WT299 – Don’t Shave Your Adopted Children

Today’s show is sponsored by Harry’s where you get low cost, high quality razors. Woodtalk listeners can use coupon code ‘WOODTALK’ for 10% off your first order at Harrys.com

On today’s show we’re talking about cleaning HVLP guns between coats,width of the plane mouth, swirlies, and our featured topic: kids in the shop.

What’s On the Bench

  • Marc is editing Matt’s sofa table videos and has a public service message about woodworking plan scams.
  • Matt is starting on casement moulding.
  • Shannon is playing with SketchUp and making and re-making models.

What’s New


  • Jim attended a Lie Nielsen event and got the skinny on adjusting a rabbeting block plane.
  • Chris was going to build his daughter’s bed, but upon Marc’s advice is not going to buy one.
  • Oscar says the wax fixed up his Dewalt pine planing problem.

Featured Topics

  • James – Hey guys, I have a 4 year old son who is about the same age as Marc son and works in the shop with me almost nightly. Now we do live in a cul-de-WAC in a very nice subdivision and my son has made a friend with one of my neighbors who son is 6 years old. The neighbor kid would come over a few times week and work in the shop with my son drilling holes in scrap wood or using a handsaw to cut out different shapes. This was always supervised by me and they never used a power tool except for a drill and impact driver. Well once the neighbor kid mom found out what “danger” I had put her son into he is no longer allowed to visit our house. I tried to explain to his mother it was all supervised and I would never allow her son to use a power tool I thought he could get hurt on but it went in one ear and out the other. But now I’m starting to wonder if I’m really putting my son in danger and should I have him in the shop at all? How much do you think I should allow kid to do in the shop, is a drill to much?


Ryan is having a splintery problem with his router bit while trying to make a round over.


  • Crickett wants to know what to do with the finish in the HVLP cup between coats.
  • John is getting swirl marks from his random orbital sander.
  • Chris wants to know how wide the mouth of his hand plane should be.

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20 replies on “WT299 – Don’t Shave Your Adopted Children”

An additional thumbs up for the Mortise & Tenon journal. The quality of the writing, imagery, content, paper weight & texture, and packaging is top-notch. On the show, giggled about the packaging – it’s true, though. As I opened the mailer, I unveiled a hand-tied brown paper baggy and a bunch of wood shavings fell out.

If you are interested in woodworking (regardless of your methods), this journal is something you should invest in. Although the focus of Mortise & Tenon is pre-industrial woodworking practice, the treatise at the start of this first edition explains some of reasoning for that methodology.

Get it… it’s good.

I think you replied to the wrong comment. You can discuss adopted kids if you want (not relevant for WoodTalk, though). But don’t imply adopted kids are different to the parents than biological (I have both). If you have other ideas, it would be best to find another venue.

Shannon: skip the adopted kid jokes. My wife would come down on you like a ton of bricks if she heard that. We actually had someone ask, “if it doesn’t work out, can you send him back?”
Thanks for the rest, guys.

I interpreted Shannon’s comment as satire. I assumed he was making fun of the people that make those kinds of jokes.

In the discussion about the plane mouths, I wanted to also mention that instead of moving the frog back and forth, you can adjust the cap iron. I generally set the cap iron a hair back of the thickness of the shaving i want to take. For smoothing operations this can be .002-.003″ and for heavier cuts I may set it back a sixteenth (or more. It doesn’t really do anything at that point). My smoothers are usually set very tight, but my jointer alternates between heavy and thin cuts all the time. I have found this to be tremendously effective at controlling tearout, and though it can be a bit difficult to master, once you “get it” you can really set a plane with a super wide mouth to take any kind of cut. Richard (of englishwoodworker fame) has a video on this which I highly encourage:


Hey guys –
I think it’s funny how you can complain about bubble wrapping our kids these days, but imagine this – Mateo comes home from his friend’s house and says “Jimmy’s mom let us use her knitting needles today – I think I have a real knack for it!”
You’ll be changing your tune real quick.
Great show as always!

With regards to children in the shop:
“…children ought to have attained the degree of development which corresponds roughly to 10 or 11 years. Otherwise they cannot be expected to meet the demands made on the spirit of self-reliance during work. At the same time, as children of the same age differ greatly in point of development our guiding principle should not be the date of birth, but the mental and physical powers which the child has at command. What one child of nine years can accomplish with ease may be beyond the powers of another child of twelve.” (The Teacher’s Handbook of Slöjd, Otto Salomon, 1892, p.17)

So back in the day, they used to put a sharp knife in their hands and ready to work by themselves as early as age 9.


You were talking about building a shed for your cut offs. I just checked and the web domain name “thewoodhoarder.com” is available. You might want to jump on that….

When I was 8 or 9, everyone I knew could hammer a nail or cut a board. All my friends had a Swiss Army type pocket knife. And if you did well in school, you got an air rifle for Xmas.
Today’s parents are such wusses.


I was the one that sent in that sawmill video from episode 298. If you name your homemade sawmill the “MattMizer” I will be so excited. Also I will name my first child after you..which Matt isnt really a crazy name to name my kid..unless it is a girl..that could be weird. Okay maybe I wont name my kid after you but good luck with the build.

As a carpenter I’ve enjoyed listening to you guys and gaining some woodworking tricks I can use for different things in houses. I don’t have a full on shop at my house but occasionally do use tools at home and my young kids love to watch and “help” (which usually means holding the glue bottle or tape measure until i need it.) I don’t have an issue with anyone letting their kids use tools as long as they’re taught proper safety for them. That said some people have different opinions on how dangerous some tools are. For example, my kids love stretching out my tape measure as far as they can and then wrapping it up again. Not something I worry about in the least as I have only ever cut myself with broken tapes, but when my mother-in-law visited she made it seem like it was the most dangerous thing in the house because they MIGHT cut their fingers when it retracted. As a side note, they’ve spent many hours playing and never had a problem before. She has cut herself on a tape measure though and so the measure game ended. Can’t wait until she shows up in a few years and they’re using the table saw….

My daughter is 2 1/2 and likes to wander around the shop while I work. Mostly I keep a close eye on her but let her wander. Obviously at that age she can’t do anything but I don’t see the harm in letting her hang out if that is what she wants to do. I would say I am the opposite of a helicopter parent. I was using circular saws and drills by the time I was 10 or 11. Yes, there are plenty of ways she could hurt herself just wandering around my pit of a shop but that is simply not the sort of thing I worry about. I think the benefits of her hanging out with me outweight the risks of her getting a splinter or whatever.

My boys are 8 and 11. I’d let them use the bandsaw, a handheld jig saw, handheld drills, and thickness planer under close supervision. I wouldn’t let them use my tablesaw, router/router table or jointer yet. Maybe around age 13. Really does depend on the kid though.

As a father of four and a grandfather of thirteen I was interested in your discussion regarding the neighbour who would not let her son play with his friend in the woodwork shop. Personally I think that she was a psycho. I could go on and explain in detail why I think that this is the case but this overprotective attitude teaches the son nothing except fear and paranoia. Sure, it is important to be safe but not at the cost of experience and education.

The problem is there is nothing you can do about this overprotective attitude. I really don’t think it is modern society, I have known people like this all my life. I am just too old to have any patience for them any more.

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