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.
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?