Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kids Choice: Mallets vs. Stools

As previously mentioned in the last posting the pioneering woodshop station at this years Conclave event you had the opportunity to make a wooden mallet or a rustic three-legged stool, as seen in the picture to the left. I don't know for sure why but during my observations throughout the day, I'd say that approximately 80 percent of the kids chose to make a mallet instead of a stool.

This observation troubled me for a while but after a bit of thought combined with almost 30 years experience of working wood with kids I believe I have an accurate answer. In a kids mind the mallet represents visions of an object in motion with great impact when used. Boys are all about action-oriented behaviors and that must be the lure to these rustic wooden hammers. On the other hand a stool is more sedentary where one can plant their body or perhaps a flower pot. Not much action there but kids still like them. I'm just saying that when given a choice a boy is going to choose "action" over "in-action" most of the time and that's what I'd put my money on.

 As seen in the next set of pictures to the right the first step in making a stool was to saw yourself a nice chunk of log using the crosscut saw and there was plenty of adult help available to get this heavy-duty chore done. Next the log was split in half thus producing two sides for two stools so this is a great project for partnering up with someone but I didn't get any pictures of that. Just think of splitting firewood using a wedge.

As the fellow in the picture to the left is demonstrating, the next step after splitting your chunk of log was to hew down a flat splinter-free surface using the foot adze. I've used a foot adze for hewing a lot of log cabin logs over the years but I did mine freestyle using the traditional technique. At Conclave they had a safety log set up for this chore as seen in the pictures to the left and I suppose that was a good idea for this event.

In one of the pictures above and to the right can be seen folks using the wood mallet to hammer in the legs to their stools. The tips of the legs had to be filed down a bit first so that they would have a good snug fit inside the holes. All of the stools built were 3-legged so builders had to think about proper spacing and slant that would result in a firm standing stool.

And of course, as seen in the picture above to the right, you could take your completed stool to the branding station and enjoy burning in a variety of symbols. Building a small simple wooden stool is a fantastic hands-on exercise for any child (or adult) but be prepared to have a little more patience than would be needed for making a wood mallet. Every kid should have an opportunity to experience rustic woodworking and the Boy Scouts excel in these hands-on activities.

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