Handy Dad

Handy Dad

25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids

by Todd Davis
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Trade Paperback, 168 pages
Price: $24.95

Most of the projects in this book aren't useful. In fact, none of them are (except the treasure chest if you're a pirate, or the rope bridge if you live near rivers of lava), which is exactly their appeal. Todd Davis (ex-extreme sports record breaker, ex-stuntman, non-ex-landscape building and landscape design artist) grew up making stuff with his dad—or alone so his dad could sleep—and credits much of his adult success to this youthful creativity and craftsmanship.

If you've never picked up a hammer before, that's okay. You might have sore fingers for a while, but Davis' instructions are thorough and the entire text is profusely illustrated with full-color photographs and illustrations so you know exactly what you're supposed to be doing. But even if your first projects don't turn out exactly the way they're supposed to, the real value is in spending time with your kids, fostering their imaginations, and just plain getting dirty and sawing some boards instead of vegging in front of the TV.

Pretty much every interest is represented. There are plans for building a dollhouse, a skate longboard, a zipline, angel wings, and an abominable snowman stunt dummy. And the perennial favorites: a slingshot, a go-cart, and a water-powered bottle rocket. Once you get the hang of working with wood and metal and rope (and you will in short order if you follow these designs) you can make modifcations of your own and experiment, expanding your kids' (and your own) creativity even further.

It's kind of sad that we need books like this. But in an electronic- and entertainment-driven society, building things (especially things that are actually cool, and not just cute figurines to decorate mom's shelves) is an increasingly lost art. Todd Davis knows what he's doing, and what's better, his enthusiasm is both inspiring and instructive. Even if your kids aren't the next extreme sports stars, building a bike ramp with them isn't just fun, it's a way for dads to recapture childhood and for kids to make the most of their own.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Summary: Detailed plans for a number of fun construction projects for dads and kids to build together.

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