Mar 24 2012

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My Daughter and I Built Another Birdhouse

I had some shop time alone with my daughter yesterday and she wanted to build something. I told her she could use any materials I had in my shop, not just the scrap pieces I usually let her use, if she drew up plans for what she wanted to build. She decided she wanted to build another bird house, so she got out her pencil and I didn’t hear from her for a few minutes.

When she was done, she showed me a the front view of a typical house with the A-frame roof. I told her we needed a side view too. So she drew the side with a roof coming to a peak, so the roof would be shaped like a pyramid. I told her that would be hard to make, so she said let’s just do a flat roof. I also recommended we should lose the perch because it doesn’t help the birds living in the house, just their predators.

Next I asked her to find the materials she wanted to use, she picked some old 6″ wide strips of 3/4″ plywood off my cutoff shelf. I figured the easiest way to proceed would be to make a simple square box, so we measured out 4 – 6″pieces for the sides. She tried cutting it with a handsaw, but she wasn’t getting very far, so I suggested that I cut the pieces for the sides on my miter saw.

At this point our dog Greta wandered into the shop. She doesn’t usually come into my shop, one because she usually lays down right in my way and two because the loud machines bother her. But yesterday for some reason, she wandered over to the corner and laid down out of my way. My daughter left the room though, because my miter saw makes too much noise for her taste.

Once the sides were cut, we stood up the pieces and measured for the floor and roof boards. Again she left the room while I cut the pieces on the miter saw.

When she came back into the shop, she was excited to start hammering nails. I marked the places she needed to start the nails on the boards, but she just wasn’t getting very far — the plywood was much harder material than she was used to. So I let her use my Bosch PS-20 to drive screws instead. The small drill was just about the perfect size for her small hands.

In hindsight I could have drilled pilot holes for all the nails, but she really enjoyed driving the screws.

Once she had the 4 sides and bottom screwed together, we needed to find a hinge for the top so we could clean it out from time to time. I found an old door hinge and the matching screws. I did need to re-drill a few holes because the screws would have been too close to the edge of the plywood.

Finally, I drilled a 1-1/4″ hole in the front of the house for the bird to enter, since my daughter wasn’t comfortable using my big cordless drill.

Many times having my daughter in my shop can be stressful, but yesterday it was very enjoyable. Here’s why I think this time was different:

  • We were the only people in the house, so there were no other distractions.
  • We spent the first 15 minutes in the shop cleaning up so that we had plenty of room to work.
  • We had a plan.
  • The project only took a half an hour.
  • We stopped right away when a task became frustrating (driving nails) and found another way.

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