Boys are often fond of stilt-walking as well as carpentering. It may not therefore be out of place to give a ready means of making a pair of stilts. English boys go in for this as a matter of amusement, and not as a matter of necessity. In some countries, however, it becomes a matter of necessity that children should be taught to walk on stilts. The ground is sandy, and streams have to be forded, and to manage stilts skilfully is a necessary qualification to get about from place to place. We should think it rather curious to have to mount the roof of our house, or even the roof of a stable to get on to stilts, but the inhabitants of the "Landes of Gascony" do this frequently in the morning, and do not quit the stilts till night.
Fig. 13. - Oilstone, box and cover.
The most daring piece of stilt-walking is probably that of the Yankee who some years ago crossed the Rapids of Niagara by this method of walking.
A pair of stilts for learning on is easily made. Select a pair of uprights of whatever length you require, strong enough to bear your weight, and as light as is consistent with strength. Plane them up with the trying-plane, then you must fix on the places for the foot-pieces. For a beginner these must not be more than 12 or 14 inches above ground, and the upright must be long enough for you to have a good handhold. When you get more expert the foot-pieces can be placed higher up, and at last perhaps so high up that you can venture to leave your hands free, and only need the end to be strapped firmly to the leg, as far as the thigh in the first instance; after "the practice that makes perfect" only perhaps as far as the knee.
Fig. 14. - Stilts, showing foot plates and uprights.
The foot-pieces must be made of stout tough wood, cut somewhat in the sh::pe of those in Fig. 14. Smooth them up by planing, then get some strong screws, and put thorn on, in the manner shown in Fig. 14, a. In boring the holes be careful not to split the wood, or it will be so weakened as perhaps to be useless Some prefer a loose piece of leather strap nailed across the foot-piece something like the top of a stirrup, but this we leave to you to do as you like about.
Many useful and ornamental articles can be made by carrying out the simple rules we have given in this chapter, such as sets of shelves for books or natural history specimens, frames for drawers, and even drawers themselves. The articles herein mentioned are however better made when you can make dove-tail and other joints which we intend to describe in a later chapter.
We urge again, that although this work is done as recreation, it is no reason why it should not be well done. Your hand and eye will both be the better trained by careful than by careless work. Work nicely finished off, no matter how simple its character, is always creditable, and is worth looking at, while careless work never can be looked upon with pleasure.