I never, ever, ever bother to write these things. But, I am so incredibly impressed with this product, that I feel compelled to. My six year old daughter LOVES IT, as does my almost four year old daughter. The hammer is just the right size, and it comes with enough pre-cut (good quality) wood for many projects. So far, they have made a house, car, and a plane-- all of which are far more aesthetically pleasing (to me, as a mom) than the plethora of junky plastic toys that seem to fill our home. We've used these projects both as math lessons (measuring the wood, counting the nails needed, learning about angles, reviewing shapes) and during arts & crafts time; but, with just a little creativity, they could be incorporated into just about any learning subject. For the amount of enjoyment we have received, thus far, this product is already worth the money spent, and we have several more projects to go! We will be buying another for little sister's upcoming birthday, most definitely.
They immediately tried 2 of the projects, and first found that the instructions were a little vague (so many similar sized/shaped pieces - it was difficult to sort them!). The glue included in the kit had separated, and was not usable - but basic wood glue, which we had on hand, worked just fine. The projects turned out great, and, the time spent working on them was priceless!
Synopsis: No room in the garage? Basement not an option? Consider what Ken St. Onge did when he needed shop space: He bought a prefabricated shed and converted it into his full-time woodshop. Because a pre-built shed doesn’t need a cement foundation and is built in a factory, it’s much less expensive than building an addition or stand-alone shop on your property. It can have taller ceilings than a garage and bigger doors than a basement, both big pluses for a woodworker. You can put a shed just about anywhere, too. Here’s a soup to nuts look at Ken’s experience, so you can gauge whether a shop in a shed is right for you.
I am new to woodworking. I'm learning as I go along, and I'm documenting as I learn, in the hope of being helpful to other novices. On the range from slap-dash to deliberate, my method is definitely on the deliberate side. If you have enough experience to be confident in using techniques that are more time-efficient, go for it. The techniques I'm using are those I thought least likely to go wrong, not those that would produce a product in the shortest time or at the lowest cost. You'll notice that I made a number of mistakes, spent considerable time on work I later determined to be unnecessary, and in a number of cases I used different techniques at the end than I did at the beginning. These are all the result of learning. I thought it would be better to demonstrate how I made errors, and how I corrected them, than to provide a set of instructions that presented the false impression that everything went together perfectly.
I’m building my second bench. I built the first years ago with wood from old machinery pallets – mostly oak and maple. Mortised the legs into the base, and pegged ’em with 1″ dowels. Of course, the legs warped a bit, but that made everything tighter and stronger. The top is 2″ thick Ash, one board cut in half and joined side to side. Wrapped a maple apron around the top, and I think I screwed the top from underneath to the leg braces. Solid. Over time, built a cabinet under for 3 drawers and a small cabinet door. Works for me.
Drilling a precisely positioned, deep, wide hole isn't easy, without a drill press. So I bought a WolfCraft drill guide. After experimenting with it, and drilling some test holes, I build a jig around it. I screwed it to a scrap of MDF, and then drilled a carefully-centered 3/4" hole. The MDF can be clamped more easily than the base itself, and the 3/4" hole will keep a 3/4" Forstner bit drilling precisely where it is supposed to.
The bench I will be describing differs from both of these in a couple of areas, the most significant of which is the top. Allen's top was made from three layers of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF), topped and edged with 1/4" hardboard. Christiana's top was just two layers of 3/4" MDF. My top is two layers of 3/4" MDF edged with 1/2" oak and topped by a 1-1/2" thick edge-glued oak Ikea countertop. My top is more expensive in both time and money than either Christiana's or Allen's. If you're looking to build something fast and cheap, I'd recommend Allen's approach over Christiana's. The hardboard significantly increases the durability of the top.
I agree that even at 12x12, things'll be "cozy" inside. That's OK. Keep in mind that this will be a general purpose hobby shed, not just a wood working shed. Even 12x8 would be plenty big enough for building 1 meter wingspan bungee launched RC gliders. And for the electronics projects I do, I only need enough workbench space to do some soldering with a 3rd hand (for electric guitar pedals). If I need more room than the shed offers for wood working projects, I'll just roll the table saw down a ramp and do my cutting outside in the sun.
Although many hand tool operations are thoroughly covered, this is a machine based woodworking experience. You will find the school finely equipped with four table saws, four jointers, three drill presses, three thickness planers, a wood lathe, full dust collection, bandsaws, jig saws and scroll saws, 5 routers and dozens of router jigs and accessories. There is a heavy focus on the safe and efficient use of the table saw starting with it's basic operation and going into advanced production procedures. We consider the table saw to be an essential machine for efficient, accurate, and safe woodworking.
We have more than sixty years of excellence (1956-present) with an annual enrollment of more than 1,000 students in over 35 different classes. The Palomar College Cabinet and Furniture Technology program offers the most comprehensive woodworking career curriculum in the nation. Utilizing three fully-equipped shops, our 2 full-time and 20 part-time instructors provide a breadth of courses and depth of expertise impossible to obtain in smaller programs.