Breadboard and Knife

Woodworking with children can be rewarding.

SHOP OWNER: Paul Mosteller
LOCATION: Springfield, VA

    Many of you have shared the joy of woodworking with a child or young person. Because of a recent personal experience, I highly encourage each of you to watch for those opportunities.
    Although my work schedule has kept me way too busy the last couple of years, I did get to have some fun making Christmas presents for our church’s choir director with their children's help. Known as Aunt Dawn and Uncle Paul, we're one of their Godparents.
    When I got the November 2003 Wood Magazine, which featured the slice-and-serve bread knife, their love of fresh bread immediately came to mind. All they'd need is a cutting board to go with it. Since the director has a doctorate in piano, a keyboard theme seemed appropriate.
    The knife handle is cherry, maple, and walnut. The cutting board is maple and walnut. To help differentiate the white keys from one another, I alternated the key blanks using flat sawn and quartersawn maple. The knife is 16 inches long, as per the pattern. The breadboard is about 24" x 8", long enough for a loaf of French bread.
    The real fun began when their two children (about 10 and 8) came over separately to "help" on their own present. It worked out nicely since there were two children and two presents. With a little forethought, they did almost every step except using the table saw, jointer, belt sander, and router. To keep their interest level high, I had a couple of other knifes in progress at different stages so they would not have to wait for the glue to dry, not to mention that none of us had much free time.
    Part of keeping things interesting was only having one child over at a time. This made it a more special time for just the two of us and prevented one getting impatient waiting for their brother or sister to finish. It was also safer only having to keep an eye on one at a time.
    We started with rough lumber that we planed with the planer. I jointed and ripped it to width, and then we sliced it on the bandsaw. With each step, there were constant reminders of “where is the blade”, “where are your hands and fingers”, and “where is the “line of fire" where you could get hurt”. I cut the notches for the black keys and we glued everything up. We glued the knife diagram to the blank and cut it out on the bandsaw in two steps, reattaching the cutoff with double stick tape to keep the blank square for the second cut.
    Small pieces of wood, glue, and an eight-year-old are a recipe for fun when gluing the cutting board. After the glue was dry, I leveled it with the belt sander and rounded over the edges on both pieces before handing them the random orbit sander.
    They applied the first coat of Watco Danish oil on the bread knife and mineral oil on the cutting board. The kids were so excited to see how they turned out, but the best was yet to come at gift exchange time. The looks of surprise on their parent’s faces and the proud "I made that" look on the kid’s faces were priceless!

. . . Paul Mosteller



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P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081