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Tools for a Child to do Stonemasonry/carve rocks/have fun chiseling at them?

 
master steward
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We were watching the stonemasonry video in this thread (https://permies.com/t/86990/art/Mastercrafts), and my four year old was really into it. He also has a lot of destructive energy, and I know I loved smashing rocks with hammers as a child, and I thought it might be even more fun to give him a small chisel and mallet (and goggles, of course!). Is this a good or bad idea? Are there child sized mallets and chisels for working in stone? I found some for working in wood (here's some from Lee Valley
) but I'm assuming they wouldn't stand up to working with stone, right?

I have NO experience with stone masonry--does anyone on permies have any ideas?

Thanks!
 
master pollinator
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At that age one of the best things you can do is to just get them into Geology which will carry over into a love of stonework, and we have done this with our kids in a variety of ways.

One tool you can purchase is a stone polisher at harbor Freight, only because they are so cheap there, and let's be honest, a child is into one thing, and then out of it the next, and harbor Freight tools are cheap, but not exactly the kind you buy for life. Still the transformation from nasty ole rock found on the shore to polished rock is an amazing transformation.


Another thing we have done was, bought Geode stones, and then unbeknownst to them, I went out in the woods and scattered them around a large bounder on our farm, and then snuck back, and THEN went on a family hike with wife and kids in tow. Naturally we "found" the geodes and cracked them open with a hammer with great delight from the kids. Yes I might have "salted the mine" so to speak, but we were out as a family, out in the woods, and discovering geology. What is not to love.


Another thing to consider is the fun use of slate. Home Depot carries it and it splits very easily by its nature. I have a natural slate quarry and have made bookends and other products from it. Slate is a great building block for kids because it splits so easily (no frustration) and they can build various things from it like bookends. It also can be glued together quite easily, and polishes easily with even the cheapest diamond grinding disks.


Another thing to consider is buying granite or marble tiles from Home Depot and using a grinder with a diamond cutting wheel to make trivets for hot food on the kitchen table. Try cutting the stone into your states shape and glue cork disks on the bottom to keep the stone from resting directly on the wooden table to hold hot dishes. Still, watching you do this with the kids is a great way to show that stone work can be handy around the house in even small ways.


Another way is to incoporate stone work in their toys such as barns or dollhouses. I had a barn growing up where broken pieces of slate made it look like the bottom part of the barn was hand-laid stonework as in a good old fashioned New England barn basement. My sisters barbie doll house had the same thing for her fireplace and chimney, not to mention a slate roof. Incorporating stonework in their toys like this shows thenm that stonework can be a huge part of real life.

Rocks and Minerals for Children
 
pollinator
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Those are all awesome ideas!!

Here are my additional thoughts:

Soapstone is so soft it can be cut and shaped with a saw - many artists "cut their teeth" shaping small sculptures by hand with any old hacksaw/coping saw they can find (no personal experience, just what I've heard)

Another fun task is, if you have a lot of coarse or broken stone laying about, you can build little rock walls(for raised beds, herb spirals, etc.) and have your child fit them all together in their best spots, like a puzzle! This has the dual purpose of getting the work done, and you can teach them about angles, tamping foundation for the first course, weight support and distribution, drainage, etc.

They can usually have fun doing it themselves, learning from their failures, without too much risk in investment or injury.
 
pollinator
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I practice lithic reduction as an art form. Usually I make tools out of flint and sandstone, and smoking pipes out of soapstone. The tools for carving soapstone are rasps, files, woodcarving knives, and sandpaper. If you want to make a hole, standard drill bits at a slow speed will work. Flint knapping is dangerous for kids under a certain age, but you can grind functional axes from sandstone.
 
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I built a massive stone basement over two summers with a guy.  We had a bunch of chisels and stuff to break rocks.  In the end, though, we never really used these tools.  It was far simpler, easier, and better in the end to choose angular stone that suited the particular spot on the wall.  We originally had a dump truck deliver random quarry rock, but so much of the stone had angles that were un-workable, or the stone was simply too large to handle by hand, that we decided to hand select all our stone at the quarry.  We made an arrangement, for the loader operator to be present with the machine, and we would select rocks to go into the bucket, and he would dump it into the dump truck.  This saved a huge amount of headache as we knew that all the stone that was present was workable for the project.  Then when the stone was on site, the real fun part was matching a given space to the stone that would fit it; it's like putting a huge puzzle together.

So my suggestion is to get the child interested in the art of bridging gaps, and building straight usable walls, using stone that has at least two straight-ish pitches forming a 90 degree-ish angle.  From there, any number of a variety of extremely strong structures can be made.

If you are going to get chisels to break rocks, then get the proper stone masonry ones, which are meant only for stone work.  Other chisels are too hard, too soft, or have the wrong taper to their edge.  Gloves are a really good idea.
 
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I spent a good part of my life working stones with a hammer and trowel. If I was going to introduce A child into it . These are the first two tools I’d likely put in there hand other than a shovel .

Estwing  E3-12BL Rock Pick Chisel Edge No End Cap, 12-Ounce https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DT0OZR2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_.K.rBbX37XPZ0

W. Rose RO50-5L 5-Inch x 2-1/2-Inch Pointing Trowel with Leather Handle, Steel Grey/Brown Leather https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O1XK1ZG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_fQ.rBbJ38QD52

A good set if chisels and a hand maul would be next.

           Best of wishes
                  RHFarmtead
 
Russ Herron
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Also let us not forget the importantance of child size (PPE’s) shatter resistant safety glasses, and gloves that fit. Maybe even hearing protection depending on what there beating on or if running any equipment . Teaching our kids now the importance of safety only means they will be safer and that they will carry those lessons on to there friends, family, coworkers and so on in the future .

               Sincerely
                    RHFarmstead
 
Roberto pokachinni
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W. Rose RO50-5L 5-Inch x 2-1/2-Inch Pointing Trowel with Leather Handle, Steel Grey/Brown Leather https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O1XK1ZG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_fQ.rBbJ38QD52

 That Trowel is a work of art !!  I covet. :)
 
Russ Herron
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

W. Rose RO50-5L 5-Inch x 2-1/2-Inch Pointing Trowel with Leather Handle, Steel Grey/Brown Leather https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O1XK1ZG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_fQ.rBbJ38QD52

 That Trowel is a work of art !!  I covet. :)




The little hammer I mentioned in my original response though not as beautiful it just works beautifully for what it was designed to do.  I will always be a big fan of the w.rose line of trowels. I’ve had some of there smallest and some of there biggest and a few in between. I’ve even converted a few into some beautiful spatulas. As my primary profession these days Is as a chef.

       Best of wishes:
               RHFarmstead
 
Nicole Alderman
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Thank you so much, Russ!

Could you tell me a bit about the use of a trowel with stone? I've only ever thought of using them on soil/dirt!

Edit: Ah-ha! It's for spreading mortar! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonry_trowel
) for some reason I saw trowel and thought of handshovel and not the trowel for mortar.

Are there natural mortars that are weather-resistant?
 
Russ Herron
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Nicole Alderman wrote:
Are there natural mortars that are weather-resistant?




Hope this helps

http://www.themudhome.com/mud-as-mortar.html
 
pollinator
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Nicole Alderman wrote:We were watching the stonemasonry video in this thread (https://permies.com/t/86990/art/Mastercrafts), and my four year old was really into it. He also has a lot of destructive energy, and I know I loved smashing rocks with hammers as a child, and I thought it might be even more fun to give him a small chisel and mallet (and goggles, of course!). Is this a good or bad idea? Are there child sized mallets and chisels for working in stone? I found some for working in wood.


This is interesting.  A while ago I wanted to help some friends with young kids (in the 7 to 11 year old range) find online information about introducing kids to tools, and getting started making things (wood and other materials).  I'm tslking about real things, not constructions from blocks or Lego.  I  used the Permies site search and put in the Permies.com site info to Google and added various related  search terms (like "tools" "build" "making" etc.).  I couldn't find anything. ???  Okay, maybe the topic is more represented elsewhere.

My own child is female, and she's now off working in the city.  When she was growing up out here, she wanted to help in the garden and with animals, kitchen stuff... and gravitated strongly to play a keyboard — she now teaches music at an arts school.  I personally helped some teenage guys, sons of friends, to expand their skills with carpentry, but didn't document the process.

There's a tremendous amount of stuff on the internet about all sorts of homesteady topics, but this one of passing on safe use of tools and of building/making skills is way underrepresented, it seems.  I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc but even if I search for stuff about dads teaching these things to sons the online articles and videos seem very, very few.  What gives?  Are there some little-known, hard-to-find sites or threads out there that I just haven't come across?

What do any of you know?
 
Joel Bercardin
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After making the post above quite a few days ago, I thought I’d probably see other Permies posting about how they’ve taught their kids to use tools (for practicality, or for art) — or perhaps some links revealing that there’s actually more videos or text-and-pic pages on the internet about this topic than I’ve thought. I applaud Nicole’s original post in this thread.  But after mine, no further posts.

So I thought I’d offer a suggestion.  My daughter is grown up, so I’m not in a position to develop such vids or pages here on our place.  But since many of you are now raising kids, why not consider doing a vid or two, or an illustrated page or two?  Show how you’re working with your kids to teach safe & effective use of tools to make, build, sculpt, or whatever.
 
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