As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m the father of two young boys. Today, they’re 3 and 4 years old, so not quite old enough to participate in making/hacking.
But that’s going to change in a hurry. In fact, just yesterday my older son asked me to help him build some birdhouses. Now, I don’t know why my son wants to build birdhouses (I’m assuming he saw it in one of the children’s shows he watches), but you’d better believe that my son and I are going to build birdhouses together. And soon.
My dad always had a garage full of tools. He didn’t often do much with them, but they were there. And he taught me how to use them. I worked mainly with wood, but as far back as I can remember, I was always confident that if I wanted something that could be made of wood, dad and I could make it.
I’ve done some reading recently that makes me think that this is not typical in today’s era. I read in Make magazine today that a college professor teaching a freshman level engineering class this year asked how many of his students had ever used a drill press. Nobody raised their hands.
That absolutely shocks me! I can’t imagine not knowing how to use a drill press. And I can’t imagine raising my sons to not know how to use a drill press.
Though dad had plenty of woodworking tools, that was about the only medium that I felt comfortable working with. My father-in-law is planning on building himself a “Bucket T” car. As a teenager, if you’d talked to me about building a car, I would have thought that you needed a car factory to build a car. You know, only Ford or Chrysler or GM can do that kind of thing.
One of the burning desires I have is that I want my kids to grow up believing that they can make anything. I don’t want their imaginations or ambitions to be crippled by thinking that something can’t be done. And that is a large part of why I’m finally going to build the workshop I promised myself this time last year. (It’s not the only reason, but it’s an important one.)
Then I’m going to have to stock it with tools. I have some basic woodworking tools. I have a stick welder. I’ll need to add a lathe/mill and learn to use them so that I can teach my kids. I’ll have to pick up fiberglass skills somewhere. I’m going to have to build that CNC router I keep dreaming about. And of course add a 3D printer and a laser cutter.
When my son is 14 and comes to me with a great idea of building a go-cart with a lawn mower engine, my son and I are going to be able to head out to the garage and build one. He’s not going to be left with a dream and no opportunity to realize it. We may fail in building the go-cart, but we’ll have fun trying, and we’ll learn something in the process.
He’s going to go to high school one day (or maybe even junior high) and show off the Stirling engine that he built on dad’s lathe. When the physics teacher assigns a group project to his class to build some contraption, his project group is going to meet at our house, because his dad has the workshop and the tools needed to build the best contraption in the physics class competition.
That’s what I want to provide to my children. And that’s why I need a garage workshop.