In today’s fast-paced world, the joys derived from hand-crafted items can seem to have fallen by the wayside. With even
the smallest of consumer items increasing their levels of technology, the old-school nature of a woodturning table and the skills to use it seem from a distant past.
Jeff Slaton, manager of Rockler Woodworking and Hardware in Kennesaw, Georgia, is working to change that perception, starting with the younger generation. His location recently held a Kid’s Day event to introduce the seemingly lost skills of woodworking and hand-tool use to the store’s youngest customers.
“We tied it into the holidays, with the whole idea of elves and wooden toys. We had a professional Santa Claus come in and made a whole day of it for the kids,” Slaton says. “It’s unfortunate that people don’t build at a young age as much as they used to. We have to take every opportunity to develop the next DIY customers.”
The event ended up being far better attended than Slaton had expected, but the staff made sure to put on the displays they had planned and supply the approximately 40 attendees with the tools they needed. The kids were able to work with kits designed for their age, using precut wood pieces and hand tools to build items like birdhouses.
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware also partnered with some area organizations and individuals for the event. Members of the Woodworker’s Guild of Georgia put on demonstrations and passed on their knowledge. Area wood artist Nick Cook, who has helped the local school system with its arts program and is renowned for his woodturning skills, also attended.
Technology wasn’t completely absent either, as Cook showed the kids how to make a wooden speaker for their smartphones using the skills and tools he had on hand. Other demonstrations included spinning tops and building blocks fashioned using a router table.
“I have friends in their early 30s that look in awe at some of this stuff because they were never exposed to that skill set,” Slaton says. “We want to open everyone’s eyes so they realize this is a fun and easy-to-learn skill. These kids got to see something they normally buy off a shelf created right in front of them, and for some, it was the first time they had a hammer in their hand. That’s a powerful moment.”