Thursday, June 06, 2013

Power Tool Painting!

When my family moved from our large house with a big yard into our compact downtown apartment a couple years ago, we all had to make sacrifices. My 12-year-old daughter had to pare down her toys, which she did by saying, "Get rid of all of them." I had built out a spare bedroom into a closet to organize my wife's clothing, which she had fully filled during our 14 years living there. She had a much more difficult time, but finally made the decisions. Me? I had to give up on "at home" storage for preschool supplies and (sniff, sniff) sell off all but a single tool box full of tools.

The good news was that a lot of that stuff found its way to the preschool, especially the no longer wanted toys, but also some of the shoes and accessories, which we still use in our dress-up area, and even many of the power tools.

Humans are driven to use tools to imprint their vision on the world. Almost everything we make or do involves, at some level, a tool, the mastery of which requires practice. In preschool, we need ample opportunity to sort of mess around with a wide variety of tools like wire, scissors, hole punches, hammers, paint brushes, saws, glue guns, pencils, screwdrivers, knives, and paper clips. We need to get our hands on brooms, clothes pins, drills, shovels, rulers, pulleys, trowels, staplers, and rakes. As humans we have being alone and we have talking face-to-face; for everything else we use tools.

If you look deeply into the archives of this blog, you'll find pictures of children as young as 2-years-old using my old power tools. I stopped posting them because it freaked out too many people. I think it's impossible to comprehend through the computer screen the safety measures we take, from an insistence  on proper usage and the wearing of eye protection even if you're just watching, to the creation of safety zones and a one-to-one ratio of hyper-alert parent-teachers to motorized tools. Contrary to the reputation our school has earned for being a rambunctious place, when tools come out, even hand tools like hammer, saws, and drills, our workbench area becomes a place of caution, focus, and deep concentration. This is what happens to most children, even very young ones, when they know they're being entrusted with serious things. 

Lately, however, since I'm no longer using these tools for actually building closets for my wife, I've been willing to experiment a bit with them. For instance, for some time now, we've been replacing the drill bits in the power drills with paint brushes. (Actually, what I do is heavily duct tape a paint brush to a long drill bit making sure to cover the sharp part.) We had long used my small 12-volt drill/screwdriver for this purpose, but now they're getting their hands on the more powerful 18-volt. The only thing you really have to worry about is that there is potential for longer hair to get caught up in the machine, which is what hair ties are for.

A few weeks ago, I hit upon another idea. The power jigsaw is a tool the oldest kids have had the chance to use for cutting wood and PVC pipe, with my hand upon the motor at all times, of course, but until now I've not figured out a way to make myself fully comfortable with putting it into the hands of 2-year-olds. My regular jigsaw is just too much tool for the younger kids, so I found a small, used Black & Decker saw at the Fremont Sunday Market for $8, duct taped a pair of brushes to the blade, using massive amounts of tape to prevent the blade from ever breaking through, and, Voila! we have a jigsaw painter!

Next up: figuring out how to use a circular saw for painting. I can't envision it right now, but there must be a way, right?

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Unknown said...

Brilliant! I'm definitely going to try this with my boys- combining power tools and paint? HEAVEN! Have put a link from my post on tools, hope that's ok?

inertia said...

Maybe you'd be better off looking at an angle grinder - then you could use a big fluffy disc perhaps?

Heidi said...

My kids would love this.

Unknown said...

You are a guinness. Power tools with paint.....awesome.

As far as a power saw. I saw a vision of a small blade, so of it's a 10 inch blade get a 7 inch blade with the finest teeth around 200 plus teeth. I used one for cutting all those card board inserts in the center of the carpet. It looks similar to the ones you used in your sand table.

Anyways, i had several tubes left over and the owner of my kids school asked if i could cut the extra tubes smaller for the kids to use for building Now, in the processes of all the cutting when my saw blade fine teeth worn down really smooth. So you could do the same to wear down the teeth maybe drill holes in the blade and get paint brushes to attach to the saw. Maybe four brushes at ever 45 degrees would balance the blade to give you a electric saw paint brush.

Sorry it's berry hard to describe.

Lisa researching diy for girls said...

Looks like the kids were having a blast!

Unknown said...

Power tools allow humans to perform difficult task easier and accurately. If used correctly, you can professionally complete any project very efficiently and effectively. But I'm amazed for this "The good news was that a lot of that stuff found its way to the preschool, especially the no longer wanted toys, but also some of the shoes and accessories, which we still use in our dress-up area, and even many of the power tools."

John Mcconnell said...

This is gonna be a blast!

Unknown said...

Nice,i just know about your blog painting with power tools ,surely it looks amazing and creative. thanks again for your creativity of sparenparts.