Blog #58 – Using Local Resources for Teaching Wood Carving to Kids

By Paul Meisel


Although most of my blogs revolve around the methods I use to teach woodworking to my students, this time I have done something different!  I explore other resources in my community where children can learn creative skills.  What I found was that there are a wide variety of excellent resources for teaching a whole variety of skills to kids. 


One such source that is near my home is the Minnetonka Center for the Arts located in Wayzata, MN.  I am familiar with this facility because I have taken several metal sculpture classes there.  What I didn’t realize was that this summer their course listing includes over 80 different art classes for students between the age of 5 and 15!


Course titles such as Comic Arts, Clay Creatures, Incredible Masks, Personal Pottery, Sculpture Techniques and Teen Welding were just a few intriguing classes offered this summer. 


One class that especially caught my eye was a wood carving class for kids from 13 to 15 years old.  I stopped by to observe this class taught by seasoned woodcarver Lee Olson.  Lee has been carving for over 20 years and has a great deal of knowledge and experience to pass on to his students. 


Lee starts out showing each student how to carve a snake.  Starting with a pre-cut rough shape, he shows students the basics for this beginning project.


He then lets each student choose a second project for which he prepares a rough sawn basswood blank.


Here are some of the projects Lee and his students worked on the day I stopped in to visit:


Antonia and Max are both carving birds.


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#2june 16, 2014 025a.jpg


Cathy is working on a rooster.

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Check out the bunny Julia made (in the foreground).

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Isabel is wood burning her project to add color and texture.

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Lee shows off several projects he has carved so kids can see the


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Lee shows me a product called Feed-N-Wax which he uses to finish his wood carvings.

#7june 16, 2014 022a.jpg 


Although Lee’s class will not be offered again this year, the point is that excellent classes in general are offered in many locations around the country and at various times.  Check what local resources are available in your area.  Local school districts, Community Education, art centers and individual instructors are all possibilities.  While resources will vary widely depending on where you live, it is worth checking what is available.  Expose your children to new experiences by utilizing local talent.   


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties




Spinning Top – Blog #57 Part 3 of 3

by Paul Meisel on ‎06-18-2014 09:01 AM

Spinning Top

Blog #57 Part 3 of 3


7.) Glue the wheel onto the dowel 3/4" from the point of the dowel.


Top - photo 17.jpg 




Wipe a clear finish on all pieces and let dry.


Top - photo 18.jpg


Show time! – Now it’s time to demonstrate how your top works.


1.) Slip the long part of the dowel into the handle.


2.) Thread a piece of shoestring through the 1/8” hole and wind the string around the dowel.


3.) Position the project so the top is a little above the table top and hold it so it is straight up and down.


Top - photo 19.jpg


4.) With one hand on the handle and the dowel held vertically, pull the string!

The top should spin for some time.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties

Spinning Top – Blog #56 Part 2 of 3

by Paul Meisel ‎05-05-2014 08:21 AM - edited ‎05-05-2014 08:26 AM

Spinning Top

Blog #56 Part 2 of 3


Using the drill press, re-drill the hole to enlarge it to 13/64”.  First drill only about one-half way through.  Then turn the wood over and finish drilling the hole from the other side.  This method helps prevent “chip-out” which would occur if you drilled all the way through at one time.


9.) Trace the pattern (or glue the paper pattern directly onto your wood with temporary bond spray adhesive) and cut the handle to shape.


Top - photo 9.jpg 


10.) Sand smooth.


Top - photo 10.jpg


Making the Spinning Portion


The top itself is made using a wood dowel and a toy wood wheel.  Prepare a wood dowel as follows:


1.) Measure 4-1/2” from the end of a piece of 3/8” diameter dowel and mark with a pencil.


Top - photo 11.jpg 


2.) Cut the dowel to length on the miter saw.


Top - photo 12.jpg 


3.) Hold the dowel about 45 degrees to the surface of the disc sander and rotate the dowel to sand one end to form a point.


Top - photo 13.jpg 


4.) Measure 2-1/2” from the pointed end and mark with a pencil.


Top - photo 14.jpg 


5.) Use a scratch awl to mark the location of the hole to be drilled.  CAUTION:  Hold the dowel tightly so it doesn’t roll when you push down on the scratch awl.


Top - photo 15.jpg 


6.) Mount a 1/8” bit in the drill press check and drill a hole through the dowel.  Important: Be sure the dowel is positioned directly under the bit.  Hold it tightly and drill the hole through.


Top - photo 16.jpg 


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties


Spinning Top - Blog #55 Part 1 of 3

by Paul Meisel on ‎09-10-2013 02:58 PM

Spinning Top

Blog #55 Part 1 of 3


My students loved making and using this toy.  It is appropriate for children as young as 9 years old as long as they have completed the lessons on using the drill press and using the scroll saw (these are covered in my Blogs #6 – #9 and #38 - #40). 


If students haven’t completed the scroll saw units they could instead cut the project with a coping saw (Blog #30 - #31)


This project requires a 6” length of “1 x 2” stock, a 4-1/2” length of 3/8” diameter wood dowel, and a 2” diameter wood toy wheel.


A spinning top is a toy that can spun by pulling on a string which has been wrapped around it’s shaft.  The top will keep spinning for quite a while.


The top is one of the oldest toys found on archaeological sites.  It was invented by many different people in many different parts of the world, so we have no way of knowing who invented it first.


Tops are used for other things than toys.  They have been used for gambling and prophets have used them to try and predict coming events.  A type of top is used in some board games in the form of a spinner. 


Tops are featured in National Championships in Chico, California and in the World Championships in Orlando, Florida.


Parts of the spinning top project




Shaft and wood wheel


Pull String


Making the Handle


The handle has a hole which holds the top.  


1.) Locate a piece of wood 3/4” thick x 1-3/4” wide.


2.) Measure and mark a point 6” from one end.


Top photo 1.jpg


3.) Saw to length on the miter box.


Top - photo 2.jpg


4.) Measure 7/8” from one end and mark a point on one edge of the wood.


Top - photo 3.jpg


5.) Using a square, locate the center of the edge of the wood.


Top - photo 4.jpg


6.) Mark the center with a scratch awl.


Top - photo 5.jpg


7.) Drill a 3/16” hole through the handle.


Top - photo 6.jpg


8.) Mount a 17/32” bit in the drill press.


Top - photo 7.jpg


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties





Ladybug Back Massager – Part 2 of 2

by Paul Meisel on ‎06-07-2013 09:38 AM

Ladybug Back Massager – Part 2 of 2

Blog #54


Introductory Photo.jpg


In Blog #53 we used a sharp #2 lead pencil to layout the shape of the ladybug body on a 3/4” x 4-1/2” x 4-1/2” piece of pine lumber.  We drilled the holes for the legs at a 12 degree angle.  In this blog we finish the project.


Cut the ladybug body to size on the scroll saw.


Photo #9.jpg


Erase any pencil lines from the bottom of the body and sand the edges of the body as needed.     


Cut four pieces of 1/4” wood dowel rod 2” long (or just use 1/4” diameter x 2” dowel pins as shown in the photo).  You will also need four feet (1” diameter pre-drilled wood balls).


Photo #10.jpg


Glue the legs in the holes in the body and the wood balls.


Photo #11.jpg


Brush on a coat of sanding sealer.  Let dry and lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.


Photo #12.jpg


Paint the 3” circular shape on the body red.  You can paint only the top surface.  Red usually takes two coats for good coverage.


Photo #13.jpg


An easy way to apply the black paint is with a paint pen.  Paint the ladybug head black and draw a black stripe down the center of the back.  Draw spots as shown.


This completes the project.  Now it’s time to try it out on a friend.  Hold the ladybug body in one hand and rub someone’s back.  Don’t push too hard.  This project makes a nice paper weight or can be used as a toy.  It also makes a nice gift for mom or dad.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties



Ladybug Back Massager - Part 1 of 2

by Paul Meisel on ‎04-24-2013 08:28 AM

Ladybug Back Massager - Part 1 of 2

Blog #53


Introductory Photo.jpg


Besides making a cute ladybug, this project serves the useful function of a back massager.


From a teaching standpoint, students learn how to drill angles by tilting the table on the drill press.  They will learn how to adjust the drill press table to a 12 degree tilt, set-up a positioning jig on the drill press table and set the stop on the drill press.


Begin by precutting a piece of 3/4” pine 4-1/2” x 4-1/2” for each student.


The total layout is shown in photo. #1.   


Photo #1.jpg 


Students will need to draw layout lines on their wood as follows:


With a sharp #2 lead pencil, draw light diagonal lines from corner to corner.  Then, measuring from the center point, mark a point 1-1/4” from center on each of the four lines as shown in photo 2.


Photo #2.jpg 


Set the compass radius to 1-1/2” and draw a 3” in diameter circle.


Photo #3.jpg 


With a try square, draw a line through the center and across the circle as shown.


Photo #4.jpg 


Set the compass to a radius of 5/8” and swing an arc as shown to mark the location of the ladybug’s head.  Mark the hole locations with a scratch awl.


Photo #5.jpg 


Set the tilt on the drill press to 12 degrees.


Photo #6.jpg 


Make a setup jig with a “V” notch and bolt it to the drill press table.  The jig pictured measures 2” x 6” and has a “V” notch measuring 1-3/4” on each edge.  Because you will be drilling the holes at a slight angle, a brad point bit is preferred.  The reason is that this bit has a small tip that will help to guide it into the angled hole.  To set up the jig, first drill one hole.  Then, with the drill press switch in the “off” position, and the bit lowered into the hole, clamp the board in place with a C-clamp.  Now position the jig as shown.  Attach it to the drill press table with two 1/4” diameter x 1” long carriage bolts, two flat washers and two hex nuts. Set the drill press depth stop to drill a 1/2” deep hole.  Remove the C-clamp.


Photo #7.jpg


With the drill press set-up now complete, you are ready to drill the holes for the legs.  Position one corner of the wood block at a time in the notch of the jig and drill each of the leg holes. 


Photo #8.jpg


Blog 54 will include sawing out the body of the ladybug, adding the legs and final finishing.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties



Wood Bending – Making a Flying “Helicopter” Project

Blog #52


Canoes, violins, toboggans, baskets, snowshoes and many other familiar items are made from wood which has been bent.


The term “steam bent wood” refers to wood which has been subject to the moist heat from steam to soften the wood fibers and make them yield to bending.  This method allows reasonably tight curves to be achieved.


When wood only needs to be bent a small amount, hot steam may not be needed.  Instead, the wood can be soaked in water, after which a mild bend can be made.


This project is a helicopter rotor and it really flies!  To build it students get experience in bending wood.


The process includes:


1.) Soaking the wood in water

3.) Placing the wood in the bending jig until it takes on the shape of a propeller

4.) Letting the wood dry

5.) Remove it from the jig

6.) Gluing a shaft onto the propeller


This project provides experience bending wood by soaking it in water and then placing it in a bending jig.  By keeping the wood bent until it dries it will retain its new shape.


The piece of wood to be bent will be a tongue depressor.  With a rule and a sharp pencil, locate and mark the center of the wood.  Mark the center with the scratch awl.


Hellicopter 1.jpg


Dill a 3/16” hole through the center of the wood for the 3/16” wood dowel.. 


Hellicopter 2.jpg


Put the tongue depressor in a container of warm water and soak it for at least one hour.


Hellicopter 3.jpg


Place the wet tongue depressor in the bending jig.  The jig shown below are nothing more that two 7” long pieces of wood, each with a saw slot cut down the center of one edge.  A block of wood supports the center of the wood and the ends of the jig pieces are held in position with hand screw clamps.


Hellicopter 4.jpg


After the wood has thoroughly dried, remove it from the bending jig. 


Make the shaft by cutting a piece of 3/16” wood dowel to 7” in length.


Glue one end of the dowel into the hole in the wood.  Let the glue dry.




Now make your helicopter fly!  All you need to do is hold the shaft straight up and down in your hands with the propeller at the top.  Move your hands back and forth to see how you can make the propeller spin.    Look closely at the way the propeller needs to turn to get lift.  You want to spin the propeller in the direction that will allow the propeller to rise.


Make sure you are in a large open area where you won’t damage anything or anyone, then slide your hands to spin the shaft and watch your helicopter fly into the air. 


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties








Star Candle Holder Part 2

by Paul Meisel ‎02-20-2013 08:21 AM - edited ‎02-20-2013 08:25 AM

Star Candle Holder Part 2

#51 Blog


It’s time to saw out the three stars on the scroll saw.  Start by cutting out the center star (Fig 7).


Fig. 7.jpg 

Fig. 7: Saw out the center star.   


Then saw out the outside stars (Fig 8)


Fig. 8.jpg 


Fig. 8: Saw out the two remaining stars.


Write your name on the bottom of all three stars. (Fig 9)


Fig. 9.jpg 

Fig. 9: Write your name on the bottom of all three pieces.


Sand the top edges enough so they have a small round-over.  Sand the bottom edges just enough to soften any sharp edges. (Fig. 10)


Fig. 10.jpg


Fig. 10: Sand the pieces.


Paint the top surface of each star.  A red, white and blue color scheme will provide a nice patriotic look. Paint the center star white.  Paint the outside stars red and blue.  (Fig. 11)  You can paint the edges of the stars, but if you do, be sure not to paint those edges which will be glued together.


Fig. 11.jpg


Fig. 11: Paint the center star


Assemble the stars (without glue) and look to see which edges touch.  (Fig. 12)


Fig. 12.jpg 

Fig. 12: Assemble the stars and check the meeting edges.


Put glue only on the edges that touch. (Fig 13)


Fig. 13.jpg


Fig. 13: Glue the mating edges.


Hold the stars together with a rubber band or other type of clamp until the glue dries. (Fig. 14)


Fig. 14.jpg 

Fig. 14: Clamp the pieces with a rubber band.


Install the tealights.  The project is finished! (Fig 15)


Fig. 15.jpg 

Fig. 15: The finished project.


IMPORTANT: Before lighting the candles, reread the safety rules on Blog #51 Part 1


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties





Star Candle Holder Part 1

by Paul Meisel ‎01-21-2013 01:28 PM - edited ‎01-21-2013 01:30 PM

Star Candle Holder Part 1

Blog #50




This project introduces the use of the Forstner bit to drill the holes for the “Tealight” candles.  Besides learning to use this bit to drill the holes for the candles, the project provides more practice using the scroll saw.




Pine Board – 3/4” x 5-1/2” x 9”

Cutting pattern


Spray Adhesive

Newspapers and cardboard spray box

Scratch awl

Drill Press

Forstner bit, 1-1/2”

Spacer block, 3/8”

Scroll saw


Paint, red, white & blue

Paint brush

Carpenter’s glue

Rubber band

Tealights, 3 each



1.) Read the following definition and the safety rules when using candles.


Tealight – A tealight is a small candle used to keep tea or food warmers hot.  Even though they are small, only 1-1/2” in diameter and just over 1/2” high, they will burn for about 4 hours.  A tealight can also be used warm scented oil.  Tealights give off less light than most other candles, so when using them to add soft light to a room, such as this project is designed to do, three candles are used.




1.) Only light candles when someone is in the room.  Do not leave lit candles unattended.


2.) Keep burning candles away from things that can catch fire.


3.) Keep matches and candles away from children.


2.) Prepare the pattern and wood.


Begin with a 5-1/2” x 9” piece of pine and a pattern sheet.  Use a scissors to cut out the pattern. (Fig. 1)  When printing the pattern note the dimensions for the project.  It may be necessary to enlarge or reduce the pattern on a photocopier.


Fig. 1.jpg           

Fig. 1: Cut the pattern.


Lay the pattern upside down in the cardboard spray-glue box.   Hold the can of spray adhesive with the nozzle pointing toward the pattern and about 10 – 14” away from it.   Spray an even coat of adhesive on the back of the pattern (Fig. 2)


Fig. 2.jpg 

Fig. 2: Spray on the adhesive.


Smooth the pattern down with your fingers. (Fig. 3)


Fig. 3.jpg 

Fig. 3: Smooth the pattern down on your wood.


Set the drill press to the slowest speed.  Mount a 1-1/2” Forstner bit in the drill press chuck.  If there is a shoulder on the shaft of the bit, slip the bit in until the shoulder is against the jaws of the chuck. (Fig. 4)


Fig. 4.jpg 

Fig. 4: Slide the bit up until the shoulder touches the jaws and tighten the chuck.


Set the depth so the bit will drill into the wood 3/8” deep.  If using 3/4” wood you can lower the feed handle all the way down, lay a 3/8” spacer on the drill press table and raise the table until the bottom of the bit touches the top of the spacer. (Fig 5)


Fig. 5.jpg 

Fig. 5: Set the drill depth to 3/8”


Use a scratch awl to mark the locations of all three 1-1/2” diameter holes and drill them.  Caution: You are using a very large bit, so feed it in slowly.  Trying to drill too fast could stop the drill press!  But don’t feed the bit too slowly either, or you could overheat the bit. (Fig. 6)


Fig. 6.jpg 

Fig. 6: Drill all three holes.


Star Cutout Pattern.jpg(Blog #51 will cover sawing out and painting the project.)


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties







Chopsticks just for Kids

by Paul Meisel on ‎11-26-2012 08:20 AM

Chopsticks just for Kids


#49 Blog


It’s hard to find a town that doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant.  Taking the kids to experience Chinese food can be an educational experience.  You can make it even more rewarding if you can get the kids to try using chopsticks.


But let’s face it, chopsticks are hard for some kids to use.  So here is a set of chopsticks the kids can make that they can use with ease.  Take them with you next time you eat at a Chinese restaurant.  They will allow kids to gain first hand experience and a better understanding of Chinese ethnicity.


Prepare the stock in advance by ripping strips approximately 3/8” wide x 1/4” thick. (Use all safety precautions when cutting strips this small.)


Since clothespins are manufactured to different specifications depending on the manufacturer, it is best to have your clothespins on hand prior to starting the project.  This project requires the “spring” style clothespins.


From the prepared strips have the kids saw two 12” long pieces.


Separate the wood sides from the spring and lay one wood side against one strip.  Trace the profile of the bottom half of the clothespin.  (Do not trace the part that’s tapered.)


Chopsticks 1.jpg


Remember, the two sides of a clothespin are different.  Be sure to use the other clothespin side to trace onto the second strip.


Now use a sharp pencil and a straight edge to draw the taper on both of the 12” pieces.


Chop Sticks 2.jpg


With a scroll saw, saw the 12” strips to final shape.  Sand them smooth.


Chop Sticks 3.jpg


Apply a non-toxic finish such as Salad Bowl finish or just wipe on a coat of mineral oil from your kitchen cupboard. 


Re-assemble the spring with these new long sides and your finished.  Try using the chopsticks to see how easy it is to work them.


Chop Sticks 4.jpg


You’re ready to take the kids to a Chinese restaurant to try them out!


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties







by Paul Meisel on ‎10-26-2012 01:18 PM



Blog 48 


I have been working with someone who is setting up a woodworking shop for a group of young people.  As we discuss a number of different topics the subject of tools came up.  It occurred to me that while most of my blogs have thus far been about project building, I haven’t really written anything much about tools, especially hand tools.


Safety Glasses


lthough not exactly thought of as a “tool”, you must purchase safety goggles for every child.  I found imported goggles with side shields for around $2.00 each.  Fortunately none of my students wore glasses.  A full cover goggle will be needed for kids who wear their own glasses.  Goggles are not expensive, but they just aren’t as comfortable for the student.


I typed the name of each of my students on the computer and printed their names out in a size type that would fit along the bow.  I then taped their name on the bow.


The compartments on the lower left side of the tool board hold the glasses.




Tool Boards


A tool board should be a requirement for any shop, but is certainly essential when working with children.


The tool board I made while I was teaching at Flagship Academy is pictured below.  It has just about all the hand tools necessary for the projects in all my earlier blogs.  I say “just about” because there might be a special tool used for only one certain project.  Other times you will want to bring in extra of a certain tool if the project requires it.  I put these extra tools in the “universal holders” in the upper left hand corner.  (These holders are empty in the photo.)




Purchasing Tools


The hand tools you will need for teaching woodworking to kids are not expensive, at least they aren’t if you are careful where and when you buy them.


Prior to starting my class at Flagship Academy I kept an eye out for stores running sales of their tools as well as stores selling low cost imported tools.  While tools made in China are the least expensive, you must watch the quality.  For the name plaques (Blog #5) I needed a hammer for each of my students.  To drive the 5/8” x 18 gauge wire nails a 6 oz. claw hammer works fine, but for longer nails, and really for most of the projects in my blogs that require nailing, a 12 oz. hammer is best for this age group (age 9 – 15).  I found such a great sale on the 6 oz. hammers (around a dollar each) that I just couldn’t resist bought a lot of them.  I eventually had to break down and purchase several 12 oz. hammers which, perhaps because they are less popular, cost more that most 16 oz. hammers!


The other tools are pictured in the photo of the tool board.  Don’t forget a place for scissors and tape!


Final Thoughts


Kids like tool boards.  I think they view them as a type of puzzle that must be completed by putting every tool in its place at the end of the work hour.   


If you are teaching your own children or grandchildren in your shop, using a tool board will be helpful to you and the kids.  You can tell the kids they can only use the tools on their own tool board.  The kids will feel an ownership and, perhaps, learn the good habit of keeping each tool in its proper place.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties




Working with 8 Year Olds

by Paul Meisel on ‎09-17-2012 11:38 AM

Working with 8 Year Olds

Blog 47


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have learned from experience that kids should be around 9 years old to have reached the maturity necessary to learn about shop safety and the correct use of hand tools and the power machines.


However that’s not to say younger kids can’t participate.  In an earlier bolg I featured photos of projects made by my grandson, Griffin, who was then 6 years old.  His projects were limited to gluing wood scraps together and coloring them with markers.  But what was most important to me was that he was getting interested in the hobby and he was learning creative skills.


Well Griffin is now 8 years old.  He is still creating projects using wood from our scrap barrel.  Although I haven’t started him on the beginning lessons from my woodworking class (except for some introductory talks on shop safety), he has never-the-less managed to make lots of new projects from scraps. 


Here are some of his latest creations.  Some of these projects may make you smile, but the main hope is that they will encourage you to get children involved in the wonderful hobby of woodwork.


8 year old projects 004.jpg


These projects all go together.  Griffin told me the following story: “The man with the arms and legs I made for my grandpa because he loves lots of colors.  The man has a pet bird and there is a snake who wants to eat the man.  The man has a clock so he can tell what time it is and he has a neighbor who has no arms or legs.”  I think that pretty much explains this grouping.


8 year old projects 005.jpg


Griffin sells some of the projects he makes by putting them on display in our showroom, but often our employees purchase them before the public gets a chance to see them.  I checked our showroom today and saw only two projects currently for sale.  I will say that these two projects are rather unusual, not quite like most of the other projects he makes.  I guess we should encourage creativity anytime we have a chance.


8 year old projects 006.jpg


In the photo above Griffin  glued blocks of wood to make the head, eyes and arms.  It gave a sort of 3-D look to the project.  One of our employees bought this project before it made it to our showroom.


8 year old projects 007.jpg


Here are some random projects I found in some of the employee cubicles in our call center.  I am not sure why the figure on the left has only one eye!  More creativity I guess!


8 year old projects 008.jpg


These projects were purchased by Lorrie, our call center supervisor.  She has them on display across from her office.  I especially like the eyes on the figure on the right.  The eyes were simply a scrap left over from a scroll saw project.


8 year old projects 011.jpg


Griffin wanted to make some projects that would rock back and forth.  He liked the idea of using spokes from an old bicycle wheel for the wire.  I showed him how to remove the spokes from the wheel.  He proceeded to remove every spoke and then asked for help in making wood bodies for his swinging figures.


I cut out a whale shape and two bird shapes as well as some bases. 


When I cut out the bird on the right, I had intended it to be a cardinal (turn the piece counterclockwise 90 degrees in your mind).  To my surprise, Griffin saw a seahorse rather that a bird.  Of course I encouraged him to go with what he saw.


After he colored the wood I helped him drill holes for the wire spokes.  We slipped the spokes through the body and then bent them with a pliers to complete the rocking figures. 


8 year old projects 014.jpg


A self portrait I guess!


8 year old projects 018.jpg


I love this “hand lotion man.”  Griffin gave it to his dad who keeps it on his desk. 


8 year old projects 017.jpg


When I first saw this project I thought the eyes looked very odd.  Since the plastic eyes have a shank coming out of the back, they are typically installed by slipping the shank into a drilled hole.  When I saw how crooked these eyes were, my first thought was “Who helped Griffin drill such a crooked hole?  I learned that he snipped the shanks off with a side cutter and glued them on to the wood (never mind the short stub of the shank that was still attached!)  Of course they look crazy! 


My conclusion – I realize that Griffin is now old enough to start teaching him how to use more tools.  And one of the first tools I will help him with will be the drill press!


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties


Make a Wind Chime

by Paul Meisel on ‎08-27-2012 09:28 AM

Make a Wind Chime

Blog 46  – Part 3


Final Assembly


The last step in this three part blog series is to string your wind chime.


Begin by cutting a 14” length of wind chime string.  Thread the string on a size #14 sewing needle.  Thread the string down through one of the holes around the edge of the base, then through the hole in the shortest wind chime tube, then string up through the next closest hole in the base.


Fig. 23.jpg 

Photo 23: Thread the shortest tube first.


Use a spacer to help make sure the top of the tube is 3/4” away from the bottom surface of the base.



Photo 24: The top of the tube should be 3/4” from the base.


Repeat these steps with the other tubes remembering to attach the next longer tube, then the next longer tube and so on as you go all the way around the base.


After you have tied all the knots, use a scissors to trim off the excess string.


Fig. 25.jpg 

Photo 25: Cut off excess string.


Now cut a 20” length of string and thread it through the hole in the center of the base.  Tie several knots to make a knot ball large enough so that the string can’t be pulled down through the hole.


Thread the other end of the string through the hole in the clapper.  Tie another large knot ball under the clapper so that the top of the clapper is about 6” below the base.


Fig. 26.jpg 

Photo 26: Attach the clapper.


Thread the string through the hole in the wind catcher and tie a knot.  The wind catcher should be 5-1/2” to 6-1/2” from the bottom of the clapper.  Make a large enough loop so the wind catcher will hang straight.


Fig. 27.jpg 

Photo 27: Attach the wind catcher.


Re-attach the top decoration with 2 screws.


Fig. 28.jpg 

Photo 28: Re-attach the top decoration.


Cut a piece of string at least 18” long.  Thread it through the hole at the top of the large tree and tie the ends together.


This completes your wind chime.  It is now ready to hang outdoors where it can catch the wind.  Enjoy the pleasant sound your wind chime makes.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties










Make a Wind Chime

by Paul Meisel ‎08-02-2012 08:24 AM - edited ‎08-02-2012 08:37 AM

Make a Wind Chime

Blog 45  – Part 2


Glue the Three Trees Together to Make the Top Decoration


Pound two -1/4” x 17 gauge wire brads in each of the small trees.


Fig. 12.jpg

Photo 12: Start the nails.


Pound each brad down until the tip just barely breaks through the back surface of the tree.  This is done so the wood won’t slide out of place when you glue and finish nailing.  Important: Pound on a piece of scrap wood, not on the table top!


Fig. 13.jpg 

Photo 13: The tips of the nails should just break through.


Spread water resistant glue on the back surface of one of the small trees.  Position it on the large tree and press it down to force the nail tips into the large tree.  Important: The pieces should be even on the bottom.


Fig. 14.jpg 

Photo 14: Spread water resistant glue on the surface of one the small trees.


Spread glue on the other small tree and nail it to the other side of the large tree.


Fig. 15.jpg 

Photo 15: Nail and glue a small tree to each side of the large tree.


Wipe off any excess glue “squeeze-out” using a damp paper towel.  Set your parts aside until the glue dries.


Screw the Base to the Top Decoration


Position the top decoration on the top of the base.  The pattern shows the exact position to place the top decoration.  Slip a scratch awl through the 5/32” holes in the base to mark where to mark the locations to drill the screw pilot holes in the top decoration. Another way to mark the screw pilot hole locations is to gently tap the screws with a hammer.  TIP: Hold the top decoration I a vise when marking the screw pilot hole locations.


Fig. 16.jpg 

Photo 16: Tap the screws to mark the pilot hole locations.


If you will be using a #6 gauge screw, drill 7/64” screw pilot holes in the bottom of the top decoration.  You can do this using a hand drill or a drill press.  Drill to the depth needed for the length of screw you are using. (Drill 3/4” deep holes if using 1-1/2” long screws.)


Fig. 17.jpg 

Photo 17: Drill the screw pilot holes.


Remove the paper pattern form the base and screw the base to the top decoration with two screws (no glue!).  Check that the base fits tight against the bottom of the top decoration.  Now remove the screws so the pieces can be finished.


Fig. 18.jpg 

Photo 18: Screw the base to the top decoration to check fit.


Apply the Wood Finish


Brush on a coat of exterior acrylic latex wood primer to all wood pieces.  Tip: Hold the wood pieces between your thumb and forefinger and paint around al edges.  Then lay the piece on triangle drying sticks and prime the top side.  When dry, turn over and prime the other side.


Fig. 19.jpg 

Photo 19: Prime all parts.


When the primer has dried, sand it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.


Fig. 20.jpg 

Photo 20: Sand the primer smooth.


Paint on the top coat(s) in the same way you painted the primer.


Fig. 21.jpg 

Photo 21: Paint the top coats.


Set all pieces aside until the paint is dry.  Re-drill all 14 of the 7/64” string holes to clean out any paint from the holes.


Fig. 22.jpg 

Photo 22: Re-drill the 7/64” holes to clean out any paint.


Blog #46 will cover stringing the wind chime.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties





Make a Wind Chime

by Paul Meisel ‎05-29-2012 03:02 PM - edited ‎05-29-2012 03:06 PM

Make a Wind Chime

Blog 44 Part 1


Woodworking for kids May 2010 076.jpg


The purpose of this project is to use previously learned skills including drilling and using the scroll saw.


A wind chime is a special type of musical instrument.  You don’t have to be a musician to play a wind chime.  All you need to do is hang it outside where the wind will blow.

When the wind blows hard enough, it will move the wind catcher.  The wind catcher pushes the clapper back and forth, causing it to hit (or clap) against the wind chime tubes.


Wind chimes provide a pleasant sound whenever the wind blows hard enough to cause the clapper to clap against the tubes.


Wind chimes have other uses besides making a pleasant sound.  One such use is to scare away nuisance birds.  While it is fun to watch adult birds build nests and raise their young, when they do so too near the entrance to your house it can cause a problem.  For example, when the birds are feeding their young, they may “dive bomb” you to try and keep you away.  The sound of a wind chime can discourage birds from building their nests in unsuitable places such as too near the door of your house.

Here’s another use for a wind chime: Listen for the sound of a wind chime from inside your home.  If you hear it, you will know that it is windy outside.  In this case, you might decide to wear a jacket.


About the Wind Chime you will be Building


The top of the wind chime is decorated with three pine trees.  If you feel creative, instead of the pine trees you may wish to design your own three-layer top decoration.  You can make your own sketch or take a design from a book or magazine.  If you decide to do so, keep in mind that the bottom three layers must be no larger than the area outlined on the drawing of the base piece.  If you try to make it larger you might cover up the holes for the strings which are located around the outside of the base piece.


Getting Started


1.) The patterns are provided at the end of this blog.  Use a scissors to cut the rectangular shape box around the patterns.


Fig. 1.jpg


Photo 1: Cut on the rectangles around each of the pattern sheets.


2.) You will need a 7-1/2” long piece of “1 x 4” and two 8-1/2” long pieces of “1 x 6”.  Wipe the top surface of each board with a brush or rag to remove any dust gluing the patterns to your wood.


Fig. 2.jpg


Photo 2: Wipe dust from the surface of your wood.


Important: Before using spray adhesive, review the safety rules and tips below.


A) Wear safety glasses.

B) Shake the can vigorously before using.

C) Look for the arrow on the nozzle to see which way it points.  Be sure you aim the nozzle toward the paper pattern (and away fro you).

D) The over-spray is sticky, so always spray inside a cardboard box.

E) Hold the nozzle 8 – 12 inches away from your pattern.

F) Spray the back of your paper pattern.

G. When you are finished, hold the can upside down and spray a few seconds to “clean” the nozzle.


3.) Place on of the patterns face down inside the spray box.  Hold the can with the nozzle pointing toward the pattern.  Spray a light coat of adhesive on the back of the pattern.


Fig. 3.jpg


Photo 3: Spray the adhesive on the back of the pattern.


Do not spray so much adhesive that the pattern gets “wet.”  Let the paper dry for a few minutes if you have over-applied the adhesive.


4.) Attach the first pattern to your wood by pressing down with your fingers.  Attach the other patterns in the same manner.


Fig. 4.jpg


Photo 4: Apply the patterns to your wood and press them down with your fingers.


5.) Saw out the pieces on the scroll saw.  A blade with 12 to 15 teeth per inch works well for sawing 3/4” wood.  Saw out all six pieces.




Photo 5: Cut out all pieces on the scroll saw.


Sand all sharp edges.


With a scratch awl, mark the location of each of the 7/64””string” holes in the clapper, base, wind catcher and the large tree.




Photo 6: Use a scratch awl to mark the locations of all 6 holes.


Adjust the drill press speed to between 2000 and 2500 RPM.  Install a 7/64” twist bit.  Adjust the table height so that the drill bit will go all the way through your wood.




Photo 7: Drill all 7/64” holes through.


With a scratch awl, mark the locations of both 5/32” “screw clearance” holes in the base.  Install a 5/32” twist bit in the drill press.  Drill the 5/32” holes all the way through your wood.




Photo 8: Drill both 5/32” screw clearance holes through.


Install a countersink in the drill press, turn the base over and countersink the screw holes on the bottom side.




Photo 9: Countersink the two screw clearance holes on the bottom side.


Check that the screw heads are even with the bottom (or just slightly below) surface of the base.  If the screw heads stick up, go back and countersink them a bit deeper.




Photo 10: The screw heads should be even with or just slightly below the surface.


Remove the papers patterns from all pieces except the Base piece.




Print out the 3 the patterns below.  Note: You may have to re-size them using a photocopier.  For reference, the large circle (the base) is 4-1/2” in diameter.


wind chime 1 illus.jpg

wind chime 2 illus.jpg

wind chime 3 illus.jpg






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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties








Hardwood Pencil Holder

by Paul Meisel ‎04-11-2012 01:37 PM - edited ‎04-11-2012 01:41 PM

Blog #43


Hardwood Pencil Holder

Paul Meisel


Pencil Holder Photo 1.jpg                                                                                                                                             

In all earlier blogs I have specified softwood for the building material.  The reason is simply that pine or other softwood is generally easier for kids to work with.  For this project I recommend you use a hardwood.  Any hardwood would be fine, but I prefer oak.  Oak has a nice grain pattern and, since it is often used in furniture, picture frames and for moldings around doors and windows, young people should become familiar with oak and be able to identify it when they see it. 


The machines necessary to make this project include the miter box and the drill press.  The use of these tools has been covered in earlier blogs.


Here is a list of completely new things students will be learning:


            1.) Working with hardwood.

            2.) Cutting a 15 degree angle on the miter box.

            3.) Drilling a deep hole in end grain.

            4.) Using magnetic strip.


It is important to teach students the difference between hardwood and softwood.  Softwoods come from evergreen or needle-bearing trees.  Common softwoods include pine, cedar, fir and redwood.  Hardwoods come from broad-leafed trees that shed their leaves in the fall.  Common hardwoods include cherry, poplar, oak, maple, walnut, birch, ash and maple. 


Although hardwoods are usually harder than softwoods, this is not always the case.  Some softwoods are actually harder that some hardwoods.  One example is poplar.  Poplar is classified as a hardwood, but it is rather soft and easy to work.


Getting Started


Prepare the wood for this project by ripping a 3/4” wide strip from a piece of 3/4” lumber. 


Check that the end is square.  Then measure and make a mark 3-1/2” from the end.


Pencil Holder Photo 2.jpg


Photo 2: Measure 3-1/2” from the end of the wood.


2.) Saw to length in the miter box.


Pencil Holder Photo 3.jpg


Photo 3: Saw to length.


3.)  Locate the center of one end and mark with a scratch awl.


Pencil Holder Photo 4.jpg


Photo 4: Mark the center of one end.


4.) Install a 5/16” twist drill in the drill press.  Clamp the stock securely.  Drill a 2-1/2” deep hole.


Pencil Holder Photo 5.jpg


Photo 5: Drill the hole for the pencil.


5.) With the miter box, saw the drilled end at a 15 degree slant. 


Pencil Holder Photo 6.jpg


Photo 6: Saw the end 15 degrees.


6.) Sand the project and apply wood finish. 


7.) Cut a 3-3/8” long strip of magnetic strip.  Remove the backing to expose the pressure sensitive adhesive and stick to the long side of the project.


Pencil Holder Photo 7.jpg


Photo 7: Attach magnetic strip.


8.) Attach to the side or front of your refrigerator and slip a pencil in the hole.


Paul Meisel -
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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties






Tree Cookies

by Paul Meisel on ‎03-23-2012 06:17 AM

#43 Blog


Tree Cookies


I spoke recently with Terry Helbig, a Forester here in the State of Minnesota.  He works out of the DNR office in Lake City.  I was telling Terry about teaching woodworking to my students at Flagship Academy when the subject of tree cookies came up.  I hadn’t heard this term before, but after doing some checking I realized what a great idea this would be for teaching kids how trees grow, the parts of a tree and give them an idea of  time lines – counting the age of a tree and locating the year they were born by counting annular rings.


What is a Tree Cookie?


A tree cookie is just a cross section of a tree trunk.  They will vary in diameter depending on how old the tree is.  By sanding the surface smooth enough to see the annular rings, kids can find out how old the tree was when it was cut down.


Trained foresters who are familiar with trees can estimate the tree’s age, but for most of us, the only way to know a tree’s age is to count the annular rings.


Annular rings tell us more than just a trees age.  A wide ring would tell us that there was a greater that average amount of growth that season.  This might be because of abundant water, sunlight, nutrients or other factors.


Below is a tree cookie cut from an oak tree that was approximately 100 years old.  In the center is a pin to show when the tree was “born.”  The green labels have names of people in one family with their dates of birth (and the year they were married).  The outer rings have the names of this family’s children as well as a niece and a nephew.  The blue labels at the bottom record interesting events and how old the tree was when those events occurred.  They include the year Charles Lindberg made his trans-Atlantic crossing, the year Bugs Bunny was created, the year World War II started, the year the Hula Hoop was invented, etc.


Tree Cookie Fig. 1.jpg


Figure 1: A Sample Tree Cookie


Using Tree Cookies to teach kids about trees


Cut cookies from tree trunks at least 3 to 4” in diameter (the trees don’t have to be 100 years old!).  Have kids sand their tree cookie smooth enough so they can see and count the annular rings.  Once they have determined how old the tree was when it was cut, have them mark the annular rings to show when they were born.  Have them add dates of other events important to them.


More Information


Try an internet search using the term “tree cookie.”  Here’s just a few of the helpful resources I found:  The Tree Cookie Game (  It is a fun and educational game developed by the U.S. Dept. of Forestry.


Another good guide is called Connecting Kids to Nature put out by the Minnesota Department of Forestry  (From their home page click on DNR for Kids, then click on Project Learning Tree Family Activities and then click on Activity 76: Tree Cookies.) You will find an activity guide for learning the parts of a tree and about tree growth.  Included is a word search puzzle for learning the parts of a tree trunk.


Also from the Minnesota Department of Forestry comes Project Learning Tree.  Their web site is  Project Learning Tree provides ideas for teaching kids about forestry and the environment.  Minnesota Project Learning Tree accepts tree cookie donations which they in turn distribute at no charge to schools in Minnesota for classroom teaching. 


A gaint old Tree Cookie


My wife and I took my 6 year old grandson, Charlie, to the Science Museum in St. Paul where I photographed this giant tree cookie.  It is a section of Douglas-fir that was felled in 1930 near Longview, Washington.  This 600 year old tree was 300 feet tall and produced 30,000 board feet of lumber.   


Thee Cookie Fig. 2.jpg


Figure 2: A Large Tree Cookie


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties






Making a Spin-A-Roo

by Paul Meisel ‎02-22-2012 09:42 AM - edited ‎02-23-2012 09:39 AM

Blog #41


Making a Spin-A-Roo


This is a simple toy that has been made and enjoyed by people for many years.  This star shaped project is cut on the scroll saw from 1/4” plywood.  Here’s how it works:


A piece of string is threaded through the two center holes in the star and the two center holes in each handle.  The ends of the string are then tied together in a knot to make a loop.  Hold one handle in each hand with the wood star in the middle.  Hold your hands about 10 inches apart and make a circular motion to “wind” the star on the loop of string.  Then, before the star has a chance to unwind, pull your hands apart to make the star spin.  As the star starts to slow down, move the handles just close enough together to allow the star to continue spinning in the opposite direction.  Before the star comes to a stop, pull your hands apart to keep it spinning.  Continue in this manner so the star spins in one direction and then the opposite direction.


Once you get the star spinning you will hear an interesting “zooming” sound.  The shape of the star and the high speed it spins causes the zoom sound.  If the project was made perfectly round there would be less of a zoom sound.


There is a knack to getting the star spinning, but once you master it, you will find it is easy and lots of fun.


This project will provide more practice on the scroll saw and the drill press.


Making the Star and the Handles


Start with a piece of 1/4” plywood at least 3-1/2” wide x 5” long.  Use a scissors to cut around the outside of the paper pattern set.


Spin-A-Roo Fig. 1.jpg 


Fig. 1: Cut out the set of patterns.


Attach the pattern sheet to your plywood with spray adhesive.  Smooth the pattern with your fingers.


Spin-A-Roo Fig. 2.jpg 


Fig. 2: Glue the pattern to your wood.


Mark the center of all holes with a scratch awl.


 Spin-A-Roo Fig. 3.jpg


Fig. 3: Mark the center of all holes with a scratch awl.


Mount a 3/8” brad point bit in the drill press and set the speed to 2500 – 3000 RPM.  Set the drill depth so only the tip of the brad point bit will go through the bottom of your plywood.  The photo shows the tip going about 1/16” into a piece of scrap wood placed on top of the drill press table.


Spin-A-Rood  Fig. 4.jpg


Fig. 4: Set the drill depth so the point of the brad point bit will just go through your wood.


With the depth stop set, drill all five 3/8” holes.


Spin-A-Rood  Fig. 5.jpg


Fig. 5: Drill the 3/8” holes.


After you have drilled the five 3/8” holes you will be able to see the small holes where the point of the brad point bit came through.  Turn your plywood over and finish drilling the holes through from the back side.


Spin-A-Rood  Fig. 6.jpg 


Fig. 6: Turn your wood over and finish drilling the 3/8” hole.




The reason for drilling from both sides is to prevent the 3/8” bit from splintering the wood as would happen if you were to drill all the way through in one step.


Mount a 7/64” twist bit in the drill press and drill the remaining holes in the star and in the handle pieces.  Because the 7/64” bit is so small, you can drill all the way through your plywood in one step, but drill slowly, especially as the bit breaks through the bottom side to avoid splintering.


Spin-A-Rood  Fig. 7.jpg


Fig. 7: Drill the 7/64” holes through.


Saw out the star and the two handles on a scroll saw.


Spin-A-Roo  Fig. 8.jpg 


Fig. 8: Saw out the patterns on a scroll saw.


Sand all edges smooth.


Spin-A-Roo  Fig. 9.jpg 


Fig. 9: Sand all parts.


Finish the project.  You can paint it or use a clear wood finish.


Spin-A-Roo  Fig. 10.jpg


Fig. 10: Apply wood finish.


Cut a piece of string 36” long.  Thread the string as shown in the photo.  A large needle makes it easier to get the string through the holes.


Spin-A-Roo Fig. 11.jpg


Fig. 11: String the parts.


Tie the ends of the string in a knot.  Practice with the project until you have mastered how it works.


Spin-A-Roo Fig. 12.jpg


Fig. 12: Practice until you get the knack.


Spin A Roo Fig. 13.jpg 


Fig. 13: Parker just mastered the technique.  


Spin A Roo Fig. 14.jpg 


Fig. 14: Isabelle and Stef demonstrate their Spin-A-Roos.    


Spin-A-Roo Pattern.jpg

Reduce or enlarge to 3-1/2" x 5".



Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties



Using the Scroll Saw – Part 3

by Paul Meisel on ‎01-23-2012 10:48 AM

Blog 40


Using the Scroll Saw – Part 3


Sawing straight and Curved Cuts on the Scroll Saw


This exercise is designed to give students experience and practice using the scroll saw.


1.) Begin with a 10 inch length of “1 x 4” pine which will actually measure 3/4” x 3-1/2” x 10”, and a practice cutting pattern.  Use a scissors to cut the paper cutting pattern to size.


If more that one child will be doing this it is important that they each print their name on each of the 6 boxes on the pattern sheet.  These pieces will be sawed apart when doing this practice exercise.




2.) Lay the pattern UPSIDE DOWN in the cardboard spray-glue box.  Hold the can of spray adhesive with the nozzle pointing toward the pattern and about 10 inches away.  Spray an even coat of adhesive on the back of the pattern.




3.) Make sure your wood is dust-free by wiping it with a rag.  Adhere the pattern to the wood by pressing down with your fingers.


4.) Use a scratch awl to mark the location of the 1/4” hole in Section A.




5.) Drill the 1/4” hole all the way through using the drill press.




6.) If your scroll saw has a hold-down foot, place your work under it and adjust the foot so it touches the top of your wood.




7.) Turn on the saw and adjust the speed.  For most saws that use pin-end blades, adjust it to the fastest speed.


8.) Stand in front of the saw with your fingers on each side of the wood.  Relax and take a deep breath.  Turn the saw on and start sawing on the straight line.  Don’t try and cut too fast, but don’t saw too slow either.  You will soon get “a feel” for how fast to feed the wood into the blade.  TIP: Always keep your fingers to the sides of the blade, never directly in line with the front of the blade.


The first line you should saw is the straight line.  Try and saw down the center of this line.




If you start to wander off the line, slow down and gently turn the wood with your fingertips to guide the blade back to the line.  Do not cut the oval piece out at this time.


9.) When you finish cutting Line #1, set the piece you just cut off aside and begin cutting the line marked #2.




10.) Continue to cut each section A-F.  On section F, cut the lines and practice making the very sharp turn at the end of each line.  When you reach this sharp “turn around,” stop pushing the wood, relax, and rotate your wood around the blade.  The pin-end blades are larger that the pin-less blades, but can be made to cut very sharp turns, but it takes practice.


Making Inside Cuts


1.) Now pick up section A, the first piece you cut off.  You will be cutting out the oval shape.  This is called an inside cut.  To make this cut, unplug the scroll saw, loosen the blade tension adjustment knob, remove the blade and slip it through the 1/4” hole.  Re-install the blade and tighten the blade tension adjustment knob to readjust the blade tension.  Be sure the teeth are facing you and pointing down.




2.) Saw out the oval cutout.




3.) Remove the blade from your wood by reversing the steps above.  Reinstall the blade so the saw is ready for the next person to use.



Enlarge or reduce image to fit 3-1/2"W x 10"H.  Cut out image and glue to 3/4" pine. 


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties







Using the Scroll Saw – Part 2

by Paul Meisel on ‎12-27-2011 03:03 PM

Blog #39


Using the Scroll Saw – Part 2


Selecting the Correct Blade


There are many different types of scroll saw blades.  The most important difference is in the number of teeth there are per inch of blade.  This is abbreviated tpi (teeth per inch).


To get started, you teacher will select a type of blade suitable for the saw you are using.  The chart below is helpful as a general guide for selecting the number of teeth per inch.  Notice that the thinner the material to be cut the more teeth per inch the blade should have.


This chart is only a guide.  For example if you are cutting 3/4” lumber, you could use from 8 to 12 tpi.  The blade with fewer teeth (8 tpi) will generally cut the wood faster, but since the teeth are larger will not cut as smooth as a blade with more teeth per inch.


A fine blade (one with many teeth per inch) will give you a smooth cut but will cut more slowly.  Fine blades also tend to break more often.


Select a Blade Based on the Thickness of Wood you are Cutting


Material Thickness                                            Number of Teeth per Inch (tpi)

Less than 1/8”                                                  28 – 48 tpi

1/8” – 1/2”                                                       18 – 25 tpi

1/2” – 1”                                                          12 – 14 tpi

3/4” – 1-1/2”                                                    8 – 12 tpi

1” – 2”                                                             7 – 9 tpi


Although the chart above is a good general guide, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider.  If you are cutting very hard wood such as oak, a blade with larger (fewer teeth per inch)  


Practical: Installing the Blade


A. Unplug the scroll saw from the wall receptacle.

Fig 2.jpg


B. Loosen the Lock Knob (if your saw is so equipped) that holds the clear plastic Blade Guard and swing it up and out of the way.



C. Swing the Guards to expose the Upper and Lower Blade Holders.  Remove the Throat Plate.



D. Loosen the Blade Tension Adjustment Knob.



E. Push down on the Upper Arm to release tension and remove the old blade.  Position the new blade in the Lower Blade Holder.  Be sure the blade teeth point down and toward you.



F. If using a pin end blade, push down on the Upper Arm and hook the upper end of the blade into the Upper Blade Holder.  Important: Make sure the pins in each end of the blade are seated in the grooves in the Blade Holders.  For scroll saws using plain end blades, refer to the owners manual for proper blade installation.



G. Tighten the Blade Tension Adjustment Knob to increase the tension on the blade.  Pluck the blade like a guitar string.  The blade will make a musical sound when plucked.  A dull sound means there isn’t enough tension on the blade.  Likewise, the blade shouldn’t be too tight far either.



Determining the correct blade tension takes some practice.  If the blade is too loose it will drift off the cutting line when you are cutting.  A blade that is too loose can also cause the scroll saw to vibrate and make excessive noise.  If the blade is too tight is could break.  If you adjust the tension correctly the saw will cut much better and the blade will last much longer.


H. Replace the Throat Plate and swing the Upper and Lower Blade Guards back in place.



K. Re-plug the scroll saw in to the wall receptacle.

Fig 10.jpg


Adjusting the Speed


The scroll saw pictured has a variable speed switch.  For each of the practice exercises below turn the switch to the fastest speed.  If you are using a scroll saw other that that pictured, refer to the owner’s manual.




There are thousands of projects you can make using the scroll saw.  You can find patterns in books, plan catalogs and on the internet.  The patterns you will be using in these practice exercises were chosen to provide experience in making straight, curved and inside cuts.  Before beginning, study the safety rules below. 


Safety Rules


The scroll saw is one of the safest power tools to use, but this does not mean that accident can’t happen.  As with any power tool, use common sense when you operate the scroll saw.  Here are some general safety rules to know and follow.


            1. Always wear safety goggles.

            2. Keep your fingers to the side of the blade, never in front (that is, never in the path of the blade).

            3. Dress appropriately: Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry.  Tie long hair back behind your head.

            4. Unplug the scroll saw when changing blades or making adjustments.

            5. Do not talk to others while using the saw.  Do not distract others while they are using the saw.

            6. Always turn the power switch off when you leave the machine.

            7. Do not turn on or off the power switch for someone else.

            8. Keep the floor clear of scraps of wood.

            9. If the machine doesn’t sound right, turn it off immediately and make the necessary adjustments.

            10. Slow down the feed rate (how fast you push the wood into the blade) before you finish a cut.

            11. Slack off the blade tension at the end of the day or when the machine

            will not be used for an extended period of time.


Next Blog – Sawing with the scroll saw.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties








Using the Scroll Saw

by Paul Meisel on ‎12-02-2011 07:15 AM

Blog #38


Using the Scroll Saw




In my previous blogs I have described ways to teach woodworking to children as young as 8 or 9 years old using only a minimum number of hand tools and a drill press.  Most of my blogs are presented as actual instructional units.  Each unit builds upon the previous unit thereby taking children through the learning process step by step.  By using the same tools over and over students begin to feel comfortable with them and really understand the basics.  The whole purpose is to help teachers, parents and grandparents expose kids to the hobby of woodworking in a logical and safe way.


Now it’s time to introduce the scroll saw.  You can teach some children as young as 8 years old to use this versatile tool.  This unit has been tested with my students at Flagship Academy.   It takes students through a step by step learning process beginning with confronting the saw, learning its parts, learning hoe to set up the saw and how to practice with it.


Information about scroll saws:


The scroll saw is designed for cutting curves and intricate shapes in wood, plastic and soft metal.  It has a thin blade which moves up and down.  To use the scroll saw place your wood on the table of the saw and push it into the blade, turning the wood as needed to follow the cutting line.


Scroll saw blades are installed with the teeth pointing down.  This is because the scroll saw cuts on the down stroke.  Blades are available with very fine teeth for cutting thin material and soft metals and larger teeth for cutting thicker material.


Besides its ability to cut outside curves, the scroll saw can be used to cut inside openings.  An example of an inside opening would be the center of the letter “O.”  To cut an inside opening, drill a hole somewhere inside the opening, remove the blade from the blade holder, thread the blade through the hole and retighten the blade. 


 Scroll Saw Blades


All scroll saws use either a plain end blade or a pin end blade. (fig. 1)  The pin end blades are usually larger in size that the plain end so do not cut sharp curves as easily. 


fig 1small.jpg 

Fig. 1: Top – Plain end scroll saw blade.  Bottom – pin end scroll saw blade.


Learning the Parts of the Scroll Saw


With the scroll saw unplugged, use your finger to touch each of the parts shown below, then write in the name of each part in the columns A – N below.




Photo 1bsmall.jpg 


Photo 2small.jpg



Photo 2bsmall.jpg


Parts of the Scroll Saw


To become familiar with the scroll saw you should know the names of the most important parts.  Study the parts of the scroll saw, then fill in the name of each part in column A – N.


A._______________________          H._______________________


B._______________________           I.________________________


C._______________________          J.________________________


D._______________________          K._______________________


E._______________________           L._______________________


F._______________________           M._______________________


G._______________________          N._______________________


Practical: Confronting the Scroll Saw and Learning its Parts


This drill is done with the student and a coach.  The coach can be another student or an adult.  It is done exactly as follows:


Position – The student and coach stand in front of the scroll saw.  Is is best if no other students are in the near vicinity.


Materials – The coach has a copy of this page.


Commands – The coach starts the drill by saying “Start of drill.”  The coach selects one of the parts of the scroll saw and says: “Touch the _____.”  The student touches that part.  If the student touches the correct part the coach acknowledges by saying: “Thank you.” “good,” “excellent,” “alright,” etc. (It’s nice to vary your acknowledgements.)


If the student does not know the part or touches the wrong part the coach says “flunk” and shows the student the correct part as identified by the pictures.  The coach them repeats the same command: “Touch the _____” and acknowledges the student as above.  The coach then asks the student to touch another part


My next blog will cover blade selection, installing a blade and adjusting speed.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties







Painted Shields

by Paul Meisel on ‎11-14-2011 05:17 PM

Blog 37


Painted Shields


When you teach woodworking you’re bound to have people ask you to make them something.  A couple of weeks ago my daughter-in-law did just that.  She was planning the kids’ party for my grandson Charlie’s 6th birthday. 


Charlie loves castles, knights, and anything medieval.  That includes the shield and sword of the medieval knights.  “Could you cut out 11 shields for the kids to paint?  I’ll glue cloth handles on the back.”  “Well, yes” I said.  “I will cut out plywood shields for the kids, but no, I can’t go with cloth handles glued to the back.  Let me figure out a better handle.   When do you need them by?”


I was told I had almost 2 weeks until the party, so that was a nice surprise.  I decided to use 1/8” plywood because it is light weight and strong enough for the purpose.  But what about the handles?  I thought about that for a day or two and remembered that I had some old drawer pulls in the garage.  I managed to find them and I did have enough for all the shields.  All I would need to do would be to drill holes in the shields and find some shorter screws to attach the handles.



 Figure 1: Drawer handles made sturdy handles.


Organize things as best you can.


The day of the party we covered the table with paper, set up paper plates to use for painting (we showed the kids how to squeeze paint from the bottles to the paper plates).  We had water for rinsing the brushes and paper towels to use to partially dry the brushes after rinsing.  We alerted the parents that the kids would be painting and most brought “paint shirts.”



Figure 2: Organize the work place.


Tell the kids what they will be doing and how to do it.


It’s hard to get the entire group to listen when you are dealing with 5 and 6 year olds, but do your best to give them the basics.  “Try not to get your sleeve in the paint.  Two colors are usually enough.  Rinse your brush if you change to a different paint.  Any questions?”


My wife and I as well as my son and his wife and the father of one of the other children all monitored the table.  We changed the rinse water periodically but otherwise didn’t have to do much but watch the activity.



Figure 3:  The kids loved the project and each one worked to complete their own shield.



Figure 4: My grandson, Charlie.  


The objective: Finish the exercise without incident.


We weren’t teaching a class in decorative painting.  We thought it would be a major victory if we got all the kids to finish painting without spoiling expensive clothing or spilling a glass of rinse water. 


With that goal in mind, I felt we were successful.  The paint tended to be laid on rather thick, but there were no catastrophes.



Figure 5: The paint tended to be laid on heavy.


Jewels – the crowing touch.


We had plenty of large jewels on hand to glue on to the shields for further decoration.



Figure 6: Where to place the jewels?


Charlie’s 3 year old brother participated too.


Leo, Charlie’s brother, fit right in with the 5 and 6 year olds.  He used perhaps the heaviest coat of paint.



Figure 7: The 3 year old participated in the project.  Besides lots of paint he wanted a few jewels.


We finished without a hitch.


We were relieved that there were no major problems with this exercise.  The kids all loved painting the shields.  The Delta paint dried quickly, but the shields with heavy paint weren’t quite dry when the parents picked up their kids so we cautioned them to handle carefully.  Figure 8 and 9 show some of the finished shields.


Fig8 .jpg 

Figure 8: Three of the finished shields.



Figure 9: A multi-colored shield with jewels.


Final thoughts.


We provided each child with a soft foam sword to go with the shield.  We passed out the swords about 10 minutes before the party was officially over.  This resulted in a very large and enthusiastic sword fight battle.  Our instructions were that the fighting was to be “sword to sword,” never strike another person.  The kids loved the party and we deemed it a success.  I will say that we were glad to see the parents pick up their children.  As grandparents we aren’t used to so much motion and so much noise!


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WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties









Some Ideas for Toys

by Paul Meisel on ‎10-18-2011 06:43 AM


#36 Blog

Some Ideas for Toys


I had a nice surprise the other day - a package arrived in the mail.  When I opened it I saw it contained some toy trucks and a five piece train.  I carefully read the cover letter.  It was from Stuart Ward of California.  Stuart mentioned in his cover letter that he had modified some of my Molding Car plans.  (See my Blogs #29 & 30 – Molding Cars Part 1 & Part 2).  The reason these cars are called “Molding Cars” is because they were originally designed to be built from standard size moldings that can be found at most any lumberyard or home center.


Teaching woodworking to young people has its share of challenges.  For some people the biggest challenge is having enough tools, especially power tools.  Without a table saw and a router you are limited as to what you can make.  It was for that reason I wanted to design some projects that my students could make using only a miter box and drill press.  By cutting off just the right length of various shapes of molding, cars and trucks could be made with interesting shapes that were pleasing to the eye.  Plus they were fun for my students.    


Stuart said in his cover letter that he did what I hope lots of others will do.  He designed projects based (roughly) on the original cars and trucks I introduced, but with his own style and creativity.  I like it when people create new designs.  And I certainly enjoyed seeing the projects Stuart sent.      


Stuart added that he has sold his trucks very successfully in craft boutiques in Orange, California.  He said that the molding trucks below were the best sellers! (Fig. 1)




Fig. 1: Trucks made from standard size moldings (plus a wood turning).


Also in Stuart’s package was a toy train (Fig. 2).  Since I like working with children, I naturally had to size his train project up to determine if my students could manage it.  As can be seen in Figure 3, his cars are designed with two pieces of 3/4” pine face-glued together.  By offsetting these pieces, a hole can be drilled in the upper piece and a wood dowel “peg” added for a hitch pin (Fig. 3).  Each car requires two boards that are 2-1/4” wide by 6-1/2” long.  They are glued together with a 1-1/2” overlap on each end making the total length of each car 8”.  The dowel used for the connecting pin is 3/8” diameter and the receiving hole in the lower board is drilled 7/16” diameter.  The wheels are attached to 3-1/2” lengths of 1/4” wood dowel which go through what appears to be a 5/16” hole drilled through the bottom board. 


This is a simple enough project for children to do.  They will need to design the remaining parts that make up the engine and car bodies.  Some, but not all, of these parts can be made from standard wood molding profiles which can be cut using a miter box.  You may have to help students with some of the odd shaped parts.  The barrels are attached with wood dowels.  Drill three 1/4” holes in the base assembly and glue a short length of dowel into each hole.  Drill a hole just slightly larger than the dowel in the bottom of the barrel so it can be slipped on and off – good fun!  The wheels and cargo are available from mail order sources such as Meisel Hardware Specialties or Cherry Tree.


Since this train in not my design I can not offer drawings for it.  But I have included it so you can have your children make something similar.  It illustrates another project you can have your children work on.  You can encourage creative design when it comes to how the cars are made – a good thing! 




Fig. 2: A simple train with a clever system to connect the cars.




Fig. 3: The cars connect using a 3/8” diameter wood dowel.



Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties






Making a Grass Head – Part 3

by Paul Meisel on ‎10-03-2011 08:28 AM

Blog 35


Making a Grass Head – Part 3


Final Assembly and Care of the Project


1.) Write your name on the bottom of the yogurt cup.



Photo Caption Fig. 25: Write your name on the bottom of the yogurt cup.


2.) Fill the yogurt container about 3/4 full of water.


3.) Slip the feet and arm pieces over the container.


4.) Moisten the head with water, then slip it into the yogurt container.


The project is now finished.  Put it in a sunny area and wait for the grass to begin to grow.



Photo Caption Fig. 26: Completed grass head.


After one week the grass should start to work its way through the stocking.



Photo Caption Fig. 27: After one week.


After two weeks you should see more and more grass.



Photo Caption Fig. 28: After two weeks.




Even though each grass head starts out pretty much the same, you can expect to see a great deal of change when the eyes are glued in place, the smile has been drawn on the project’s head and especially when the painting of the body has been completed.


Each project will take on its own personality – each project will be completely different from any of the others.


All of the kids I worked with loved painting their projects.  Kids can be creative when given the chance, and, as you can see from the photographs, these projects certainly allow the creative juices to flow!


Anytime kids use paint, there is the potential for accidents, especially for clothes to get ruined.  Cover the table with newspaper and be sure everyone wears an apron or a old shirt.  One of my students put his shirt on backwards for the best protection.



Photo Caption Fig. 29: Wear protective clothing when painting.


Dipping a finger in paint and flicking it onto the project creates an interesting “splatter” pattern.



Photo Caption Fig. 30: Spattering paint with a flick of the finger.


Once painted, each grass head will take on its own personality.



Photo Caption Fig. 31: No two projects will ever be exactly alike.



Caring for your Grass Head


Your grass head will require that you keep it watered.  If you let the water in the yogurt container dry up, the grass will die.


It is best to check the water level about once a week.  Carefully lift off the head and refill the yogurt container so it is about 3/4 full of water.


Put some thought into where you place your grass head.  Grass grows well in moderate sun.  Perhaps choose a window sill on the south side of your house.  Place it where it won’t get too hot or too cold.



Watch the hair grow


It’s fun to watch and wait for the grass to grow.   Figures 32 – 35 show the variety of paint schemes and the progress of the growth of the “hair.”    



Photo Caption Fig. 32: Growth of hair after about 1 week.



Photo Caption Fig. 33: Growth of hair after about 2 weeks.



Photo Caption Fig. 34: Hair continues to get longer.



Photo Caption Fig. 35: Time for a hair cut!


Paul Meisel -
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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties





Making a Grass Head – Part 2

by Paul Meisel ‎08-02-2011 02:59 PM - edited ‎08-02-2011 03:06 PM

Blog 34


Making a Grass Head – Part 2


Painting the project


1.) How you paint your grass head is up to you.  Here is how we painted the project pictured here:  Begin by drawing a pencil line to show where to paint the hand and sleeves.  Paint the sleeves a solid color.  Paint the shoe piece white.  Paint the top surface and the inside and outside edges a bright color.  It is not necessary to paint the bottom of the wood pieces.



Photo Caption Fig. 12: Paint the top.



Photo Caption Fig. 13: Paint the inside and outside edges.


2.) Set the painted pieces on triangle drying sticks until the paint dries.



Photo Caption Fig. 14: Set the painted pieces on triangle drying sticks to dry.


Assembling the Grass Head


1.) Use a permanent ink felt pen to write your name on your stocking.



Photo Caption Fig. 15: Print your name on the top of the stocking.


2.) A good way to hold the stocking in position is to pull it over a can.  The stocking will form a small bowl which you will be filling with grass seed and potting soil.  Adjust the stocking so the bowl is about 2” deep.



Photo Caption Fig. 16: Stretch the stocking over the can to form a 2” deep “bowl.”


3.) Place a rounded teaspoon of grass seed in the bowl.



Photo Caption Fig. 17: Place a rounded teaspoon of grass seed in the bowl.


4.) Spoon one cup of potting soil into a measuring cup.



Photo Caption Fig. 18: Spoon out one cup of potting soil.


5.) Push the stocking down a little further into the can and add the potting soil.



Photo Caption Fig. 19: Add the potting soil.


6.) Carefully lift the stocking from the can and tie a knot as close as possible to the ball formed by the potting soil.  Try not to disturb the seed.



Photo Caption Fig. 20: Tie a knot close to the ball.


7.) Pull the knot tight.



Photo Caption Fig. 21: Tighten the knot.


8.) Use a permanent ink felt pen to draw a smile on the stocking head.



Photo Caption Fig. 22: Draw a smile on the stocking.


9.) Glue plastic jiggle eyes in place using silicon glue. Important – Place the head in a safe place and allow the silicon glue to dry overnight.



Photo Caption Fig. 23: Glue on two eyes using silicon glue.


10. Use a permanent ink felt pen to draw shoelaces on the feet.



 Photo Caption Fig. 24: Draw on shoelaces.


Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties




Making a Grass Head – Part 1

by Paul Meisel ‎06-27-2011 02:14 PM - edited ‎06-29-2011 07:22 AM

Blog 33


Making a Grass Head – Part 1




Adults like this project just as much as the children.  You will be cutting the arms and legs from thin plywood.  Either a coping saw or a scroll saw can be used to cut these parts.  Use a plastic yogurt container for the body.  The head is made from a nylon stocking that is filled with grass seed and potting soil. 


You will need to keep the yogurt container partly filled with water at all times.  The water will moisten the nylon stocking and wick its way up and keep the soil damp.  After about a week the grass will start to grow.  The blades of grass will grow through the stocking and create what looks like green hair. 


How your grass head will look after the hair grows out will be a surprise!  Each grass head will look a little different.  Each will have its own personality!


After you have finished making your grass head project, you must care for it as you would care for any living thing.  The main thing is to keep water in the yogurt container.  If you forget to check it every 3 or 4 days the water will dry up and the grass will die.


Know your Words


Read the following definitions and make up your own sentences using the word until you know its meaning.


Yogurt – [Turkish – yoghurt] A thick liquid food made from milk which has been fermented with bacteria.  It is believed to have a beneficial effect on the intestines.  Yogurt blended with fruit makes a drink called a smoothie.


Wick – [Old English weoce from Indo European weg – to weave]  Cord of twisted thread as in an oil lamp or candle.  When the wick is lit it draws oil or melted wax up to be burned.  Some athletic stockings can act as a wick to draw sweat away from the feet.  


Practical – Making a Grass Head


1.) Begin with a pattern for the arm and leg and a piece of 3mm poplar plywood.  With a scissors, cut the rectangle shape around the patterns.




Photo Caption Fig. 1: Cut the patterns.


2.) Prepare the surface of the plywood by wiping it with a rag to remove dust.


3.) Place the pattern sheet (not the plywood) face down on newspaper in the cardboard “spray glue box.”  Hold a can of temporary-bond spray adhesive with the nozzle pointing toward the pattern and about 14” away.  Spray the adhesive on the back of the pattern until it has been covered completely, but do not spray so much adhesive that the pattern gets “wet.”  Let the paper dry a few minutes if you have over-applied the adhesive.




Photo Caption Fig. 2: Apply spray adhesive to the back of the pattern.


4.) Adhere the pattern to your wood by gently pressing it down with the tips of your fingers.




Photo Caption Fig. 3: Press the paper pattern onto your wood.


5.) Use a scratch awl to mark the 4 holes to be drilled.




Photo Caption Fig. 4: Mark the four holes to be drilled.


6.) Prepare the drill press as follows:

            A. Install a 7/32” twist bit in the drill press.

            B. Set the spindle speed between 2000 and 2500 RPM.

            C. Adjust the table height for a through hole.


Drill the four 7/32” holes through your plywood.  The purpose for drilling a hole on the inside of each piece is so you can slip the coping saw blade through.  The purpose for the remaining holes is to prevent having to cut the tight corner.




Photo Caption Fig. 5: Drill the four 7/32” holes through.


7.) To cut out the inside and outside of the arm and body piece, you will be using a coping saw with a fine tooth blade (24 tpi).  To begin, loosen the coping saw blade, slip one end through the hole, and replace the blade in the frame.  Be sure the teeth are pointing toward the handle and that the paper pattern is facing up (away from the handle).




Photo Caption for Fig. 6:  Slip the blade through one of the drilled holes to cut out the inside hole.


8.) Using a “V” board to support your work, begin by sawing the center hole in one of the pieces.




Photo Caption Fig. 7:  Start by sawing out the centers of both pieces.


9.) Cut the center hole from the second piece, then cut around the outside of both pieces.




Photo Caption Fig. 8: Saw around the outside of both pieces.


10.) Peel off the paper pattern sheet and discard.  Using coarse sandpaper, sand the inside (Fig. 9) and the outside (Fig. 10) of each piece.




Photo Caption Fig. 9: Sand the inside edge.




Photo Caption Fig. 10: Sand the outside edge.


11.) Write your name on the bottom of each piece. (Fig. 11)




Photo Caption Fig. 11: Print your name on the bottom of each piece.  




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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
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Blog 32


Using the Coping Saw – Part 3


Making a T Puzzle:


1. Begin by cutting the pattern out.




Fig. 14: Cut the pattern from the sheet.


2. Spray the back of your pattern. 




Fig. 15: Use spray adhesive in a protected area.


3. Press the pattern to your wood by pressing down with your fingers.




Fig. 16: Use your fingers to press the pattern to your wood.


4. If your strip of wood is too long to easily work with, cut off a piece just large enough to make your project.




Fig. 17: Use the miter box to saw off just enough wood to make the project.


5. Clamp a V-block to the bench top or in the vise and begin cutting.  Follow the cut lines as carefully as you can.  Remember to keep the blade perpendicular to the wood while you cut.  If the saw blade waders off the line, stop sawing, back up to where you were sawing on the line, and restart the cut from there.


6. It is best to first saw out the T shape (Fig. 18), then saw the puzzle into its four parts.  (Fig. 19)  Since it is hard to start a cut on a corner, try doing so by holding the saw as shown in figure 19.  Remember to hold the saw perpendicular to the wood once you have the saw cut started.




Fig. 18: Saw around the perimeter of the pattern first.




Fig. 19: Tilting the saw makes it easier to start a corner cut.


7. After you have finished sawing out the 4 parts of the puzzle, write your name on the back of each piece.




Fig. 20: Write your name on the back of each of the puzzle pieces.


8. Peel off the paper pattern.




Fig. 21: Peel off the paper pattern after writing your name on each piece.


9. Sand the edges of each piece smooth.  Sand out the rough saw cut marks, but don’t over sand the pieces.  Too much sanding will make the pieces too small and they won’t fit together well.




Fig. 22: Hold the sandpaper flat on the table and sand the edge of each piece.




Fig. 23: Sand the inside corner by holding the piece over the edge of the table.


10, Assemble the project to be sure you know how it goes together.  Then challenge your friends to see if they can solve the puzzle.




 Fig. 24: Practice putting the puzzle together until you can do it quickly.


Making a Belt Hook


1. Like the T puzzle, this project is cut from 1/4” softwood.  Glue the pattern to your wood making sure the direction of grain noted on the pattern is the same as the grain direction on your wood.


2. Saw out the pattern, sand the edges smooth and peel off the pattern.


3. Write your name on the bottom edge.


4. Demonstrate how you can hold the tip of the belt hook on the end of your finger.




Fig. 25: The belt hook seems to defy gravity.


Patterns for the T Puzzle and the Belt Hook




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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties






Using the Coping Saw – Part 2

by Paul Meisel on ‎06-07-2011 08:04 AM

Blog 31


Using the Coping Saw – Part 2


5. Making an Inside Cut:


Making an inside cut simply means to cut out a shape that isn’t sawn from the edge.  An example would be cutting the circle in figure 10.  As you can see, a hole must first be drilled in the area to be cut out.  The exact location of the hole isn’t too important (as long as it’s inside the area to be cut out).  However, the diameter of the hole must be large enough so you can easily slide the blade through it.  A 1/4” diameter hole works well.  After you have drilled the hole, you must loosen the blade, slip one end out from the blade holder and then through the hole.  Then re-attach the blade into the frame.




Fig. 10: Remove blade, slip it through the hole, and re-install the blade.




Fig. 11: Sawing an inside hole with the blade angled in the frame.


Remember that the direction you face the saw teeth is important.  In Figure 10 the saw teeth point away from the handle and the wood will be clamped vertically in a vise.  In Figure 11 the teeth point toward the handle so the wood can be cut using a V-block (or clamped horizontally in a vise).




As you saw along the line, turning the saw as needed, the frame of the saw will eventually hit the side of the table, preventing you from continuing the cut.  If you are using a V-block this is no problem.  Simply reposition your work and continue sawing.  However, if the work is held stationary in a vise, as in figure 11, you will need to rotate the blade in the frame.


To rotate the blade, loosen the handle and rotate both of the pins that hold the blade.  When you have the blade where you want it, retighten the handle.  If you look at figure 11 closely you can see that the pins on the saw are pointing ninety degrees from the frame.


Making Projects using a Coping Saw


You have learned what a coping saw is, how to change the coping saw blade, and you have made practiced cuts with the saw.  Now it’s time to make some projects using this handy saw.


A T Puzzle is a simple project which is a lot of fun to show your friends.  This simple puzzle has only 4 parts so it should be simple to solve, right?  Well you will be surprised when you give the pieces to your friends and ask them to make a “T” shape from the 4 simple pieces!  It’s much more difficult than you might imagine!






Fig. 12: The T puzzle is a challenge to solve.


A Belt Hook is another simple project that you can show your friends.  This hook seems to have magic qualities because when you put a belt in the hook, you can hold the hook by the tip of your finger without it falling.




Fig. 13: The belt hook is almost like magic.  It seems to defy gravity.


For either project, start with a piece of 1/4” thick softwood such as basswood.  You will also need a pattern, a scissors and temporary bond spray adhesive.


Note: Email me at if you need a source for 1/4” thick basswood for the upcoming projects. 


Before starting on the project, read and study the information below on attaching patterns with spray adhesive.


Attaching Patterns Using Temporary-Bond Spray Adhesive


The word temporary comes from the Latin word tempus which means time.  Temporary means for a limited time; not permanent.  The word adhesive comes from the Latin word adhaerere which means to stick.  The word adhesive is just another word for glue.   

A temporary-bond adhesive is used when you want to attach, or bond, a paper pattern to your wood and then remove the pattern later on.


Read the following information on using temporary-bond spray adhesive:


  A. Wear safety glasses whenever using spray adhesive.

  B. Wipe away any sawdust from the wood piece to which you will be attaching the pattern.

  C. Spray adhesive is messy; work only with newspaper under your pattern.  Spray the adhesive in a cardboard box to contain the spray.

  D. Look for the arrow on top of the nozzle to see the direction of spray.

  E. Lay the pattern UPSIDE DOWN on the newspaper.

  F. Hold the can of spray adhesive with the nozzle pointing toward the pattern and about 14” from the pattern.  Spray a light fog of adhesive on the back of the pattern.  Do not spray so much adhesive that the pattern gets “wet.”  Let the paper dry for a few minutes if you have over-applied the adhesive.


How far away is 14”?  Hold a ruler or measuring tape so one end rests on your pattern.  Hold the nozzle of the can of spray adhesive 14” from the pattern.  NOTE: There may be some sticky glue on the nozzle - be careful not to get it on your ruler.   Notice how far the nozzle is from your pattern when it is 14” away.  Whenever you use spray adhesive try to hold the nozzle about this distance from your work.  This is an approximate distance.


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Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties









Using the Coping Saw – Part 1

by Paul Meisel on ‎05-06-2011 02:12 PM

Blog 30


Using the Coping Saw – Part 1


Although my students prefer to use the scroll saw over the coping saw, the truth is that most students won’t have access to a scroll saw after they leave my class.  By learning how to use a coping saw it is my hope that they might continue making projects using this inexpensive little saw.


In part 1 & 2 of this blog I present the actual instructional unit I use with my students.  It includes definitions of terms, general information, how to change a blade and, of course, projects children can make.  The projects in this blog use 1/4” basswood as it is easier for beginners than, for example, 3/4” pine would be.


Have your children (or students) read and study the following information in the same manner they would if using a textbook.


1. Read the following definitions and use the words in sentences until you know their meanings:


Coping Saw – A saw with a narrow blade in a U-shaped frame used for cutting curves.




Fig. 1: Coping Saw


V-Block – A piece of wood with a V-shaped notch on one end.  It is clamped to the work table with the V-notch overhanging the side of the table.  It is used to support the wod being sawed with the coping saw.




Fig. 2: V-Block


C-Clamp – A clamp in the shape of the letter C.  It is used to clamp wood and other material.




Fig. 3: C-Clamp


Perpendicular – Straight up or down or at a 90 degree angle to a line or surface.


2. Read the following information about the coping saw:


The coping saw has a U-shaped frame and a thin blade.  Because of the thin blade, coping saws are often used for cutting curves.


Coping saw blades are made with fine teeth (up to 32 teeth per inch for cutting very thin wood or soft metal) to very coarse teeth (as few as 10 teeth per inch for cutting wood 1 inch or thicker).  A good blade for general cutting would be a blade with 12 to 15 teeth per inch.


There are two main ways to use a coping saw:


A. Sawing with a V-block:


The purpose of the V-block is to support your wood while you cut. (Fig. 4)  To use the V-block, position your wood so the line you are sawing is over the V-shaped cutout.  (You will need to keep repositioning the wood as you cut.)  Hold the wood with one hand and use your other hand to hold the saw.  Start the cut by pulling down on the saw handle.  Important – the teeth must point downward (toward the handle) because you will be sawing on the down stroke.  Apply a small amount of forward pressure as you saw, but do not push forward too hard or the blade will stick.  Try to keep the blade perpendicular to the work piece.  Make slow, even strokes - around one stroke per second.




Fig, 4: The saw teeth point down toward the handle when using a V-block to support your wood.


B. Sawing with the wood held in a vise:


A vise will hold your work securely so you can hold the handle of the coping saw with both hands.  Position your wood so the line you will be sawing is above the vise.  You will need to keep repositioning the wood as you cut.  When using the coping saw with the wood held in the vise, the saw teeth should point forward (away from the handle) because you will be cutting as you push the saw away from you.




Fig. 5: The saw teeth point away from the handle when using a vise to support your wood.


Read the definitions and make up sentences using the words.  Locate each of the parts of the saw on the diagram.




Fig. 6: The parts of the coping saw.


Frame – A U-shaped metal framework that holds the saw blade and handle.


Handle – The part of the coping saw held in the hand.  It is used to push or pull the saw while you are sawing.


Blade – The saw blade itself.  Coping saw blades can be put into the frame with the teeth pointing toward the handle or away from the handle.  Coping saw blades are available with different numbers of teeth per inch.


Blade Holder – Metal holders on each end of the frame which hold the blade.


Pins – Steel pins attached to the blade holders at each end of the frame.  The pin nearest the handle is held with one hand while you loosen or tighten the handle with your other hand.


Clockwise – Turning in the same direction as the hands of a clock.


Counterclockwise – Turning in the opposite direction as the hands of a clock.


3. Changing the blade of a coping saw:


Read the steps for changing the blade, then demonstrate how to remove the blade from the coping saw and re-install it with the teeth pointing in the opposite direction.


Steps to changing the blade on the coping saw.


A. Hold the pin which is nearest to the handle tight to the frame so it won’t turn while you turn the handle counterclockwise to remove the tension from the blade.




Fig. 7: Hold the pin against the frame to keep it from turning as you turn the handle.


B. Place the frame of the saw against the workbench and push on the handle to flex the frame enough to slip the blade out from the blade holders.




Fig. 8: Push the handle until the frame springs together enough to release the blade.


C. You can now replace the blade with a new blade or just reverse the blade as needed.


D. To retighten the blade, hold the pin against the frame and turn the handle clockwise to tighten it.


4. Making Practice Cuts with a Coping Saw:


Clamp the V-block to the worktable making sure the end with the V shaped notch hangs over the edge of the table.  Be sure the saw teeth are facing toward the handle.  Position the wood to be cut on top of the V-block.  Hold the saw handle in one hand and pull down on the saw slowly to start the cut.  As you saw along the cut line, keep repositioning your work so the part you are sawing is supported by the V-block. 




Fig. 9: Hold the saw vertically with the wood supported by the V-block.


Ask your teacher for a practice piece of wood.  Draw some curved lines on one end of the board and begin practice cutting. 



Molding Cars – Part 2

by Paul Meisel ‎04-12-2011 07:34 AM - edited ‎04-12-2011 12:12 PM

Blog #30


Molding Cars – Part 2


Putting the Parts Together


The cove moldings that make up the cab have three holes which need to be drilled for the “running lights.”  The only exception is if you are making the roadster.  This car requires drilling a single hole in the back of the cove molding to hold the spare wheel.  Refer to the drawings for the size and locations of any holes.  With a ruler and a sharp lead pencil, measure the locations of these holes and mark them with a scratch awl.




Clamp the cove molding in a drill press vise and install a 5/32” twist bit in the chuck.  Set the drill press to drill a 3/16” deep hole.  If you go much deeper than this you could break through the other side!




The shank of the axle pegs must be shortened.  With a ruler and a sharp lead pencil, make a mark 3/16” from the underside of the head of the axle peg.  Cut the axle pegs to length with a fine blade saw.




Sand the ends of the axle pegs as necessary and glue them into the cove molding.








Check the drawing of the project you are making to see what other pieces you will need.  Measure and cut the pieces needed, sand and glue them in place.


Install the Wheels and Axles


The wheels are held on by the axle pegs.  The shank of the axle pegs are slightly larger that the 5/32” hole in which they will be installed.  Because the axle pegs fit so tight, it is seldom necessary to add glue.  IMPORTANT: If you pound the axle peg down too far the wheel won’t turn!  To make matters worse, because of the tight fit you probably won’t be able to correct the problem by pulling the axle peg back out.  There is a good way to avoid this problem.  The secret is to place a shim about 1/16” thick under one side of the wheel and pound the axle down until it just touches the shim.  The shim can be wood or cardboard.  Quit pounding the axle peg as soon as you see the wheel touches the shim.  Then remove the shim and re-use on the next wheel.








Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties