If you are a parent, you have likely experienced the great joys of doing projects with your kids. I still remember lessons I learned from my dad (how to swing a hammer, how to properly stroke a cross-cut saw through wood, power tool safety) and I count the many projects and hobbies I did with my son as some of the most gratifying moments of my life.
Everything I remember about being a kid working with my dad and being a dad teaching my kid are captured in the wonderful, often touching, sometimes very funny series, Vance Maker, that YouTuber Tim Sway does with his 6 year old son, Vance. The distracted kid, the mildly frustrated parent, the breakthrough teaching moments, the truly hysterical moments, the fun, the challenges, the pride in a job well done and a skill and a sense of empowerment passed down to a child — it’s all beautifully on exhibit here.
Watching this series, I couldn’t help by wish that I could turn back the clock and be doing such projects again with my now-grown son. If you have a young son or daughter, maybe this series will motivate you to do more making with them.
After Chris Cute of Make the First Cut visits Tim and Vance in their shop and brings Vance a toolbox he made for him, along with a vintage block plane, Tim explains the tool to Vance and shows him how it works.
In this episode, Tim and Vance turn some pens on a lathe for Mother’s Day. Tim had been given a mandrel and some pen kits and so he decided to create some custom pens with Vance. Granddad also gets in on the action, making a wooden pen box and pen for grandma. There are so many “kids say the darnedest things” moments with Vance. I love, on this video, when Tim asks him (before switching on the lathe): “What’s the most important thing to always remember?,” and Vance replies: “Always stay hydrated?”
In this video, Vance and Tim make T-shirts with the Vance Maker logo. To create the shirts, they first draw the design on a piece of wood, cut it out on a bandsaw, and then use a drill press to press the inked designs into the shirts. In a playful bit of YouTube rivalry, Vance and Tim add the Vance Maker “V” on top of a bunch of other YouTuber’s T-shirt logos while Vance cracks dad up with some unrehearsed trash-talking. The drill press they use was Vance’s great grandfather’s, making Vance the 4th generation to use the tool.
After a visit to Jimmy DiResta’s shop in NYC, Tim returns with some really cool presents that Jimmy gave Vance (what a mensch, that guy!). To say thanks, Vance creates a thank you note out of wood, using a trick that Jimmy has demonstrated in one of his videos (spraying paint into routed lettering and then sanding the surface of the board to easily create perfectly painted letters).
Vance is getting popular enough on YouTube that he is starting to gather a fanbase, too. In this adorable video, YouTuber Richard Martin questions his young daughter, Poppy, on who her favorite maker is. Guess who?