wood from the garden, ours turned out smaller than the ones in the tutorial.  Chokingly small, for anyone age 3 and under.  Realistically, they are the size of Swiss strawberries, which is a tad smaller than the standard US or British variety.  Nonetheless, they are incredibly cute.

The kids couldn't wait to add them to their play kitchen/store/cafe.  I love that all three children still adore this kind of imaginative play.  And to make your own toys from branches in the garden-- is there anything more magical than that?


  1. Those are the most adorable strawberries! Love the card/paintings holders too. :)

    I'm like you: I have this weird fear of handling knives. Doesn't help that whenever I go to cut up veggies and stuff, hubby comes by and says, "want me to do that?" Well, of course I do. :P

    I can't get my boys interested in woodworking. I even bought them a little carpentry set years ago. It sat (might still be sitting...I don't know where it is) in the box collecting dust, never opened. Darn kids. I'm in awe of your kids!

    Hope you're having a lovely weekend! xo

    1. Thank you, Teresa! My knife thing is mostly restricted to pocket knives, which really makes no sense at all. We have this scary, huge chopping knife for the kitchen-- some kind of Chinese cleaver-- that I absolutely love using. But pocket knives, even little ones, make my toes curl with fear. Come to think of it, so do electric saws, electric can openers, and paper cutters-- both those clunky manual ones and the electric ones. Especially the electric ones. My grandfather was missing a few fingers... I bet that has something to do with it! ;)

      Wishing you great success on your blog consolidation. I already love the new color! xo

    2. Thank you for your good wishes! It's a lovely color for autumn, isn't it?

      That's kind of funny about your knife phobia being mainly for small knives. :D I grew up with Chinese cleavers, but never had to use them myself until after the kids were born for some reason, and so they make me nervous. Electric cutters of any sort freak me out too. I actually did cut myself with a paper cutter once - put a pretty nice gash in my thumb. I was at work so I washed it off in the bathroom and put a bandaid on it. Thought I was fine and went back to my desk. All of a sudden, I started blacking out and feeling sick, so I told the woman sitting next to me that I had to go to the bathroom because I felt ill. I bobbed my way back there, crashing into a bookcase and then falling on the floor, giving everyone in the office a huge scare. Turns out my body had just gone into shock, and after resting, lying down, for a few minutes, I was good as new.

      Funniest part was that, in talking with the woman who sat next to me afterward, she told me that while I thought I said, "I have to go to the bathroom; I feel sick," she couldn't understand a word I was saying because my speech had become slurred. She thought I was drunk! Um, yeah, because I always drink at work mid-morning. Hahaha!

  2. I love the card holders! We need to make some of those. It seems I'll need to get a clamp. :-)

    And I recognize the horse post card...yay! xo

    1. Thanks, Cari. And yes, the horse card is still a big hit! :)

  3. Great article and I love the pics


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter