Tinkering School is an odd mixture of traditions and improv. We used to expect campers to root around in the boxes of tools and materials of their own accord when they needed something. Over the years we saw less exploration and more reliance on a small subset of very well known items. To reverse this tendency, we now have the Dance of the Tool Elves. It goes something like this: everyone grabs a box from the shelves and puts it on the work table.
Then, we take up positions around the work table, pull a random item (which we have to name), then take two steps clockwise. Repeat until it becomes ridiculous.
Add in five-minute mini-talks from Gever and the Collaborators to cover proper tool use and barn etiquette.
The chop-saw is a long-time favorite in the Tinkering School tool repertoire.
This might be the Tinkering School equivalent of catching snowflakes on your tongue…
Liora and Emma mount the assembly to test the butt-joint – in the weakest direction!
Noah leans on the “shelf” to test it’s load-bearing ability. And discovers that it breaks with almost no pressure. Lesson: screwing into the end-grain of a 1×4 is a fool’s dream. Back to the drawing board.
Gever adds a brace under the shelf, Noah leans hard, then harder, then hard as he can – it won’t break!
Noah decides that it is time to put it to the ultimate test. Will it hold? It will!
Will it hold Lauren? It will!
Will it hold Mori? It will!
Will it hold Liora? It will!
Will it hold Gever?
After structural engineering 101, Gever announces the afternoon project: build a chair that you can sit on at the dinner table. Tonight? Yes, and you only get 16 linear feet of 1×4. No you cannot use fancy hardware from the Tinkering School boxes.
Birds of a feather – Mackenzie and Eloise start planning their chairs.
Serena (promoted to junior Collaborator this session) is in charge of metering out the boardage. Brigid would like one of the full-length 8-foot boards, please.
Eloise cuts her chair legs. Four, very diminutive legs.
Griffin checks his cutting plan with Lorena (colaboradora de España).
Adam proves that a steady hand with the jigsaw obviates the need for the table saw. It was a good cut, said Serena.
Gever has to convince the New York boys (Griffin and Mori) that they don’t need six legs on their bench, and the only way they will believe it is to try it out. Shims are deployed and weight is applied.
This photograph is needed to prove to them that the bench does not bend (much).
Noah’s single-seater bench is a showcase of precision assembly.
His work shows in the tightness of his joinery.
Eloise might be using fairy magic to hold her chair together, but we can’t be sure because she is just terrifically sneaky.
Emma measures wood to be removed from both ends of her seat boards so as to maximize time at the chop saw.
The photographer normally frowns on posed shots, but the Griffin and Mori bench stands on it’s own four legs – a moment worthy of the “V” for victory (or is it “peace man!”?).
Zachary embraces the iterative engineering process that is the norm at Tinkering School by building, adding, and then promptly removing a backrest.
Harry, under the watchful eye of Mackenzie, braces to his wobbly legs.
Zachary gets a little help from Serena with the addition of feet to his legs.
Mori and Griffin employ bar-clamps in the assembly of their much-needed leg braces. Gever appreciates the use of clamps.
And, suddenly, chairs!
Keen to demonstrate the benefits of backless stools, Brigid and Lauren carry the fruits of the labor on just one finger.
Over dinner, Gever tells the story of the relationship between the width of the Roman chariot and the design of the US Space Shuttles (he heard it as a teenager in an episode of James Burke’s Connections, but as he and Serena explored the veracity of the story, they found some corroboration and some “minor” and “unremarkable” discrepancies). But, the point is, chariots are cool and we have four bicycles from Session 2 that would make great horses. So, it’s chariots by Tuesday afternoon!
After dinner, we returned to the barn for some might fine free-buildin’ action.