Well, that settles it! I’m getting one of those amusement park ride signs saying “you have to be this tall” before you can come in my shop. Let me tell you why.
Like the rest of you, I am proud of my shop and jump at any opportunity to show if off. Twice in the last several weeks I have invited friends with children to come over and see what I am working on and what I have made lately. Some kids have questions about woodworking and tools, and sometimes parents want to see the shop after they have heard me talk about it.
First family came over and the older child, about 11, was fascinated by carving tools. We set up a piece of soft wood in the bench vise and she tried out the draw knife (don’t pull it too far towards you, that’s what happened to my half-brother! (took three times to get the joke)(Thanks Roy Underhill)). She tried my spokeshave, and was just enthralled with being able to cut wood with hand tools. In the meantime, her five year old brother was loving the round ship’s wheel on the leg vise. He must have turned that thing a thousand times. His Mom was concerned that he might mash a finger in the vise, but I assured her that it was a once in a lifetime occasion because if he did clamp up his finger, he would never do it again. Later she winced as most Moms would when he picked up something sharp and I pointed out the box of bandaids. We got through that day unscathed, thank goodness.
A couple of weeks later another couple came over with their four year old daughter. I invited them all into the shop and told them to look at anything they wanted, but make sure to not turn on any tool. They had an old dining room table to re-finish so we set the center leaf on the table saw to decide the best course of action. Kid is wandering around the shop with all of us thinking we are watching her while we work on the leaf. I stepped away to find some stain and while I was in the corner of the shop, to my abject horror, I heard the table saw start up. The little girl had come up next to her Dad and could not resist punching the button right in front of her face. Thank goodness, the blade was retracted below the table or it could have been really, really bad. Talk about dodging a bullet.
I’m putting the sign up next week!! Cavalier attitude and all the good will in the world does not exactly cut it. Safety first!
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