Jane and I were at Bingley Show today. We had a new piece of equipment – a blackboard (used by our children about 20 years ago) on a tripod easel ( three birch rods bound with a figure of eight lashing). We simply advertised the fact that we were doing pole lathe demos and that you could have a go. People have been willing to have a go before and got quite addicted. I like doing have-a-goes as it lets me off for a bit.
We nearly got one boy of about 15 years, who seemed to be itching to have a go, but thought he might make a fool of himself and after about 15 minutes left without having cut any wood.
Later four girls about 9 to 13 years old asked to have a go – even though they didn’t know what they could have a go at. I got them splitting logs safely first, I hold the axe, they hit it with a maul, looking for potential dangers when the log finally splits and axe and log parts move around a lot. Then they all had a go on the shave horse and draw knife. This gives Jane the Willies a bit as the blade is sharp and wide. I have a slab of wood on a necklace that hangs in the firing range of the knife and I watch them like a hawk at very close quarters. They all had a good time and then went off to see the lady doing carving to see about carving their names on the wood they’d worked on.
A bit puzzling the difference in attitude between the boy and the girls. I suppose there’s safety in numbers, and maybe he was at an awkward age, but what the heck, men used to be the providers; hunting, making tools and using them. In the UK I think we need to do more to get people more comfortable with using their hands again (and I don’t mean for jabbing at computer keys). Best place to start is with children.