Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Making Stuff at Lee Valley Tools

Some of my favourite time spent with my daughter, Lena, is making stuff with her, whether pyrohy for Christmas dinner, putting together K'nex, or working away in my shop.  This past year, Lee Valley Tools, purveyor of, among other things, fine woodworking and gardening tools, has put on a number of seminars that provide opportunities for children and their parents work on a project together.  The cost is nominal at around $35 and all the materials are supplied, as are two Lee Valley staff members to guide the participants.  I can't imagine the company makes much, if any, money off these seminars but they do build a lot of good will and generate a lot of enthusiasm for woodworking and gardening, ensuring a loyal current and future client base.

Lena and I attended our third parent/child workshop this past weekend where we (well, really she) made a Christmas stocking hanger.  This was a little less a woodworking project than a decorative painting project.  All the wood was pre-cut and the knobs for hanging the stockings were supplied as was the milk paint with which to decorate all the parts and all the parts were assembled after they were decorated.

The two staff members, Mick and Brian, were very efficient and helpful, especially after Lena and I realized right near the end that she had decorated her piece upside down.  Both the guys sprung into action, redrilled some holes. used a heat gun to dry some paint and we were back in action.  In the end, we ended up with a beautiful project that Lena will hopefully have to hang her kids' stockings on.

Lena painting the knobs for her stocking hanger.

Lena showing off the final product.

As I said, this was the third project we did at Lee Valley.  The first two, a tool box and a bird feeder, were actual woodworking projects.  All the components were ripped to the proper width and rough cut to the approximate length.  The kids had to do all the measuring, lay-out, hand-sawing and assembly according to the provided plan on their own (with the occasional assist from the seminar leaders or mom or dad).  The projects are useful and provide the kids with an opportunity to try their hand at a practical craft, develop manual skills and provide them with a real tangible sense of accomplishment when they finish the project while hopefully building a lifetime love of craft in these young people.

Lena's previous two projects from Lee Valley seminars - a toolbox and bird feeder.

As always, hats off to the folks at the Ottawa location of Lee Valley for a job well done.


  1. Replies
    1. You have no idea how much love this time with our little girl. It's a lot of fun and Lee Valley is just a great operation - really dedicated to their customers. A model for all retail operations.

  2. Wow! I *love* the stocking holder - Lena did such a great job! BTW, I think Lee Valley should be giving you free registration for such a nice blog post (seriously!). :-)

    1. As always, you are very generous, Sonia. Don't think it would be worth Lee Valley's while to give me a free registration since my readership, I think, is limited to you, Karen (see comment above) and Kate. Plus, as I say, I suspect they price these events at roughly the break-even point and they do them so well. I do love the company - they are a model of building loyalty by treating their customers with respect. On two occasions, staff tried talking me out of buying their products because they didn't think I needed them. Who does that?

  3. Hi, what age do the kids typically need to be to attend these workshops? What a great idea!

    1. They have been excellent. To tell the truth, I don't remember how old the kids are. My daughter was 10 when we did our first and she was neither the youngest nor the oldest. But, at the Ottawa location, at least, we haven't seen them offering any other parent-child workshops since I posted this in November 2014 and I have been keeping my eye out.

  4. Hi, what age do the kids typically need to be to attend these workshops? What a great idea!