Grandkids In The Workshop

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 03-09-2010 03:59 PM 2271 reads 1 time favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A Gathering Place For The Grandkids

The shop is becoming a regular gathering place for the grandkids when they visit. I always go through the emotions and thoughts of, “Not now – I have to get this project done.”

But once again, I relent and tell the kids, “You know where the stuff is, get it out. And you can set up over there on that end of the bench.” I shouldn’t be working on Sunday anyways – right?

The “stuff” includes the hammers, nails, glue gun, markers and what ever else they fancy to be a part of their project.


Don’t Be So Stingy!

While the kids were getting their supplies out, I was picking through the materials and came to a realization – Don’t Be So Stingy!

Recently, I went through a big shop organizational effort and had given away or burnt years of scraps that I had hoarded, each piece had been earmarked with the thought “I can use this someday…”

Some of it was highly figured wood, but to be honest, most of it was ordinary. Just like any other piece that I could find sitting on top of the bunk at my local wood supplier. So what was I holding on to it for?

I don’t have to go out of my way to accumulate scraps of wood in the shop, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Allowing the kids to come into the shop is a great way to cull out some of the material that tends to build up over time. I decided to override my hoarding instinct and let the kids use those pieces that, in reality, would be there 2 years from now if I did not share them.

The Empty Box Effect

You guys know what the empty box effect is right? It’s when you give the kids a gift and they find the empty box more fascinating than the toy itself.

Call me lazy, but I call it smart parenting (or grandparenting in my case) to take advantage of this. I don’t plan out anything that the kids have to build. I just provide the various shapes of wood and let the kids’ imagination take over.

There is plenty of skill and coordination being developed while they work on their project. And I like to think that by allowing them free expression, I am encouraging the next generation to be more creative and think outside the box. Perhaps I am raising the next generation of studio furniture artisans:)

Ultimately, I don’t really care if it is woodworking that they enjoy. For kids it is just about being creative, no matter what the medium is, and the shop is just one great big, ultimate craft room.


When I decided to let go of a piece of plywood, that had a curved shape on one edge, my grandson found a shark’s fin hiding within it. Now what good would it have done if I had kept that piece on the shelf?

Your friend in the shop – Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

40 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4158 days

#1 posted 03-09-2010 04:08 PM

Great photos Todd. Those two are obviously hooked. Definite woodworkers in the making.

Great advice on working with the kids. Thanks for posting.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View stevo_wis's profile


128 posts in 4077 days

#2 posted 03-09-2010 04:16 PM


-- Stevo

View Bret's profile


166 posts in 4544 days

#3 posted 03-09-2010 04:19 PM

I love this. Guess I’ll turn my kids loose in the scrap bin this weekend and see what they can create!

-- Woodworking is easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510...

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5149 days

#4 posted 03-09-2010 04:24 PM

The key is to let their imagination do all the work;)

Just be there for safety.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 5029 days

#5 posted 03-09-2010 04:27 PM

Good job Todd. You sure don’t look old enough for grandkids.

I know first hand the gammet of emotions involved in having grandchildren in the shop.

Two of my grand daughters were visiting a while back, and I was elected babysitter. We spent what seemed like a couple hours in the shop. Turns out it was about five hours. There mother was very impressed. Actually, so was I! I had a good time.

Nice post.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4469 days

#6 posted 03-09-2010 04:35 PM

That’s awesome, Todd. I am going to make it a point to have my kids in the shop with me ASAP. Thanks for the inspiration.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 4153 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 04:37 PM

Thank you for reminding us to just let go some times.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5149 days

#8 posted 03-09-2010 04:52 PM

bigfish – For me, that was the key lesson. Just learn to let go and loosen up.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4722 days

#9 posted 03-09-2010 05:06 PM

Great post, Todd.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5349 days

#10 posted 03-09-2010 05:11 PM

That’s what I call a terrific Grandpa.

The kids will never forget the good times they had in your shop.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View mikethetermite's profile


602 posts in 4316 days

#11 posted 03-09-2010 05:46 PM

Grandkids are the greatest.
It is really fun to watch them work on their own “projects”. They also learned the rules quickly.

If anyone is working, all must wear safety glasses. Each has their own. If any loud equipment is being used ear muffs are worn.

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 4153 days

#12 posted 03-09-2010 06:16 PM

My <2 grandson lives with us. I seem to get nothing done at times, but we have a great time doing it.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5012 days

#13 posted 03-09-2010 06:26 PM

Hey, Grandpa, Can I come play in your shop????? Great post, Todd. I have some leather that was stamped by my granddaughters when they were around 6. They are treasures. I encourage everyone to do as Todd does.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4627 days

#14 posted 03-09-2010 06:31 PM

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4871 days

#15 posted 03-09-2010 06:35 PM

Todd, It is wonderful to see you getting them involved in the shop. It keeps them entertained, is a world of improvement for them in that is beats sitting in front of a television and playing video games, and is just down right fun for you as well.

As I have said many times they seem to be a whole lot more fun than I ever remember their parents being. Enjoy them while you can. The real world projects can wait.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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