Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Man Stuff

Parent/Teacher conferences yesterday and today.

My wife and I went yesterday. Kid's doing great, except for failing to turn in a couple of assignments. He's a much better student than I ever was.

So anyway, my son has had a four day weekend. Wonderful. Frankly I'm surprised he's even getting an education, considering the number of days off the kids have in Middle School.

To make matters worse, once again it was unseasonable warm today, and it rained, again, all day. Which meant he couldn't play outside. None of his friends could come over. So about noon he became unbearably bored.

Well, hell. I keep promising to teach him how use the big scroll saw, so...

The scroll saw is a good place for kids to start learning their way around a shop. As stationary tools go, it's pretty safe when run at low speed. It's easy to control, and easy to supervise. He's already pretty familiar with shop safety and we spent an hour going over the machine until I was confident he knew how to operate it correctly.

Here's my son practicing on a piece of MDF. He was cutting out the letters of his name. Pretty good for a kid that had just learned how to use the machine.

Working on smaller, finer detail pieces after a change to the wire bi-directional blade.

He's even got the official 'woodworking face' down pat.

Anyway, it was a fun day. I managed to finish a few more bowls. Two days and I'll be able to post picture and prices. Sooner if it becomes less damp out.


  1. Jeesh... tools like that make me squeamish. My imagination lets me vividly picture what would happen if something--anything--went wrong.

    But it's not you. When we built our computer room and bathroom in the basement, I had to look away every time Michael used the Miter Saw. And since we built two rooms from nothing, that was a lot of looking away.

    It due to the fact that *I* am a complete klutz. In elementary school, I closed a girl scout knife on my finger while cutting balsa wood. In high school I drove a sewing machine needle through the center of my fingernail. Last summer I severed an artery in my finger when the onion I was cutting rolled. (And I do mean severed--the doctor wasn't sure he could control the bleeding without cauterizing the wound. Luckily, he managed.)

    I always expect the worst.

    But your son looks like he's thoroughly enjoying what he's doing, so Yay!

    I'll just be over here, hiding my eyes.

  2. Michelle, I'm with you.


  3. Actually, Michelle, that machine is extremely safe. It's an old fashioned industrial Powermatic #77a, it's exceptionally quiet and was designed primarily for school and college shops, i.e. for teaching kids (as opposed to the 77b which was designed for factory use). With the speed set to it's slowest setting, you can actually briefly touch the toothed edge of the blade and not get cut, unlike the bandsaw or the table and chop saws which would take your fingers off in a tenth of second. It'll be a number of years before I let him use those machines.

    Also I have very strict safety rules for working in my shop, I follow them and so does everybody else - or else.

    Frankly I'm much more worried about him on his snow board, that thing scares the crap out of me. He wears a helmet, but still.

  4. Well done, young one. Also -- that's quite a sizable shop ya got there, Jimmy boy. I must admit I'm a tad bit jealous.

    But you can keep the polar bears.

  5. Shawn, you're only seeing one little corner of the shop. Overall it's about 2500 sqft, give or take a foot or two. So your jealousy should be a full blown green eyed monster, just saying. ;)

    And the polar bears are 700 miles north of here (well, OK there's one in the Anchorage Zoo), around here it's black and brown bears - but they have no interest in woodworking.

  6. 2500 sq. ft.

    Most New Yorkers would kill to have 2500 sq. ft. to live in.

  7. Jim,

    It doesn't matter if I *know* things are safe. (Michael actually made me come up with a scenario where he would be horribly mutilated with the Miter Saw. I did it, but it was a struggle and involved a long series of improbably events.)

    It's simply that, as a klutz, power tools with sharp bits scare me the way a room full of rocking chairs would scare a long-tailed cat. Sure there's a way to do it safely--but that doesn't mean that I can't image a way to have a catastrophic accident, and, lets be honest, if it were me--manage to have that accident.

    So, it's nothing personal, really, but Janiece and I will be over in the corner, not looking.

  8. Well, it sounds like it's a BIG corner, so you two should have plenty of room to play with yarn, marshmallows, and other non-pointy things. ;)

  9. See, it's like this...

    (I changed the person from your son to you, because I creeped myself out writing about your son.)

    Your stupid cat could somehow manage to get out of the house, and seeing an eagle flying overhead, panic and break into the shop (flying glass is always a good addition. But if there are no windows, then the door could accidentally be left ajar) as the cat flies into the room hissing and spitting, you choose that exact moment to start the saw again, those scaring the cat even more, which causes said cat to, in a blind panic, run *towards* youand shoving you in the back, causing you to learn forward and 1) put your hand in the way of the saw and 2) causing you to nudge/stomp on the foot petal, pushing it into overdrive. Then the cat climbs up your back and onto your head, gouging out flesh as it goes, leaving you. Thus leaving you with severed fingers, severe blood loss, and cat scratch fever.

    And that would be AWFUL!

    PS. I can also come up with scenarios not involving your cat if you like.

  10. Michelle, have you ever considered a career as a building inspector? They come up with that stuff all the time.

    Cute kid, BTW.

  11. See, the cats would get eaten by eagles on the way to shop. No harm, no foul. Everybody benefits :)

    Nathan Most New Yorkers would kill to have 2500 sq. ft. to live in. That would be just another reason why I don't live in NY. My house is over 4500sqft of living space, and another 1000sqft of storage and machinery space. And I probably paid less than a tenth of what you NYorkers do for 1000sqft.

  12. Anne, thanks. The girls at his school seem to think so too :O

  13. We've got about 1600 sq. ft. living space, 800 or so sq. ft. storage space and about 1100 sq. ft. of outdoor space.

    The important thing, though is that we've got about 1500 sq. ft. of rental space (2 apartments).

  14. See, the cats would get eaten by eagles on the way to shop. No harm, no foul. Everybody benefits

    Does that mean you wanted me to come up with the non-cat variation?


    I don't think I would like to be a building inspector. Can't someone pay me to come up with horrible scenarios just because?

    And now you all know the real reason why I will never have children.

  15. And now you all know the real reason why I will never have children

    It's OK, Michelle, no matter what you dream up, children will invariably do something else...

    Nathan, nice. Are your rental units in the same building?

  16. Cellar, Garden Level, Parlor level is ours. Two more floors above with an apartment on each.

    And air rights going straight up for miles. :-)

    (We're horizontally challenged here.)


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