East Bay Man's Mission Is Teaching Carpentry To Children

Good carpentry is all about good planning.

"Measure twice, cut once," is what they say, after all.

Michael Glass' life in carpentry, however, has been anything but planned. And he wouldn't have had it any other way.

"It all kind of just happened," Michael says of how he came to run "Kids Carpentry," an after school program teaching children carpentry for the last 32 years.

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Over the course of 32 years, Michael Glass guesses he has taught carpentry skills to thousands of Bay Area school children.

"It's something special about woodworking and children," Michael says.

Just how unlikely was Michael's career choice? When he graduated college he wanted to be a lawyer. Instead, he stumbled into some carpentry work through a friend. "That first day all I was qualified to do was pull nails," Michael says.


Still, he got better, eventually spending time working in cabinet-making and new home construction. It wasn't until he was offered the chance to take over Kids Carpentry in 1982, though, that Michael discovered his true calling.

He has spent the past three decades running Kids Carpentry, growing the afterschool program along the way. Michael now oversees a stable of four other carpentry instructors, teaching in seven different Bay Area communities.

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Michael teaches children, some as young as 5, the safe use of many types of hammers, saws and drills.

"This being my 32nd year," Michael says, "I am now teaching children of children that I've taught."

During classes the children learn how to safely and effectively uses hammers, saws, and a variety of drills. Using the hand tools the children start by creating a sanding block and spinning top before moving on to more complex projects like birdhouses, boats, and toy catapults.

Some parents, Michael admits, are nervous about their little children handling sharp tools, but Michael says Kids Carpentry's safety record is tremendous. Safety and responsibility are as much a part of the curriculum as sanding and sawing.

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The children's first projects are a sanding block and spinning top, but later progress to building things like birdhouses, boats, and toy catapults.

Michael believes that in today's society, with children spending more and more time engaged by digital devices, the hands-on learning, problem solving, and confidence they gain from carpentry is needed more than ever. "It's a skill they will take them through the rest of their lives," Michael says.

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