Generous hearts and borrowed tools…

Posted by Ryans Dad on 7th November 2009

Tools of the trade - circular sawHaving the right tools really does make a difference. Up until this point Ryan and I have been doing most all of the work on producing these sets of Easy Builder building blocks by hand. Starting with 2x2x8 white pine boards I have been cutting the wood with a handheld electric circular saw. The cutting is at times a bit imprecise depending on a steady hand. The smallest blocks are the trickiest to cut accurately and consistently. I’ve been getting better at it though.

After the blocks are all cut to size Ryan and I forge ahead with sanding the sharp and slivered cut edges to be sure no one will get hurt. This has been a process of sanding by hand with sanding blocks or sandpaper. By far the least fun of all the steps to the production process. After sanding is completed we paint the blocks with cans of spray paint of various colors depending on the orders we are filling at the time. All in all a labor intensive process but one which yields a nice product in the end.

Enter some friends with generous hearts… Learning about Ryan’s business and our tools of choice to date, my friends the Johnson’s made a generous offer of tools. Today we visited the Johnson’s home and picked up a chop saw and a couple of palm sanders to try out. Niiiiice!! Ohh, these make such a difference! Thank you to the Johnson’s!!!

Ryan and I immediately gave the sanders a go. Ryan is a bit skittish with the noise from these (or any power tool), so he’s not so sure they are for him. That is OK really. I’d be just as happy if he is not trying to much with power tools just yet. But Ryan did very quickly come up with a distribution of duties which allows me to use the sanders on some parts of the work while leaving other parts of the sanding for his doing.

The saw of course is off limits for Ryan and he is perfectly fine with that. I am delighted though in that this will make things much more efficient as well as accurate in the end. These tools are borrowed so this is a temporary solution, but they will be a great help to our production capabilities. A critical need right now with a special event we have in the works. More on that as soon as some details are worked out.

Stay tuned!

Categories: Easy Builders

Let’s make more building blocks and make it a business!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 27th September 2009

After seeing how much his brother Collin was enjoying the wood blocks he had given him, Ryan decided that lots of kids would have fun playing with these blocks. Plus, we still have some more of that scrap wood in the garage. So…

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

What started as a present for his brother has now become a project for more kids. Over the course of maybe 24 hours Ryan decided that it would be fun to make more sets of blocks for other kids. Along with that he has decided he wants to sell them and start a business.

I honestly believe that his motivation for creating a business for himself isn’t really tied to making money. He has said more than once that the best part of this will be helping other kids have fun. He’s excited about making these blocks and seeing others play with them and have fun.

I think his interest in creating a business for himself stems from an experience from earlier this summer where he and Collin set up a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time with that. We made and posted signs, set up the lemonade stand and took good care of customers. I think he really enjoyed that and sees this as another chance to have that kind of fun.

When new ideas such as this come flowing from either of our boys I try very hard to keep an open mind. Is this idea in any way unreasonable or even dangerous? If not, can we actually make it happen and could we learn from it? This one seems manageable, could be fun and could be a learning experience. So why not?

So with an affirmative response from Dad, Ryan could not get me to cut more wood blocks fast enough! Looks like it is back to the circular saw for me.

Categories: Easy Builders

From scrap wood comes an idea

Posted by Ryans Dad on 26th September 2009

It was some scrap wood and another project that brought the idea for Ryan. Let’s make some building blocks for kids to play with!

Ryan's inspiration project

Ryan with his "bed for stuffed animals" in progress.

The project of the day was one of building a bed for Ryan’s stuffed animals. I had some scrap wood in the garage from a previous home improvement project and Ryan thought it was perfect to use to build a bed.

As I was cutting the pieces of wood to size with an old circular saw, Ryan noticed the pieces that were dropping to the floor. After pondering them a bit he picked up a few and said, “These would be good for building blocks Dad! Can I make some?” That was simple enough to do so why not?

He gathered together a group of 8 or 10 wood blocks of different sizes and called them a set. With a little sanding on the edges to take off some frayed sliver edges, he had some new toys.

It was at this point that he surprised me by saying he wanted to give this set of blocks to his little brother Collin as a present. Once again, why not? So off he went to find some wrapping paper, scissors and tape to “make the present”. Getting all of this pulled together with barely a minute to spare, he was able to give Collin his present just before bedtime.

Collin was delighted in receiving a present from his big brother and a hand-made one to boot! The smile on his face beamed and he set out to play at once (in spite of the looming bedtime routine). I must say that this father had a pretty good smile on his face as well, enjoying one son giving so happily to his brother and the younger enjoying the gift so enthusiastically.

This is a great way to end your day!

Categories: Easy Builders