Woodwork your way into kids' expanding interests

January 13, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Rightie, tightie. Leftie, loosie.

Laugh if you must, but it's the only way I can remember how to use a screwdriver.

My brother-in-law, frustrated by my lack of mechanical ability, taught me that little saying a few years ago. Now I know that to make a screw tighter, I turn it clockwise, or to the right. If I want to make it looser, I turn it counter-clockwise, or to the left.

Betcha didn't know I had a part-time job in a carpentry shop.

Well ... I don't.

I'm just a mother who tries to learn about things as her children become interested in them. That way, I can steer them in the right direction. (At least I try.)

We've done a fair share of woodworking projects together. Most of them were well-supervised by people whose knowledge of the trade often left me in the sawdust.


Yet every once in a while I'd understand something that was said.

At a recent workshop, the instructor referred to the angle of the wood and its beveled edge.

My ears perked up.

When we want to get fancy with newspaper headlines, sometimes we'll give them a beveled edge. This makes them appear as if they're three-dimensional, coming off the page.

So, I was thinking that a beveled edge on a piece of wood would have this quality. Actually, it's just a slant.

Regardless, I felt so smart. Then it was time to attach that piece of wood to another piece of wood. What a humbling experience. (Just how hard can a birdhouse with a swinging door be?)

All-in-all, the project turned out OK. My son's door needs a little WD-40, and my daughter's door is on inside-out, but hopefully the birds won't mind.

I keep thinking about the determined look on my daughter's face as she held the hammer with both hands and drove each nail patiently and contentedly into her box. I think she enjoyed the process as much as she will the completed project.

We just have to wait until spring to hang them up and see if our feathered friends approve of our craftsmanship.

In the meantime, we'll probably try our hand at a few other perfect-for-winter woodworking projects. I really like kits because they're relatively easy and all the parts are there. (Translation to other moms: You don't have to use a saw.)

It's even better when an instructor tells you step by step how to put the project together.

Lowe's of Hagerstown on Wesel Boulevard offers these workshops free once a month to the first 50 children who register.

The next one is Saturday, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m. The project is an airplane. It is recommended for grades two through five. Parental supervision is required.

The workshops usually attract 35 to 40 children, but at times are filled to capacity, according to Stephanie Pitsnogle, a Lowe's customer service desk associate. Earlier this week, only a few children had signed up for the airplane project, Pitsnogle said.

She said it will take 15 to 20 minutes to build.

For information or to register for the workshop, call 301-766-7200.

For more wood-working ideas, go to on the Internet and type "Family projects" into the search line.

Happy building. Go easy on your thumbs.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page.

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