I got an email recently asking about the image atop my Facebook page (and above), a young girl planing at a workbench. It’s from a 1918 booklet, “A Catalogue of Play Equipment,” by Jean Lee Hunt; it was published by the New York Bureau of Educational Experiments.
I’ve copied below the (out-of-copyright) text that accompanies the image, but the booklet is well worth paging through in its entirety (there are some adorable animal-themed pull toys) if for no other reason than to marvel at the comparison to today’s play equipment and safety regulations. You’ll find it here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/28466/28466-h/28466-h.htm
THE CARPENTER BENCH
The carpenter equipment must be a “sure-enough business affair,” and the tools real tools – not toys.
The Sheldon bench shown here is a real bench in every particular except size. The tool list is as follows:
Manual training hammer.
18 point cross-cut saw.
9 point rip saw.
Large screw driver, wooden handle.
Small screw driver.
Stanley smooth-plane, No. 3.
Brace and set of twist bits.
Manual training rule.
Utility box–with assorted nails, screws, etc.
Combination India oil stone.
Choice of lumber must be determined partly by the viewpoint of the adult concerned, largely by the laboratory budget, and finally by the supply locally available. Excellent results have sometimes been achieved where only boxes from the grocery and left-over pieces from the carpenter shop have been provided. Such rough lumber affords good experience in manipulation, and its use may help to establish habits of adapting materials as we find them to the purposes we have in hand. This is the natural attack of childhood, and it should be fostered, for children can lose it and come to feel that specially prepared materials are essential, and a consequent limitation to ingenuity and initiative can thus be established.
On the other hand, some projects and certain stages of experience are best served by a supply of good regulation stock. Boards of soft pine, white wood, bass wood, or cypress in thicknesses of ¼”, 3/8″, ½” and 7/8″ are especially well adapted for children’s work, and “stock strips” ¼” and ½” thick and 2″ and 3″ wide lend themselves to many purposes.