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A "first project" for kids

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kquiggle

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Recently my 11 year nephew was visiting, and wanted to see how the machines in my shop worked. Rather than just showing him the machines, I came up with a quick project which he really enjoyed, so I thought I would share it here.

The project was nothing more than making a 5/16" nut and bolt. I used brass hex rod as the material. Brass, because it cuts easily and does not need lubricant (which simplifies things), and also because it makes a nice looking project. I used hex rod because it gave us a jump start on the project (no need to mill a hex).

The project went as follows - after a brief lecture on safety, and putting on safety glasses:

Session 1 (lathe): start with a piece of hex rod about 2-1/2" in length. Chuck it in the lathe, set it up for facing, and let the nephew do the facing. Turn a section to threading diameter - let the nephew do it. Chamfer the end for easier threading. Cut off the turned piece, leaving enough hex to form a bolt head. Let the nephew do the cut off (assist with some cutting lube here). Re-chuck the cut-off piece and let the nephew face the bolt head. Put the "bolt" in a bench vise and begin threading with a threading die. Once it is started, let the nephew finish the threading.

This ends session 1 - which is just about long enough for an 11 year old attention span.

Session 2 (next day - mill) : [Note: This could have been done in the lathe, of course, but the idea is to give the nephew a chance to use the mill.] Start with a piece of brass hex rod just a bit longer than "nut thickness". Place the piece in the mill and mill the top flat (let the nephew do it). Repeat for the other side. Center drill the center of the piece, and set up for drilling to threading diameter. Let the nephew drill the piece (note - this step is a bit tricky due to brass being "grabby" - if you have a drill modified for use with brass, use it). Start the threading in the mill (just to get a square start), and then let the nephew finish the threading in the bench vise using a tap and tap wrench.

Done.

My nephew was quite happy with the result - a nut and bolt he made himself - which he could take home and show to his friends. He got to use a lathe, mill, and some basic tools, and he learned that he has the ability to "make stuff."

Some additional comments: I did all of the set-ups for the job - both to make things go a little faster, and to make sure work-pieces were properly secure. I explained (briefly) each of the steps we were doing, and showed him proper technique - just enough to proceed safely, without going into too much boring detail.

I also gave the finished piece a quick once over with a de-burring wheel to remove any sharp edges, and to polish it up a bit.

My nephew was (justifiably) proud of the result, and I think his parents were too.
 

Blogwitch

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Well done K,

I just wish a lot more of us did this sort of thing, rather than skulking into our workshops and doing everything alone.

This way, the skills and ideas about machining gets passed on to, hopefully, the younger generation and spawning a new race of model engineers, as I have to admit, we are most getting to be a bit aged now.

I tried with my grandson in his early teens, but he got more interested in electrics and electronics, and has now nearly completed his four year apprenticeship in that area, but I am hoping in the future to maybe tempt him back purely because he has had a taste of it, and being a lot more mature now, might respect what I was trying to teach him all those years ago.

John
 

vederstein

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When my nephews were younger I let them make a whistle out of some copper pipe.


...Ved.
 

JCSteam

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I'll be showing my kids how to do this, it's great to teach them little life lesson like this. I have five kids on a weekend. Will be a lot of fun showing them all how to make some nuts and bolts :)
 

goldstar31

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I sort of wonder about all this. Model Engineering is a hobby and as such, I expect my two kids to either take it or leave it. Neither have but they sort of picked things up from what my late wife and I did. Again my 4 grandchildren are simply following both parents and surviving grandparents.

Harking back to 'our parents', we picked up knowledge. I certainly could understand engineering, woodwork and was making enough money at 14 to pay my school fees to get a missed education in the war. My wife had the same sort of rounded education or perhaps better and could understand Latin and Greek at the age of 8 and equally, my Flemish neighbour was surprised at my knowledge of French and pronounciation despite not having much tuition.

Both my kids could drive at 14 and my little grand daughter was home from school saying how much she had enjoyed someone playing the flute. So my daughter opened a cupboard and presented her with her grandmother's instrument which the child had never known existed.

All that I can say is that the university fees for my 4 small grandkids are assured although I will not be present at graduations. Their parents are aware of the value of education rather than steering their children towards their hobbies or indeed mine.

granpa is a funny old man, a bit forgetful, a bit smelly, does funny things in sheds, praises them for what they have done- and is quite hilarious in claiming to have done naughty things in his past. I want to live long enough to see what some of their future brings.

'Nuff said?

Norm
 

JCSteam

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I like pop pop boats:)

Made one a little while back out of scrap brass and copper, did it all from my kitchen, it was a coil type (gas hob to anneal the copper tube with a candle for heat. The hull been epoxied, then later soft soldered, as the epoxy was naff, and melted with the heat.
 

Nick Hulme

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I just found the "Toffee Hammer" which was my first metalwork project, head marked out, drilled, tapped and filed to shape, round bar handle reduced and threaded for the head end and with a forged loop at the bottom to align with the head when fitted, protruding thread on top riveted over to retain the head and the whole thing Oil Blacked.
 

tornitore45

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The only children I could possibly entice to ldo something as described have an attention span of 15 seconds and would miss the point by saying: We spent an hour doing something we could buy at Home Depot for $0.89.
 

Wizard69

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It is great that he showed an interest. It is around that age that i started building all sorts of things in my fathers garage. Notably with far fewer tools than i have today.

Hopefully he will maintain interest. A book or two donated, that covers mill and lathe operation would be very helpful. I learned a lot in my youth about tools, wood working and machining, from books, simply because we didn't have the physical machines. For the longest time all i had for stationary tools was a beat up contractors saw and a bench grinder. So don't dismiss the advantages of good reading material.
 

Wizard69

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I like the idea of simple tool building. There is much that can be learned in small increments as hand tools individually are simple items.

I believe other classic first tools are prick punches and center punches. Extremely simple from the machining standpoint but offering much to learn.
I just found the "Toffee Hammer" which was my first metalwork project, head marked out, drilled, tapped and filed to shape, round bar handle reduced and threaded for the head end and with a forged loop at the bottom to align with the head when fitted, protruding thread on top riveted over to retain the head and the whole thing Oil Blacked.
 

goldstar31

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I like the idea of simple tool building. There is much that can be learned in small increments as hand tools individually are simple items.

I believe other classic first tools are prick punches and center punches. Extremely simple from the machining standpoint but offering much to learn.[/QUOTE

What has to be remembered is that my generation usually left school at 14 and prior to that had little or no formal education. War started on 3rd September 1939 when I was 9. So school initially was half days only because air raid shelters were being built but obviously at a slow pace as men were already being called up. Male teachers simply disappeared- many in flames as RAF aircrew. I recall that I had one day science when we made common salt-sodium chloride. The rest of my chem and physics prior to being 14 was from a kindly chemist in the colliery village.
I did prosper and from the age of 9 built rubber powered aircraft until balsa went to DH Mosquitos and rubber plantations in the Far East were overrun. At school, I tore up bits of old newspapers and they were mixed with fish glue and Paris plaster and went to make relief maps for the local Home Guard. I had no problem eventually with Physical Geography later.
Models were carved out of solid in usually 1/72 scale and were cut out of what could be called firewood. I recall using a spokeshave which was a piece of broken glass from a bombed out building. Single edged razors were honed on glass tumblers and knives and chisels sharpened on sandstone window sills. The models went on display for things like Savings drives like 'Wings for Victory' and Save the soldier.

I recall Dad making me a Boy Scout axe on the anvil for digging out live incendiary bombs and I got a chisel forged from a worn out pneumatic drill.

We as kids made do and those who left school for engineering apprentices made their own tools as part of their apprenticeships.

That, I assure you was life for most kids.

Me I grew and sold Spinach in the local market to pay for my school fees after the age of 14.

Most of us are dead now but children were skilled despite it all. I'm still in contact with an old RAF engine fitter and I'm dining with a fitter who can still spit out decimals from engineering fractions.

There are few jobs which we are afraid to tackle. It's surprising to find that we learned other skills but our 'hobbies' were not really hobbies, they had a practical use to someone.

Thanks for the space!

Norm
 

Rijobradi

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This is an old thread, but an interesting one. I recently purchased a few pen making kits for 11 and 8 year old boys.

I like the nut and bolt idea better. It will be our first project. We also have some old Star Wars models to assemble this summer. I have an early Millennium Falcon model and a few other kits.

I have a set of the compressed air engine plans, from modelenginenews.com. That would be a good set of plans for a more in depth project.
 
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kquiggle

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Hope your two guys have a fun learning experience. Let us know how it works out.
 

DJP

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I have exposed our grandchildren to my workshop machines and together we have built or repaired things of interest to them. Recently our grandson asked to be shown how to stick weld and the first thing he created now has his initials stamped in steel. I'm not sure that they will take over my shop when I am gone but they have the self-confidence to tackle any project. At 14 years old I doubt that there are any boys in our grandson's school who can stick weld.

Passing along skills and displaying pride is our role in life so it's good to see others doing the same.
 

clifforddward

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Great story here about the 11 year old nephew making a bolt and nut...I particularly liked the description of steps so that others can repeat...hopefully some have taken advantage and "passed it forward" as the kids say these days.

Back when my son Cooper was 10 years old he expressed interest in my machine tools...my "project of choice" was an aluminum flywheel...Much like kquiggle I did the basic set up and following safety instruction Cooper did the hands-on machine work.

He showed off that flywheel for years to his friends and at school, and I like to believe those early experiences prompted his career interests. He graduates this spring with a Mechanical Engineering degree and has already accepted his first job with an engineering firm. Parenting mission accomplished...

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