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Woodworking Projects for Kids: Free Online Resources

woodworking for kids

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:

Tips for buying woodworking tools and hardware:

  1. 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…).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Craigslist is a good place to look for free materials.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

woodworking with kids


[Image: woodleywonderworks]

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33 Responses to Woodworking Projects for Kids: Free Online Resources

  1. Don’t buy cheap tools. I wish I could drive that through my head. I always want to walk out without spending a bunch of money, but it usually bites me in the butt. Spend what you should spend even if it is a little extra than you would like – it keeps you from having to spend even more later on.

    • Derek Markham says:

      Christopher –

      I had the highly educational experience of blowing an entire tax return at a discount imported tools store one year. I walked out with mad amounts of stuff, and spent almost $500 there, thinking I was getting a great setup for myself.

      After a short while, I realized that not only were the tools cheaply made and poorly machined, but that I had bought a whole bunch of ‘short cuts’ and specialized tools that I didn’t use or need very often at all. I would have been much further ahead to have picked up a lot fewer, less specialized tools that were well made. For example, I have a set of about 20 different woodcarving tools – chisels and gouges – that I never use because they’re cheap and frustrating to work with. I would always rather use one of the old chisels that I found in a flea market, because they’re well made and well worked and easy to sharpen again and again.

      Now I never buy the high end tools (but drool over them sometimes), and I never buy the cheapest ones – a good solid practical tool is worth so much more than a gimmicky gadget every single time.

    • Racheal says:

      I agree cheap always sounds good at the time, it’s true what they say “cheap and nasty”. It does pay to spend a bit more and get quality tools that will make your woodworking job a lot easier:

  2. Shannon says:

    Another great source for woodscraps.. or even ideas for projects are Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores. There are lots around my area, not sure about the rest of the country though.
    I am amazed at the things my little boy can make himself; it’s such a cool way for him to learn physics (among other things). But two nights ago he build a tipi-like house out of old cedar shank shingles (N.England thing) by perfectly balancing different sizes and shapes of wood. I SO wanted a picture but the light wasn’t very good.
    He builds lots of little things for the house with his dad (I am not such a woodworker) but dad’s skills are rubbing off on him so quickly.
    We get the benefit of him feeling very special and we get great things for round the house!
    (PS I don’t have a daughter, but I assure you, if I did (and she wanted) she’d be doing these things with dad too! My high school woodwork teacher was a woman!)
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..What’s Happening Wednesday =-.

  3. Todd says:

    One easy suggestion to do with kids is to do simple wood sculptures. Find some scrap wood at a local lumber yard. Or find some of the local handymen and see if they have some scraps. The cool thing is kids will see the various sizes and shapes from the scrapes and explore to see how the shapes will interact with one another.
    .-= Todd´s last blog ..Where To Get The Best Cradle Plans Online =-.

  4. Tina says:

    What a great way for children to experiment with something that may turn into a lifetime hobby. I would think that storage boxes would be an easy place to start. And they’d be so useful!
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..Fast Power Wheels? You Betcha! =-.

  5. Great post. We homeschooled all three of our children and loved doing things together. Woodworking was one of those things. Thanks.

  6. Jack says:

    Building wooden projects with kids has definitely been a fun and rewarding experience for me and my nephews. Its a great pastime for bonding with them, and when they use their imagination you can get some pretty cool results.

    Thanks for the great tips Derek!

  7. el says:

    i totally agree about not buying cheap tools, when i first started woodworking i didnt listen to my dear husband and bought good tools i would have saved alot of money and alot of grief. thank you for letting people know hopefully they make that mistake
    el

  8. Hey I saw that you wrote this a while back, but lot’s of good info – I’d like to share that I tend to be able to find a lot of good wood scraps by talking to friends and relatives. It seems like there is always at least one person that has some materials they are trying to get rid of or don’t need. They will often give stuff away or sell for really cheap. In my own family, my gramps has a lot of wood scraps that he keeps for some reason, but he’ll pretty much always just give it away if somebody asks about it

  9. Su@ abs belt says:

    Thanks for your post. It goes along with how I have been thinking that we buy to many pre made toys these days. Half the fun is in the actual building or making of your project. From an early age my son has loved picking up a saw or a hammer, how else are they going to learn if they don’t get “hands on”.

  10. Josh says:

    Thank you… I have to say the Step By Step PDF is great.

  11. I think this a good opportunity for kids to stimulate their cognitive skills and have a bonding moment with their parents. Parents should guide their kids closely to avoid accidents.

  12. Rob Walker says:

    It’s a great idea indeed to get kids started on woodworking as a hobby, it will definitely teach them to be really skillfull with their hands. Woodworking requires a lot of discipline in my opinion so this may be a good way to instill it in the little ones.

  13. mikelis says:

    I suggest you should introduce your kids with playdough! It is safe and edible, easy to make at home and children spend houns and hours expressing their imagination!

  14. Woody Smith says:

    This is a really great list of woodworking resources you have provided here. Great work!

    I agree, getting kids into woodworking is way better than having them sit in front of the TV or computer all day. It’s a skill that they can develop and use for the rest of their life.

    I sure enjoyed woodworking with my Dad, and I hope to pass on this skill to my sun.

    I’m looking forward to checking out some of these resources and seeing if we can’t get some more of this into the home school curriculum here!

    Thanks for the list.

  15. Mike Catron says:

    Good Resource list that you have here. I remember the first project that I did with one of my son’s when he was 8 years old.
    We built a bird house and he was so excited that Dad wanted to help him build something that he had ask about several times. I have to say that we had a blast building that little simple bird house and he really did a good job on it. After that it was hard to keep him out of the shop even when I was building costume projects for customers. But, I usually let him help me do some sanding or something that was simple. Anyway he is 20 now and he still does woodworking when he wants to build something.

  16. You’re absolutely correct. A woodworking project is a great way for families to spend some time together and learn how to work as a team. Remember to plan ahead and make sure you have all materials to hand, particularly if you’re working with very young children. They get bored easily so any breaks in the project could find them wandering off to something else. You don’t want that, especially on your first project.

  17. This is a great list of suggestions. Kids love to do stuff with their parents and their peers.

  18. Pippa says:

    Awesome site – thank you so much. Does anyone have any good tips on how to teach kids to use a saw safely? My grandpa always taught me to rest the side of the blade on my thumb and tuck my fingers out the way that way, but I get the heebijeebies when I see a saw near my 8 year old’s pinky…

  19. Kobus Botha says:

    Ever wanted to create woodworking projects easily and quickly? Then a visit to Woodshop Projects Review is a must for an uncensored review of this field.

  20. Brenda says:

    Great article, many thanks for the very useful online resources list and the tips !

  21. tim says:

    I sell boxes of scrap
    wood mostly hard woods
    misc sizes
    only 3.00 per boxs

    K_boltz2@comcast.net

  22. hey

    glad i ran across this site. i really have been looking for ways to teach my son about some easy beginner type woodworking projects or find some easy plans for us to do together. this helped quite a bit

    thanks,
    nate

  23. Poppa says:

    Thanks for sharing the birdhouse plans. I especially like the one plan set on how to build the birdhouse out of one 6′ long 1×6. I intend to build one with my grandaughter this weekend. Thanks!!!

  24. Joel Studebaker says:

    I’m looking forward to using this site for future woodworking projects with my grandchildren. I respectfully submit that the child using the drill press in the picture at the top should be wearing safety glasses.

  25. Jeff Heath says:

    Impress your friends and neighbors with really stunning and functional completed woodworking projects. Your secret will be step by step woodworking projects and plans from the web. Get your Kids and family members involved, it is priceless…

  26. Jim Roberts says:

    Not necessarily for kids, here’s a link to a page where I reference a few more sources of free plans that aren’t already on your list:
    http://jetwoodworkingtools.net/woodworking-info/easy-woodworking-projects

    cheers,
    Jim

  27. Ron White says:

    Woodworking is a great hobby for kids as it teaches them to use their hands and also to think about what they are doing. They should be started off with projects that will grab their attention as well as teach them the basics that they will need to move on to more complicated projects.

  28. Lukas Blakk says:

    This is an excellent list of resources, thank you! I’m just about to kick off some woodworking with a 4 year old as I am also trying to teach myself. My mom was a cabinet maker when I was a kid and I remember fondly making my own easel and a few other small projects so I’m looking forward to passing that on. Can’t wait to try some of the things here.

    Just so you know, the link to the I Can Do That pdf has changed and it’s now located here: http://d2amilv9vi9flo.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ICDTBookHiResJune10.pdf

  29. Deaf Scouter says:

    Nowadays its so hard to find child sized tools that work well. Bought Lowes Junior Hacksaw for Cub Scout Pinewood car making but found the height and type of blade flexes during cutting. Have a Stanley Junior crosscut saw that came in my son’s tool kit back in the early ’90′s that I’m hard pressed to find. Would like to buy at least 10 of these kinds of saw for future use since we can’t use any kind of power tools like scroll saw or drill press. Anyone know where I can buy a 10 inch child sized crosscut/wood saw please?

  30. Paul says:

    Great resource page!! Can’t tell you how much I agree about the cheap tools.

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