Protecting Tools from Kids | Popular Woodworking

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Sometimes a little talking-to (and video surveillance) is all it takes.

I have noticed three things about tools and kids. Kids can find tools even if it requires tunneling under the garage wall. Kids can claim complete innocence when asked why tools are missing. Two days after the tools go missing the same kids manage to build a tree fort complete with lattice work.

Power tools are dangerous. To prevent your budding carpenters from doing irreversible harm – to the tools, not themselves – you should give them a quick course in power-tool safety. Here’s what to tell them:

“First I will demonstrate the proper method for cutting a 2 x 4. What? No, we will not be using a blowtorch. That’s later.

“Notice how fast the blade on the saw turns. This allows it to cut through wood. Can it be used to create shaved ice? I would have to check our insurance coverage.

“Please keep in mind that it is illegal in all 50 states to enter your Dad’s shop without his permission. No, stealing his keys does not qualify as lawful entry, nor does asking his permission when he is half asleep.

“Notice all the tools hanging neatly from racks on the wall. They did not get that way by accident. After using a tool it must be put away. Well, yes, I know that those are just posters and that my real tools are stacked in heaps along the wall, but it wasn’t that way until you gained access to the building.

“Also, tools, whether hand tools or power tools, don’t like to spend long periods of time outside. With the reciprocating saw, that tool you played with that has the teeth that go back and forth, this causes rigor mortis to set in. Especially if it rains during the month it spends in your treehouse.

“One word on power cords: Don’t ever let me catch you tying them up in a tree and swinging from them like grapevines again.

“It is a misuse of the electrical tape to wrap it repeatedly around the only pair of gloves I have. It also is inappropriate to stuff the said wadded mess in the car’s tailpipe. The car can’t exhale when you do this.

“Screwdrivers are not meant to be used as chisels, chisels were meant for this. And screwdrivers were not meant to be used as pry-bars, pry-bars were meant for this. A question? Hmmm … what do you do if you have no pry-bar or chisel handy? You use a screwdriver. That’s what they’re made for.

“You wouldn’t use a hammer to try to pound a nail into a board head first. You also would never try filling up a nail gun by putting the nails in upside down.

“The volt-ohmmeter can’t test the household current when it is set to ‘continuity.’ Also, Dad’s cordless drill doesn’t like to power toy submarines in the bathtub.

“The 10-pound box of stud nails on the shelf does look like a fun toy, but it is not fun when you pour them out across the driveway. The popping noise you hear when I drive down the driveway? That was your Dad’s means of getting to work being destroyed.

“That planer? It didn’t like what you did last week. It wasn’t designed to turn metal fence posts into spears. Yes, it did a good job.

“Now we come to the shop vacuum. As you may already know, nature abhors a vacuum. The feeling is reciprocal from the vacuum’s perspective. Please do not try to use it to suck up leaves, twigs or bird nests, especially if the birds are still in the nests.

“You probably have been wondering what that tall thing with the drill bit is. That is a drill press. You use it to put holes in items. Those items do not include the family’s inflatable raft, cassette tapes or books.

“See this thing? It shoots flames. It’s the blowtorch we mentioned earlier. It should never be used to heat up hot dogs or roast marshmallows. It is used for soldering and loosening stubborn nuts. Say that again a little louder? That was not a very nice joke.

“Now that we have had this little session, here are a couple tools for each of you. Well, yes, a hammer and a hand saw may seem a bit outdated, but I’m sure with your imagination you’ll go far with them. What’s that? No, you may not have any nails.” 


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