Woodworking projects for kids: woodworking with your children teaches basic skills for planning, measuring, and the use of basic carpentry tools.
Kids love to make things.
My daughter is always asking me “Papa, what can we make? Let’s do a project together.” And woodworking is our usual mode for making things.
Messing about with wood is one of my favorite hobbies. I learned the basics by working with and watching other men build, but even if you’ve never built anything in your life, you and your kids can do homeschool woodworking projects together.
Here’s a list of free online woodworking resources to get you started:
Online Resources for Woodworking Projects with Children:
- The Folding Rule, an online journal about woodworking in a garage shop, has a post about kids in the shop. Also available are downloads for a bird house plan, a wood buying guide, and Boy Scout woodworking merit badge requirements.
- Popular Woodworking’s I Can Do That (PDF)
- Charles Niel made a video about introducing kids to woodworking called UnPlug the Kids
- Woodworkers Resource’s book with 21 woodworking lessons and 14 projects for kids: Woodshop 101 for Kids
- A Basic List of Hand Tools Needed For Kids to Get Started in Woodworking
- Plans for a small bat house from the USGS
- The Wood Whisperer’s Basic Hand Tools videos on 5min.com
- Using-Tools is a great basic resource for info about, what else, using tools.
- Nathan Scott’s page about how to use hand tools
- Canadian Home Workshop: Introducing Children to Woodworking Fun
- For Wood Lovers: Basic Wooden Box Basic butt joint box guide
- Free woodworking plans
- the3House.com has free plans
- Jack McKee’s Hands On Books: Woodshop for Kids
- Absolutely Free Plans: Projects for Children
- Woodworking tips from KidsCanMakeIt.com
- GiftPlum’s Ultimate DIY Woodworking Guide
- Building your home hand tool kit
- How To Dominate Your Son’s Pinewood Derby: Wired
- How To Make Beginner Stilts
- How To Build an Amazing Ant Farm
- azWoodman sells woodcraft kits for kids: My First Project
Tips for buying woodworking tools and hardware:
- Don’t buy cheap tools. Ever. You’ll regret it. You don’t need the top of the line tools, but you will end up replacing a cheap tool soon. Buy quality tools that feel good in your hand. Ask at your local hardware store for guidance, ’cause there’s a lot of crap for sale out there. Stay away from “kid’s tools”, as they will frustrate the heck out your child (try driving a nail, even a tiny one, with an itty-bitty hammer…).
- Yard sales are awesome for finding good tools at a reasonable price. Look for an old guy in a baseball hat cleaning out his shop. Tell him you’re setting up a shop for your kids, and he’ll probably hook you up.
- Only get the basic tools. Most shop gadgets that you see at the big box stores are gimmicks. You don’t need a laser level to build a bird house.
- Buy an assortment of nails, especially “box” nails with a big head. Smaller finish nails and brads are for when kids can comfortably drive box nails consistently.
- A drill and driver will speed up large projects by enabling you to drill pilot holes and sink screws quickly. Kids get a kick out of using power tools, and you won’t spend all weekend on one project.
- Drywall screws are great for fastening wood together quickly and securely. Get a couple of different sizes. Deck screws go in fast, but can strip out the hole too easily.
- Clamps are handy, but not a necessity. An old bicycle tube can be cut and wrapped like a huge rubber band to hold parts being glued together.
Tips for finding cheap wood for projects:
- Cruise the cull bin at the hardware store. The culls are the cut-offs and the wood with bigger knotholes or splits. The big home supply store by my house usually has a bunch of random pieces for fifty cents each.
- Craigslist is a good place to look for free materials.
- Find a cabinet shop and ask about raiding their scrap dumpster. Last fall I found enough cherry, walnut, and oak scraps for a year’s worth of little projects.
- Swing by a building site with your kids at quitting time. Most foremen will let you pick through the scraps if you ask. If you get a lot of good stuff, bring a six-pack by the next day to say thanks.
- Pallets can be cut with a circular saw to get short pieces. Run the blade alongside the stringer to cut them all the same length. If you’ve got time and a crowbar, you can pry them apart to get longer pieces.