April 4, 2014
Lately we’ve been using our workbench to take machines apart. I picked up a small speaker at a thrift store the other day for $1 and put it out. It only had eight screws and I could see that four of them wouldn’t open anything. (They held some brackets on.)
I had high hopes therefore for the small legs held on by the last four screws. I figured the screws must do double duty by holding the bottom of the speaker on, too.
I was wrong, absolutely, positively wrong. My student, a mechanical genius at age almost-5, got right to work and had all eight screws out posthaste. The bottom remained solidly in place. He and I both tried prying in several different places with no more luck than the screws had had.
I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I grabbed one of our saws and offered it to him. He sawed right where I showed him, along one of the seemingly immovable seams. When he got ¼ to ½ inch down, all we could see was more wood. Then he tried across the middle of the back. More wood. At this point, I picked up the speaker to reassure myself that it wasn’t heavy enough to be solid wood. The boy tried a third time right across the front of the speaker. Wood, wood, and more wood.
That’s when I pulled out the brace and bit, our hand drill. But first, a little story…
I bought my first brace and bit perhaps ten years ago. My class didn’t yet have its workbench but the school did and I thought a brace and bit would provide some first-rate small motor exercise. I may have been right but the brace had a thin bit and it was quickly bent and then broken. I found a brace with a hefty bit in a store in Colorado one summer and bought it. When I got it back to preschool, I discovered that it was missing a vital piece and wouldn’t really drill. Sigh. Then my husband happened to go to Colorado and bought me another (from the same shop!) It worked perfectly and my class drilled away, putting holes in various pieces of wood. Then my patio got broken into and my bag of workbench tools was stolen. Obviously I was not meant to have a hand drill…until a friend heard my story and gave me his dad’s old drill. We’re still using it years later! Thank you, Phil!
I showed the student how to use the drill using a block of wood. When he could drill comfortably, I turned him loose with the speaker. He worked for quite a while but he finally managed to drill through to the center of the box. The wood was quite thick, about an eighth of an inch thicker than we’d sawn. He drilled a second hole much quicker than the first and a third in no time at all. The original plan of opening the speaker was long gone, because he was enjoying the brace and bit so much. That’s fine. When he’s done drilling, we’ll saw the top off. In the meantime, he’s getting some great small motor exercise, becoming a confident workman with the drill, and having a bunch of fun. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?