Saturday, May 23, 2020


My newsletter, Number 10, Woodworking at home with kids  was sent out yesterday, as we finish our school year at the Clear Spring School.

I loaded my Building Small Cabinets DVD to my youtube channel:

I'm beginning preparations for a 3D design class for woodworkers to be presented online through the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. This will be my first online class and part of a series of classes presented online via Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic and the dangers of disease transmission involved in gathering face to face. Due to it being online, you can enroll from anyplace in the world. The class will present information useful to all craft artists, with additional information specific to our favorite material, wood. Technical support will be offered for those new to Zoom.

The photo shows superheroes designed by my daughter Lucy and her fiancé Nick. Making superheroes is this week's project presented in newsletter number 10, with the materials provided to kids at the Clear Spring School.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

chisel in one hand, mallet in the other.

It appears we are hurtling through space at an ever fast pace, too often ignoring the people and things that most directly surround us. It is time to take stock. Slow down, adjust to a reasonable pace that leaves room for forests, wildlife, notice of the loveliness of the natural world, the morning sunrise, and as the sun sets.
"Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing for long years.And for this reason, some old things are lovely warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them." -- D.H. Lawrence
But you must slow down to notice those things.

The hands, better than the eyes, bring important things more clearly into focus. Holding a chisel in one and a mallet in the other, provides the means to shape wood. It also provides the means to hold something even more dear... the creative spirit that inhabited the makers of the long generations that preceded our own.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in living and learning lifewise.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

3D design, online class

The Eureka Springs School of the Arts and I are offering a 3D Design Class for woodworkers and other craft artists on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Enrollment opened today. Use this link for additional details:

My online class is part of a series of classes to keep the school engaged during  the coronavirus pandemic.

The box shown in the photo is in the Norwegian Tine style and is  one I made from white oak.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Part three, Rustic Furniture Basics

I got permission from Taunton Press to put my other two DVDs on my youtube channel. Rustic Furniture Basics is live to view now.

Building Small Cabinets will premier on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 5 PM Central time. Both DVDs were produced as companions to books by the same names.

Please invite your friends to join me in my wood shop. I thank Taunton Press and video production cameraman and editor Gary Junken, for helping me share my work.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

reading to Rosie

My first copy of The Guide to Woodworking with Kids arrived today.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Making a new workbench...

As personal therapy during the coronavirus pandemic, I'm turning a 3 in. thick slab of maple into a new workbench to replace a thrown-together bench from years ago. It's an upgrade. It will have wheels and drawers and a bench vise that I ordered yesterday. The already completed dovetailed drawers were salvaged from a project I'd done years ago.

I enlisted the help of houseguests in wrestling the huge slab of wood through the bandsaw to square off the ends and cut it to shape.

Woodworking at its best is a collegial, cooperative operation, in which we share what we do with friends and in which we ask their help when it's needed.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

making a toy horse

I've been reviewing some of my old youtube videos as I plan a half-hour presentation about woodworking for kids. This ten-year old video shows my students at work.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, May 15, 2020

bench making for kids

In 2008, I presented a series of brief articles to the FineWoodworking website about woodworking with kids. One of the projects was making small benches for use at our preschool. It and others can be found there still. My article also presented the following rules:

 Rules for Grownups
1. Set an example of caring craftsmanship.
2. Supervise the kids, answer questions, and show them how to use tools safely.
3. Mill lumber to thickness, according to the cutlist. Make any preliminary cuts as specified in the instructions and make extra parts to allow for mistakes.
4. Leave project designs open for students to test their own ideas, create problems for themselves and find solutions. Encourage them to discover and test their own solutions.
5. Be a cheerleader for their best efforts.
6. Congratulate the kids on a job well done and be specific.

Rules for Kids
1.  Listen to what the grownups tell you. 
2.  Ask a lot of questions.
3.  Always use tools exactly as you’re told.
4. Have fun.
Rules for Working Safely
1.  No woodworking without adult supervision.
2.  No horsing around!
3. Use clamps or a bench vise to hold work for cutting, sanding, or drilling.
4. When using a saw, either hold it with both hands or put one hand behind your back.
Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

newsletter number 9

We've spent over two months in serious household lockdown with only very necessary trips out. I've made one small piece of furniture and finished about 70 boxes which, with luck and return of a reasonable economy will be sold.

This morning I sent out newsletter number 9 offering hands-on activities for the students of the Clear Spring School. I've received comments from other teachers that the newsletters have been useful.

Today's newsletter offers the making of a Soma cube puzzle. Puzzles like this and the making of them encourage the development of spatial sense, critical to the development of abilities in math, engineering and the arts.

You can read the newsletter number nine though this link:

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Expand the 62% club

A poll of 1000 millennial dads found that 38% did not own screwdrivers. This does not mean that they are not good at other things, but DIY outside the realm of apps and consumer technology is not their strongest suit.  The poll suggests that at least 62% do have screwdrivers in their homes.  That's a club we want to encourage and expand. If you have a screwdriver (you may need a full set of them to tackle the vast array of screw types and sizes), you can take things apart, you can fix things,  and failing that, you can learn something about how things were made. Forty six percent of millennial dads have cordless drills, 49% have step ladders and 32% have hammers.

Without screwdrivers we are helpless slaves of technology and consumption. With screwdrivers we have at least a small but fighting chance to conquer the forces that constrain us. One of those forces is ignorance. Another is complaisance. Another is the failing of our own curiosity. Are millennial dads to blame for something? All generations seem to agree that technological devices are often unfixable and too complex for most of us to work on or even comprehend. But a set of screw drivers might be a good way to launch an investigation.

Make, fix, create, and equip our children to learn lifewise.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Where was I?

It seems I've been so deeply disturbed by the coronavirus' impact on our nation, and the failed leadership that's allowing it to take deep hold, that it's been difficult to keep my attention on less important issues.

Education has taken a big hit, as teaching has been forced to move online, and students, sequestered in their own homes are forced more deeply into "virtual" engagement than before.

There is a clear difference between virtual learning and virtuous learning. In one, it's two dimensional and onscreen. The other involves doing real things that are of deep benefit to family, community and self. So while parents are reluctant to set limits to screen time (as it's now where their kids get schooled), some clear lines had best be drawn.

I'm grateful to have prep work to do for my kids at the Clear Spring School. I sent out the weekly newsletter yesterday and dropped off fresh materials for the kids to pick up at school to continue hands on learning.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

coming soon!

A public relations agent is working on the promotion of my new book and this is a preview of one of the press releases. You can help us to promote this book.

There will be two press releases, with one directed toward parents and educators and the other targeting woodworkers who hope to share the joy of woodworking with their kids. The one for parents reads as follows:

For Immediate Release—

The Guide To Woodworking With Kids: Craft Projects to Develop the Lifelong Skills of Young Makers Available May 26th

Doug Stowe’s how-to book for parents, grandparents, and teachers—experienced or not—to safely engage children in life-enhancing creative arts

May 6, 2020 - Eureka Springs, AR - For everyone from experienced carpenters to first-time dabblers, there are always lessons to be learned while woodworking; patience, perseverance, and grit, to name a few. Problem-solving and resourcefulness round out the rough edges of students as they progress through skills that will affect every aspect of their lives, which is why it’s so important to get started at a young age. Unfortunately, there are many inexperienced adults who don’t feel comfortable enough in a woodshop to pass along lessons and wisdom to the next generation. Enter Doug Stowe’s new instructional book, The Guide to Woodworking With Kids: Craft Projects to Develop the Lifelong Skills of Young Makers. Whether it be novice craft-minded parents and grandparents or longtime woodworking enthusiasts The Guide to Woodworking With Kids gives adults the correct tools to introduce children to the craft of woodworking and the invaluable life skills that come with it—and as the Maker Movement grows alongside the push for less screen time and more hands-on activity for children, Stowe’s book effortlessly marries the two concepts between its covers. Pre-order The Guide to Woodworking With Kids here before its May 26th release date.

The Guide to Woodworking With Kids is a culmination of craftsman Doug Stowe’s four-decade career in woodworking and nearly twenty years of working with students K-12 in his Wisdom of the Hands woodworking class at the Clear Spring School in his hometown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In that time, Stowe has seen firsthand how children’s executive function skills thrive through woodwork with the help of equal parts instruction and encouragement. But don’t just take Stowe’s word for it; studies have proven that children engaged in a hands-on craft develop—among other key skills—confidence, problem-solving abilities, and independent thinking.

Based in part on the philosophies of Froebel’s Kindergarten and Educational Sloyd, The Guide to Woodworking with Kids illustrates the importance of doing real, hands-on activities in school and at home that enable students to think things through for themselves, be handy and resourceful, explore their own self-interests, and create useful beauty which benefits family, community, and self. However, The Guide to Woodworking With Kids isn’t only as the title implies. Adults, whether longtime craftsmen and women or new hobbyists working through this book, may also pick up some invaluable skills they may have missed along the way; an irreplaceable chance for the teacher to find themselves as the student, once again. 

Title: The Guide to Woodworking With Kids: 15 Craft Projects to Develop the Lifelong Skills of Young Makers
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Price: $24.95
ISBN: 9781940611884
Format: Paperback

More About The Author: Doug Stowe began his woodworking career in 1976 and was reminded of the importance of hands-on learning by teaching his own daughter in the woodshop. In 2001, he launched the Wisdom of the Hands Program at the Clear Spring School to prove the value of hands-on learning in a school woodshop. He is the author of 13 other woodworking books, over 100 articles in the woodworking magazines and educational journals, and publishes a blog dedicated to promoting the value of hands-on learning. The son of a kindergarten teacher, Stowe has become a respected authority on learning for all ages. In addition to teaching at the Clear Spring School, Stowe teaches adults the fine art of woodworking at schools and clubs throughout the United States.

More About Blue Hills Press: In an era where it’s easy to take things for granted, the goal of Blue Hills Press is to help you take back the knowledge and satisfaction that comes from doing things yourself and understanding the things that bring you joy. Whether it’s controlling the food you cook and consume, better understanding the music you love, or creating and interacting with items you encounter every day, being engaged in what we do enriches our lives. 

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

a bit lonely...

It feels a bit lonely these days to drive by the Clear Spring School campus and to see the Froebel blocks in the same position they were in the last time I drove by.

Normally they are rearranged and rearranged on a daily basis as children play, exercising their strength, athleticism and creative intelligence. It's called play. An article, The Long Island Play Revolution highlights the need for play and it's nice to see that other schools and communities are beginning to accept what we've known for a very long time.

Perhaps when the Covid-19 disaster is over, we can return to things in a better state. Our hopes are high for a time when our children can play safely together without fear.

In my wood shop I've been helping my daughter's fiancé, Nick, build a triptych frame for a painting he wants to create. It's his first time to do woodworking and he's already hooked and hoping for another project, and looking forward to having his own wood shop. Nick's brother is building a large wooden sculpture and both are learning basic woodworking skills.

I'm also working on forty three small inlaid boxes and preparing materials for our kids at Clear Spring School to pick up for woodworking lessons at home.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

The Great Realisation

Make, fix, create. Based on your work alone, the world will become a better place.

Friday, May 01, 2020

today in the woodshop...

Months ago I had inlaid the lids to small boxes and with things being slow around here due to Covid-19 and social distancing I'm cutting parts to complete what I'd started. Do I need to make more boxes? Perhaps not. But do I need to make more boxes? Yes.

There is a direct connection between the hands and the brain. Busy hands create a sense of agency, thus brushing aside feelings of anxiety and depression. They lead us through tough times. I also know that when I have a supply of boxes that can be sold in better days, my own economic future is slightly more bright.

The photo shows one of the boxes I finished last week. The woods are birdseye maple and walnut.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

number 7

I sent out number 7 of my weekly newsletter, Woodworking at home with kids. I welcome feedback, and you are welcome to subscribe if you are not already receiving it. This week I'm exploring paper box making as a way to increase proficiency of hand and mind.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

making do...

The Shiloh Museum in Springdale, Arkansas has an online exhibit, Make Do, appropriate to our times. While we are waiting for the next Amazon cardboard box to arrive, we might consider making a few things for ourselves.

Friends Dustin and April Griffith and their home made of shipping containers is included in the exhibit. Another good friend Darla Gray-Winter has her box guitars featured in the exhibit.

May we hope for better days to come in which we all are motivated to engage in cooking, making, and making-do from the things we find around us. There is a nice video showing how to make a simple box from a cereal box. Just think about how much wonderful material is thrown out from our homes each day.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Wissenshaft, kentniss and seen that.

In the German language, knowledge is described in two forms, Wissenshaft, and Kentniss. Wissenshaft refers to knowledge passed along, accumulated and expressed second hand and Kentniss refers to knowledge gained directly through experience. If you have any practical experience in the real world and have gained skill as a result, you may know the difference between the two, and the way in which one reinforces the other.

There's another form of knowledge held by the youtube learner that we can call "seen that." Unlike wissenshaft which most often requires reading skills, youtube learning allows you to jump from one thing to another in a passive manner. I'm trying to understand whether that's better or worse. If youtube learning leads to non-youtube doing, that could be a good thing.

I'm reminded of a student years ago who insisted as I tried to introduce a new technique, "I know that." His comment seemed dismissive, so I asked him to show me what he knew, for surely there's a difference between knowing something about something, and knowing how to actually do something. There's a difference between the virtual world and what we can call a virtuous world. In one, we pretend to do stuff. It's likely harmless. In the other we find ways to be of service to each other.

Yesterday I applied a second coat of Danish oil to about 25 boxes. They'll get one more coat and then at some point be distributed for sale. I also applied another coat of Danish oil to the bathroom bench.

Make, fix, create and assist others to learn lifewise.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

what's up?

This morning I'm on the cover of "What's Up," an entertainment insert in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and I was featured in the lead article about the White St. Walk, a craft show that I participate in each year here in Eureka Springs.

The White St. Walk was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the Democrat-Gazette was kind enough to create a "virtual" White St. Walk with several local artists.

It's not the same as being able to visit safely with friends. We look forward to next year.

Today I'll take advantage of lovely warm, dry weather to apply Danish oil to boxes and the small bench.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

a small ash bench

I've been making a small amount of progress each day on a bathroom bench. It will be a place to sit as you get dressed, and is made of ash. Today I'll drill holes in the legs for the dowels that will attach the base to the top.

It has some subtle features. The stretcher that stabilizes the legs is tightened through the use of wedges that will be pounded in place from the top and underside and glued. The leg sections are tapered toward the top, to make it appear just a bit lighter, but without sacrificing width and stability at the base.

The top is shaped to feel more inviting.

The parts from which the angled legs were assembled were cut from a single 12 in. wide board, as was the top. The angled legs add just a bit more stability to the structure, as they are shaped to stand on their own, even when disconnected from the bench.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, April 24, 2020

number 6 Newsletter.

Yesterday I sent out newsletter number 6, Woodworking at Home with Kids.

This one is about making a Sloyd trivet. I've prepared the materials for distribution to Clear Spring School students on Monday.

The expanding trivet (my own design) is a modification and enhancement of the fixed size trivets shown in Gustaf Larsson's book Elementary Sloyd and Whittling. The kids like it because it can be adjusted and played with after assembly. It demands accuracy in the alignment of parts.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

developing heart...

You may have wondered about the difference between sapwood and heartwood. Sapwood carries nutrients and water between the roots and leaves, while the dense heartwood cells fill over time with solids that give the tree greater strength and decay resistance.

Sapwood is generally a lighter color, and is therefore thought less attractive by some. Others are intrigued by the contrast it offers in the design of work. In situations where decay is possible, like in building wooden boats or outdoor furniture, it should be avoided.

These days, many trees are purposely grown so fast for a profit that heartwood has too little time to fully form. This leads to wood of lesser quality than the woods of old.

Note in the illustration that there's springwood in which the tree grows quickly forming new rings, summerwood that's more dense, followed by winter in which little growth takes place.

With the pandemic and social distancing, it may seem we're stuck. Is this winter still? Or are we poised for fresh growth? We are in strange times, indeed. You'll note in the drawing that not all years of growth are the same. And yet, we can feel assured that growth is relentless. We will get through these times together.

Like the heartwood in the tree, we, too, take time to form and to have strength. These difficult days will build us, and make us strong. Be safe, Stay well. Take special care of each other.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It's Earth Day...

It is Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1970. This is a time to be thankful for whatever natural environment we have left, and to do more than plant a few trees in remembrance of what we've lost.

I have clear memories of the first Earth Day. I was a senior at Hastings College in Nebraska, and a very small number my friends and I gathered along a small drainage ditch in a field. It was the most close-to-natural spot we could find. We said a few words as we stood together, the gist of which was that the Earth and its natural world should no longer be neglected, but should instead be preserved. It was clear to us that man was making a mess of things and that from that Earth Day forward, we (mankind) would do a better job of preserving things.

I can look at these intervening 50 years with disappointment.

A friend had told me that while everyone was concerned about saving the earth, the earth would take care of itself, and that the people should worry that if we don't take care of the earth and all life upon it, it would be the people that suffer. Welcome to 2020. Is this a year to learn from our past and gain a clearer view of what's to come? Can we learn at long last to live in greater harmony with the Earth and its wonders?

Let's hope.

Make, fix, and create. Assist other in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

a small bench

Today in my home wood shop, after finalizing a design with my wife, I'm beginning work on a small bench. It will be a place to sit while getting dressed and will replace a five board bench from my book on Making Rustic Furniture that will be moved to another spot.

The new bench will be made of ash. The angled shape of the legs will give it a great deal of stability and strength.

I'm also putting lift tabs on the lids of boxes to make them easy to open, and preparing more materials for my students to continue woodworking at home. Due to the Coronavirus, things in the shop and life in general are moving at a leisurely pace.

I hope my readers are well and staying safe.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Uncoddleing the American mind.

Circumstances have a way of bringing us back to reality, and even though we might find comfort in a retreat to the safety of our digital devices, that both distract us from real things, and remind us of them. There are real dangers out there. There is no real ease in the real world, even though we may find temporary sequester from it. Stock all your closets with toilet paper, and that still doesn't mean you won't run out of it at some point.

David Brooks in the New York Times write an OpEd, "The Age of Coddling is Over, Learning what hardship has to teach us." He talks about the rigors of med school and of science education and how doctors are trained by the rigors of their educations, not to run away from danger, but toward it. And if you are paying attention to what's going on around the world, and not just gaming your life away, you no doubt feel some great sense of gratitude for those willing to put their own lives on the line in defense of others.

The world is changing. Normal is no longer a word that will fit. We are attempting to distance from each other and band together in safer, smaller groups. And perhaps the age of coddling our children is over. And perhaps truly caring for them would have been best handled by giving them real work to do, in service to family, community and friends, thus preparing them, as does med school, and the army, to take risks and to rise up.

Is it possible that sequestering children from reality to make their lives safe, also coddles their minds? Current circumstances suggest that we can no longer do that.

The large Froebel blocks on the Clear Spring School campus have been idle for weeks.When they are in use you see children lifting and moving them and arranging them to the limits of their strength.

I've been using the wood shop there to drill a few holes in preparation for student at-home work. These days will come to an end. Children will return to work and play. But where's the testing and tracing that needs to be put in place first? So far, not so good.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

volume 1, number 5

Today I sent out Volume 1, Number 5 of my newsletter, Woodworking at Home with Kids. In it, I offer useful information for both kids and adults, including two quick videos on wood grain, how to read it and how to understand it.

I've known for a long time that all kids need to have hands-on learning experiences that schools in general no longer supply. So the burden of education falls on parents and grandparents to offer creative experiences that the children's schools ignore. If you are not receiving the newsletter, you can sign up for it here:

It's interesting what the Covid-19 virus is doing to our nation's schools. On the one hand, teachers and students are being forced online, despite the warnings that screen time is actually a disruptive force in child development, that leads to depression, anxiety, childhood obesity and additional serious effects. On the other hand, the usual testing regime that takes place this time of year have also been disrupted, requiring universities to find other models for accepting students in place of the usual ACT and SAT test scores which never actually measured anything that important in the first place.

It is time to be acutely aware of our own and each other's needs for mental health. Researchers have noted that symptoms of depression and anxiety are alleviated when we are busy and feel a direct sense of agency and control over our own lives. Our hands have the power to reshape our emotions and our feelings about ourselves and our surroundings. Never has it been more important to be doing real things that offer some service to each other. This applies to both children and adults.

In my own wood shop I find a sense of comfort in preparing tools and materials for my students to make things at home. Be safe, Stay well!

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

a walk in the woods.

Yesterday my daughter Lucy and I took 42 of her New York high school students on a visual walk in the woods outside out home. We were accompanied by our dogs Beepers and Rosie and walked the area that Lucy used to play in as a child. The students now know just a wee bit about Arkansas, a bit abut the forest ecology and a bit about a life that's far different from their own.

In my woodshop and in the studio at the Clear Spring School, I've been making parts for students to use at home, and that will be packaged for distribution next Monday. I also plan to work on boxes today for the time when the economy eventually opens back up.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Risky play

There is a new brief video trailer on "Risky Play" from Match Frame Creative that features some of our Clear Spring School Students at work in the wood shop.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Monday, April 13, 2020


The Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow released a podcast interview with me on their website. I want to thank Chad Gurley from the Writer's Colony for allowing me to tell my story. We tell stories in the hopes that we may be of some use to each other. The interview is part of a series of podcasts the Writer's Colony is doing to address the question, "how are artists and writers dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?" We all are making changes. You can find the podcasts here:

My own podcast is here:

Today I delivered wooden squares and nails to the Clear Spring School to be picked up and used in at home lessons. I've been attempting to develop an on-screen tutorial about using the free 3D modeling program Sketchup to build a Lego block. I keep making mistakes as I've been attempting to run through the entire process without needing to edit. In the wood shop I have lots of boxes to sand and finish. With shops closed, and retail buying curtailed, I make things for the pleasure and necessity of doing work.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

enough already!

We are beginning our second month of being socially distant, and it takes its toll. The folks at the grocery store seem stressed and cautious, and we all will welcome better days. Those days will come.

I'm working in my own shop to get kits made for my student's parents to pick up next week, and the week after and I'm working on a youtube tutorial on how to use Sketchup to make a Lego block. The value of that is partly in learning a useful design program, and also in learning to follow explicit instructions to a "T." A small typing error, inputing the wrong dimension, being off by a fraction of a millimeter will not create a Lego block that fits other Lego blocks.

When we are no longer so distant my students and I will be able to print their Lego blocks using the school's 3D printers.

Keeping busy allows me to cope.

My newsletter for woodworking at home with kids Volume 1, Number 4,  went out yesterday and explains the use of the square. My shop made squares are ready for parents to pick up at school on Monday to continue at home learning.

Kids are being pushed into more and more screen time and while our internet devices are helping us all to cope, in the long term we need to be doing real things.

There's an arts initiative to support artists that shows promise:

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Make something for a friend.

During our "social distancing, " we might feel lonely and missing our friends. It's ironic that our woodworking tools that some think of as dangerous, are actually less dangerous to us than hanging out with friends.

In any case, making art can ease the troubled heart. It's therapeutic. And it's done best when you can hold your friend and friendships in mind. Think of someone you miss and make something for them. You'll feel much better, I guarantee.

The Eureka Springs School of the Arts, and the Good Shepherd Humane Society have teamed up for a wonderful fund raiser in honor of our furry friends.

You can donate your skills as artist or develop your skills as an artist and participate in this worthwhile event. If you have a furry friend you love, you can have its portrait done by an artist or aspiring artist for the low price of $15.00. The picture shows an example. For more information, follow the link below.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Rosie Edition

I've published a new woodworking at home for kids newsletter featuring the woodworking of Rosie. I hope it is useful to you.

You can subscribe through the link above.

This afternoon I participated in a recording of  podcast for the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow. I'll let you know when that podcast is available for your listening pleasure.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise

Monday, April 06, 2020

Using a square

Using a square.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

a simple demonstration of wood grain

This is a simple demonstration of wood grain and its effects in working with wood.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

the making of masks.

A friend and blog reader Tim Holton sent me a link to his own blog that mentions a thing he'd read here last year about the "fabric of community." I urge you to read it because it's a beautiful piece that concerns the making of masks.

If it's N95 masks that the medical community needs, what place is there in that for the home-made? Have you wondered? Here in our own town of Eureka Springs many are making fabric masks in a project led by local clothing designer and teacher at the Clear Spring School, Mark Hughes. You can see Mark's video tutorial through this link. There is joy in feeling of service to others that I hope all come to know.

It's recommended now that we all wear masks when we go out, but is there a place for hand-made masks in hospitals? I learned from Tim Holton's post that some in the medical community are wearing hand-made masks over their N95's. They give a sense of identity and recognition to the faceless heroes of our Coronavirus catastrophe. They also protect the important N95's from being discarded due to becoming soiled.

That they are made with love should say enough.

Stay well.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.


I heard back from a reader who began using Paper Sloyd with his stuck at home kids. Matt said,
"The ‘lesson’ was a success, despite initial grumbling. Once the kids decided for themselves that they could make the project theirs by customizing things, they were all over it. Attached is a photo."
Thanks Matt, for sharing this. I've been reflecting on the narrative qualities of wood, that: "where there's a knot, there had been a branch" and how much we are like trees. They tell their stories. We tell ours, even though we often tend to take the easy way out, by using our words, rather than mind, muscle, and hands. It makes a difference how we think of narrative. Is it only human jabber, or is it connected to deeper human experience? One difference between trees and man is that trees don't jabber.

This coming week I have a podcast with the Writer's Colony in Eureka Springs, so I've also been reflecting on the difference between how-to writers, and those who dwell upon fictional subjects. This is not to disparage other forms of writing which also require effort and imagination, but we how-to writers are held to the bonds and boundaries of the real world, and in that are empowered to bring real change to real lives. A child writing a note to Nana to fill an envelope carefully crafted from paper offers a small example of our work.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in living and learning lifewise.

Friday, April 03, 2020

attempting to be brief...

As I've been attempting to convey lessons in woodworking to the students and parents at the Clear Spring School, I'm beginning to realize that I need to be brief. Many (even parents) will not read what I write, as reading has become hard for us in our twitter age.

Even with the corona virus slowing us down and giving us more time to read we seem to have lost the knack for long sentences.

But it's difficult for me to be brief on a subject I love so much and that's so deeply entwined in human culture to the point many don't know that it's there.

Wood and the attempt to make useful and beautiful objects from it are foundation blocks in human civilization.

So for those who don't like to read so much, I offer the following about the kits that Clear Spring School parents will pick up for their kids beginning Monday by arrangement with their core teachers or head of school.
  1. A labeled and finished sample of an Arkansas hardwood. The students are to  use the internet to learn more about the tree and the uses of its wood, then draw a picture of the tree or write a poem or observations about the tree.
  2. A block of 2 x 4 spruce (a common building material). Count the annual rings and give thought to how long it took to grow in comparison to their own lives.
  3. A sanding block with which they are to work on the 2 x 4 block, sanding to compare results, across and with the grain.
While we are in some difficult times, look at the spaces between the annual rings and notice that not all are not the same. Trees, too, grow through difficult times, and that the rings go on, tells us that we, too, will grow on to better days.

With the sanding block, I offer this warning to kids. Only use it on unfinished wood. Using it on other things will get you in big trouble.

I'll try to lay out assignments more simply in my future mailings. If you want to receive those mailings, use this link.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

number 3

I just sent out the number 3 newsletter Woodworking at Home with Kids. There are millions of kids out there, suffering from social distancing that would benefit from woodworking, a better understanding of wood and a greater respect for craftsmanship. You can help by passing the newsletter along to parents, grandparents and teachers.

If you want to subscribe, click on the link above. It offers the opportunities to subscribe, view earlier editions, and have the page translated into a language of your choice.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

an easier link

A friend, Kim Brand sent an easier link for folks trying to download the Paper Sloyd book than from my drop box account.

This will be useful for those attempting to make use of my emails about woodworking at home with kids.

Viewing the email online you can subscribe, download the previous message, and thanks to google also view translations in a wide variety of languages, so world-wide, parents and children can benefit from stay at home woodworking exercises.

I received this lovely quote from Marsha:
"Behind the visible surface of things is the infinite ocean of possibility. Its waves are so beautiful and inviting. "What a wonderful world," Louis Armstrong sings. What a wonderful life, in which the playful waves in the cosmic ocean dare you, tease you, and play a game of hide and seek with you, all the time hoping that you will catch one and turn it into a beautiful poem, a painting, a song, or a wonderful act of human kindness." — Lothar Shäfer - Infinite Potential - What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live
I am reminded that we are interconnected, and perhaps that offers some consolation in challenging times. We can dwell upon our separateness and suffer the pain of isolation, or we can feel (even while sequestered) that we are not alone.

As I work alone in my shop, am I alone? There are tools there in my own hands that others have designed and crafted or that were passed down to me. And from my simple shop, there's a flow of ideas and forms that can be placed in service for others. And the woods! May I tell you about the woods? I'm overwhelmed thinking about that, so the subject will await another day. Wood will be the subject of my next news letter. You will have to subscribe to receive it.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Volume 1, number 2

I just sent out volume 1, number 2 of my newsletter series, Woodworking at home with the kids at the Clear Spring  School. If you use the link, it will allow you to subscribe and to view the first in the series if you missed it.

The photo shows an original first edition of the book Paper Sloyd along with a "wall pocket" and  a hand crafted valentine I found saved in the book.

Make, fix, create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Monday, March 30, 2020

a review

I sent a review pdf of my new Guide to Woodworking with Kids to a very dear friend in Sweden, who had been my guide and host at Nääs, Sweden, the home of Educational Sloyd.

Though quite elderly, Hans Thorbjörnsson, wrote the following:
"Your creation Guide to Woodworking with Kids is a remarkable creation. You have brought The Teacher's Handbook(Salomon's) ... and The Theory of Educational Sloyd into the 21st century - in a much better version. Lots of photos of high quality, very instructive and filled with interested children. Drawings so easy to understand that even Rosie can use them. And best of all - your text caracterized by your passion for educational sloyd and it's good fruits, especially the co-ordination between hands och brain, Wisdom of the Hands.

"The models are adapted to children's and young students'interests, much better than Salomon's dusty ones. Carl Malmsten - remember his criticism - is applauding you from designers' heaven.

"Educational sloyd and good woodworking are most essential in our digital time. You have done your best and I feel happy to have seen it happen before I close my eyes."
Hans, a historian and teacher, had written books about Educational Sloyd and Nääs. When I met him, he was the curator of Otto Salomons library at Nääs and he has been my correspondent for years as I've delved into the history and methods of Educational Sloyd.

In his note Hans makes reference to Carl Malmsten, a Swedish designer craftsman who had been at Nääs, and later became James Krenov's teacher, and through that had a tremendous effect on American woodworking. Malmsten had caused great dissention at Nääs, as he tried to bring Sloyd forward into the 20th century. His ideas and ideals of fostering the child's creativity and responding more directly to the interests of the child were not well received at the time.

In my own shop, I'm working on designs for a bathroom bench, and preparing lessons for my next newsletter.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

a simple new look...

A simple new look. I've been making some boxes with veneered panels glued into the top. Some were left with too large a gap surrounding the panels, so my fix has been to put a fresh veneer on the top. I like it and hope you do also. Now final sanding, the installation of a lift tab on the lid and the application of an oil finish will bring these to completion.

A friend in Finland wondered about how to sell boxes for a price that reflects the effort required to make them. He mentioned living in an Ikea world in which everything was made cheap. But making is not just making. It's learning, and it gives shape to the feelings we have about ourselves. It's therapy in hard times, and gives us the ability to cope with difficult circumstances. As we pursue growth of skill, we influence those around us to do the same. And if we want to live in strong communities, we must encourage each other to do as follows:

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

an invitation

My first newsletter about woodworking with kids went out this afternoon. You are welcome to invite others to subscribe.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise

an insatiable desire to make things.

This video about the  woodworking of Russ Zeitz. came to me from Lee Valley. Russ says, "You will never get bored if you start making things." Russ describes his "insatiable desire to make things."

In the meantime, I'm just getting ready to send out the first of my woodworking with kids emails to the parents of my Clear Spring School kids. To subscribe you will have to send me an email. It will offer tips for parents of students grades K-12 but also may be useful to woodworkers in general.

Stay busy, stay well.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in living likewise.

Friday, March 27, 2020

moment to movement

What do our hands offers learning? Some research has shown that we learn science more effectively (and it's remembered) when we learn hands-on, even when less breadth of material is covered.

I suggest a revolution in schooling to make use of concrete learning to a greater degree than we do now. The covid-19 epidemic is likely to divorce learning even more from concrete learning unless we can figure out how to become a channel for propelling kids to get off their digital devices and into the real world. Many years ago, a friend had suggested to me that my brains are in my hands, and that threw me for a loop. I realized he was right, and over the years became aware that was not only true for me, but for most others as well.

I would urge all teachers and all students, even those in academic subjects to thoroughly examine their own learning experience sand particularly those a-ha life changing moments that brought them to an extreme interest in a particular subject area, and assess how deeply their hands were engaged at the time. Were they doing something real, were they out in a real place, and did they connect what they were learning with actual real world experience? I believe effective learning for all of us, must involve engagement in reality. And where the hands and mind are equally engaged, the heart follows. 

This is what I try to write about in this blog. So let's see how we can build this moment into a movement. There's a real world out there folks. Let's examine it hands-on and learn from it, and build a better world from what we've learned.

In the meantime, I'm working on boxes and trying to figure out how to get tools and materials distributed safely to our kids. Thanks, Dana,  for the ostrich. You can discover such cool things when you're paying attention to wood.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

new Woodworking with Kids newsletter

During this time of crisis, and with kids out of school for the time being, I'm looking for ways to keep out students engaged, and also to help other woodworking teachers to do the same. So I'll be using mail chimp to help me to send weekly newsletters to student's families offering projects that can be done at home.

If you want to subscribe, I'll need your name and email address, which can be sent to me at The first issue of volume one will be sent in the next few days. You can unsubscribe at any time.

The photo shows wooden squares recently glued up and "squared," for student use. These will be sent home for our students to use and learn from. They are like the ones we use at the Clear Spring School, but these will be theirs to keep.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

path to learning

Scott Bultman has launched a podcast based on the interviews they conducted with over 100 educators from across the US. You can join in here: I was one of the educators interviewed for the History of Kindergarten documentary film project and some of our Clear Spring School kids will likely be included. I'll try to let my readers know when my own interview will be released.

We seem to be facing a revolution on all fronts, and I hope the Kindergarten model of learning can play a role in what comes up in education and in life.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Monday, March 23, 2020


Today we begin our second week of being self-sequestered in our homes, maintaining a safe distance from others and figuring out how to move forward. I've finished a brief article for American Woodturner magazine that will appear in a future issue. I've also set up a small photo booth to take pictures of boxes so that I can list them for sale on

All of our teachers, students, parents and families are adjusting to new circumstances. So we are feeling our way. I talked to my sister Mary in Lincoln, Nebraska where schools are also closed for the time being. They are being told by administration to go lightly in their expectations and in assignments for home learning. What the kids need most will be assurance and support.

My wife an I and many others are lucky to live in a nice home, and to have managed to avoid poverty. We were able to stock up on supplies. This is not the case for many and there will be extreme, devastating effects. Can we not, as a nation with such wealth, make certain that the least among us are offered security of food, security of home, security of health and freedom from fear? It seems that since FDR, the two parties have answered that question in different ways.

In the meantime, the Republicans are working on a bailout for American corporations. The Democrats are working on a bailout of the American people. If we soon weather this crisis and put it behind us, the folks with big money will be making Wall St. bounce back, while folks in the street will will continue to face devastation for years.

There's a tendency in the news to present the stock exchange and what happens in it as "the economy." Let me assure you that the economy is much larger than Wall St. It includes the nurses and doctors that go to work each day to care for our sick. It includes the grocery clerks who struggle to provide curbside service and are there to make certain that in our sequestered state, we eat. Yes, it even includes boxes made in a very small woodshop and placed Etsy. And it includes teachers now struggling to find new ways to keep their students engaged and learning.

Make, fix, create, care for others by taking good care of yourself.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

on the square

Yesterday I began making tools to send home with our kids in busy bags to keep them learning while being sequestered in their homes. So we start with the square.

The square and the geometry it entails is fundamental to modern civilization. In woodworking, square cuts and square edges allow parts to be well fitted to each other. And with the use of the square to examine the world that surrounds us,  perhaps we and they will note a few things of interest. I will present some exercises using the square as lessons to the kids.

With two of the the Educational Sloyd precepts in mind, Start with the interests of the child, and move from the concrete to the abstract, the square presents and opportunity for learning. For each student to have a tool of his or her own, will excite interest. Each square is a concrete object with which to examine abstract concepts.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Friday, March 20, 2020

paper sloyd

Paper Sloyd was written by Ednah Anne Rich and published in 1912.  I just finished scanning it, arranging it and uploading it so that you can download, enjoy and make use of in the stay at home education of kids. I added my own article about paper Sloyd from Woodwork Magazine published a number of years ago as I was reintroducing Sloyd to American woodworkers.

So why is this important now? Kids are stuck at home and parents are wondering what to do about it. Kids need to continue learning and we know that hands-on is better by far than being stuck at a computer all day. Academic third-party learning and hands-on discovery-based learning each refresh and nourish the other.

Paper Sloyd was a means to prepare very young students for later lessons in woodworking. It involves accurate measuring, and the ability to follow instructions. Unlike origami, the outcome instead of being merely decorative is useful. The projects are arranged to take advantage of how kids learn, moving from the known to the unknown, from the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. It also engages and develops spatial visualization, that will later be important in finding success in math. But just because the book shows very young children at work, does not mean that older children and adults would not learn from it and enjoy it.

The tools of paper Sloyd are scissors and ruler, both of which should be available in most homes (at least I hope so!) Only paper is required to make the models from the book which offers three years of paper folding lessons. I prefer to use card stock for most of the projects, to make them more lasting, but lighter paper can be used.

Even if you never use this book, the way projects are laid out is instructive as it illustrates the way that lessons were laid out in woodworking Sloyd. When you've learned the lessons from one project, what you've learned will make the next just a bit easier and the instructions just a bit more clear as you build skills in a sequential and natural manner.

A student favorite from the book is making paper pinwheels as shown.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

make a wish, make a list...

Years ago, a friend who had spent WWII in China had told me that the Chinese symbol for crisis and the Chinese symbol for opportunity are the same. And so, what do you want to learn, and what do you want to develop that you can during a time of being sequestered from our normal reality.

Kelly McDonough, director of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts has always wanted to knit socks. So with a new knitting kit in hand, and her dad crafting some lovely new needles, she's ready for some days or weeks, working at home.

We need a way that we can share what we're learning, so I suggest visiting the ESSA facebook page and sharing with others in our arts community. If you do, and even if your results are not what you might hope for at first, you'll likely find encouragement and support from others facing the same challenges.

Decide what you've always wanted to learn. Make a wish for it, and that you find a way for it. Make a list of what you need. Do some careful shopping if you must. Or think about things you already have in your home that might help. As a friend Paul Ruhlman suggests, "Do what you can with what you have." But don't forget to share with others.

If you don't have any ideas, go to my blog, There you'll find years of ideas from my teaching at the Clear Spring School and from my time teaching adults in woodworking clubs and schools and through articles in various woodworking magazines. Spool knitting is a great way to occupy and excite children's hands. I plan to supply knitting spools to our students at the Clear Spring School.

In the meantime, and as an example from the blog, you might wonder about your hands. Did you know that wearing a single glove on one hand or the other can actually change the way you think?

In thinking about Kelly knitting socks, I'm reminded of a pair of gloves I bought in Helsinki from a woman who knitted fingerless gloves while talking to me in a market. How can a person's hands be so smart? As proof, I have a pair of her gloves in my coat pocket.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

unprecedented times

I have been reading my friend Charles Templeton's new first novel based on his actual experience as a crew chief on a CH46 tandem lift helicopter in Vietnam. Boot-A Sorta Novel of Vietnam is now available on Amazon His is an amazing story about the incredible idiocy of war and the young men thrown into Vietnam. Post war, Charles became a lifelong teacher and educator, who has become a beloved member of our own community. His novel has been in the works for years, and is a very good read. He and I feel towards each other that we're brothers, so to read his book is a very good thing.

I'm also led to compare those days when our nation was torn apart by war, with these days when we are at war with a deadly virus and led by an administration that for weeks bent over backwards to assure us that all was OK and everything is under control as the deadly virus spread undetected and undetectable through every state. In the meantime the invasion of the Covid-19 virus is nearly complete. Unlike a nation torn apart by war, this is actually worse. It's a war that we don't send young folks off to fight. It's here and it's a war we are left to fight ourselves.

In war young innocent men and women are sent away into battles, returning with scars that are often unseen but that have deep effects on their lives and their families and communities. In this case, we have the opportunity to rise up and stand of defense of each other, and the oddest thing at this point is that we protect each other by hiding out until test kits are actually delivered and we are assisted with tools to fight the deadly disease.

One of the challenges in all this is to keep our heads on straight and our spirits up. One of the tools that's proven to be successful for that is to engage our hands and hearts in meaningful creative work. Yesterday I spent some time cleaning my office and sanding boxes. Today I hope to continue in the same vein. Reading is another good thing, as I proven to myself through my enjoyment of Charles Templeton's book.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.