“Vance Maker” and the Joys of Making with Kids

“Vance Maker” and the Joys of Making with Kids

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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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).

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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?

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
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