Kids and shop equipment

When I was young growing up in New York, my friends and I would build tree houses in the woods. Our fathers had all sorts of tools, hand and power (gas and electric). One of my favorite tools was a Craftsman Radial Arm Saw in our basement, I remember after school when no one was home I would cut wood on it, either because I wanted to be like my dad or thought it was cool. I can remember the anxiety as a boy when I would start the saw and the piercing noise was scary, even more scary was the anticipation of the saw kicking back on me.

Today my home does not have a basement, is in Arizona, and has no forest behind it for my kids to experience the joys of building things from raw materials.

The tools are also a lot different today. For example today you can buy a Radial Arm Saw that automatically stops the blade (DEAD COLD) if human flesh comes in contact with it. Amazing technology, I worked with a gentleman at the University of Phoenix who would still have a finger if he had this way back when.

I also remember the log splitter, it was on a trailer we would hook to the back of the car. After slicing the trees into two foot sections we would lay them on this hydraulic contraption that squeezed a metal wedge down the middle and split them.

Because of my profession and where I live, my shop tools are pretty limited. I have a table saw, drill, dovetail kit, amp meter, lots of computer stuff, and the normal set of screw drivers and hammer. But I also have something that probably was never considered a home shop tool back when I was a kid, a Laser Engraver and Cutter.

My son loves the computer, he's 9 now but started making maps using UnrealEd when he was 6. He understand 3 dimensional space, and his teachers have said he is doing well with math and geometry I feel it's because of his insight into 3D graphics. Besides his creations with Legos he loves to get a new PS3 or PC game and play with the level editors to make his own version of the game.

So now my son can create things on the computer and not just print them on paper, he can also cut them out of just about any material and create real things. My daughter is also getting creative and has helped me create laser etched glass crystals for my wife. I am glad we have this tool and can be creative as a family.

Here is a video of my son creating a 3D Woolly Mammoth from Birch Plywood, and putting it together after the laser is finished cutting the pieces.