This summer I am teaching the next generation of wood-lovers, wood hobbyists, and perhaps even one or two future cabinet-maker/wood-artists. I preach the gospel of Woodworking in an amazing setting: the wood-shop of the Belmont Hill School in Belmont MA. The school’s summer program attracts kids and teenagers from around the Boston area. Each day I hang my bike on the front rack of bus # 78, and take the ride up the green hill onto the lush campus of Belmont Hill School.
The group I teach is diverse: kids and teenagers, boys and girls. It's a fantastic class of students who are fun to work with. The youngest student in my class is only eleven, the oldest seventeen. But age does not always correlate to better or more accurate saw cuts, chisel handling, innovative thinking or motivation to start and finish the job on time. It is fascinating to see how some kids, who hold a saw or a chisel for the first time, will produce a perfect kerf a minute later. Others will devise clever ways to move their hands in the right way to achieve a successful cut, incorporating sawing-guides and other aids. They love planning and chiseling and gouge-work.
I believe that all of them gain valuable experience: hand–mind skills and impulse control. Most importantly they realize that in some fields of life you just have to plan ahead and execute a project carefully, “you know, we don’t have an ‘undo’ button in woodworking”, I tell them. They manage to finish a project or two over the three weeks of the class, and they all do a good job and feel satisfied with their accomplishments.
Amanda is one of my students. She is only twelve years old but already a master carver, woodworker and clock maker.
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Last year she built a wall clock, this year it's London's Big Ben.