Monday, February 4, 2013

The Breakfast Club

This morning Danger Boy and I filled out his application to participate in the school science fair.  We looked through some sample projects on the school’s website, but everything seemed so canned, or had already been done so many times before.  As we talked about the project it hit us…we should do something from the workshop.  After pondering a bit about what we could do that would involve a good exercise in practicing scientific methods we (OK I suggested) that we test different wood species’ reaction to water.  It’s a great subject that he’ll be able to do some reading on, build a presentation around, and we have at least a dozen different species to choose from down in our shop.

Not only will this be a great exercise to expose my budding seven year old woodworker to the mechanics of wood as a material, and in how to conduct scientific experiments, but I’ll also be able to show him (show him, not let him…yet) how we can size all of our samples to the same dimensions with the jointer, planer and table saw.  He’ll be able to check the lengths, check for square, observe the differences between the various wood types…all kinds of fun stuff!  Now I’m getting excited!  I’d better organize the shop this evening so that we can prepare all of our samples tomorrow after work.

For those of you who don’t have a science fair in which to participate and just can’t wait for the results of our own experiment, you can check out an outstanding resource on the properties of wood by R. Bruce Hoadley.  His book, “Understanding Wood” has been a go-to resource in the woodworking community for over a decade now.  It was one of our text books when I took a few classes at Santa Fe Community College back in New Mexico.  Bruce was also one of the wood properties experts writing for Fine Woodworking in the very early years of the magazine.  He does an excellent job laying out the various properties of wood and how they can impact or influence our use of this material in our work.

(shudder) I just had a nerd moment…remember The Breakfast Club? 

“And what do you do in the physics club?”   “Well, we talk about physics…and properties of physics…”

“Pete, what do you do in the wood club?”   “Well, we talk about wood…and properties of wood…”

Be sure to check this great resource out at your local library, or pick up a copy for yourself.  I happen to like the technical side of things, so I’ll be hanging on to my copy for a long time…and it should come in quite handy for our, I mean the boy’s, science fair project.

Now shut down your computer and Get Woodworking!


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