Woodworking for Kids
Great Woodworking Ideas for Kids
When I was a kid, the first experience I had working with wood came in my seventh grade woodshop elective. I loved my first taste of woodworking. I dreamed of all sorts of projects I could make. Unfortunately, that would be the last time my academic schedule would allow me the chance to take a shop class. Fast-forward to college and I found myself taking a sculpture class. One of our projects was making a sculpture using a 2 by 4. Luckily for me, my boyfriend was very interested in woodworking at the time and had a band saw and other tools for me to use. My project turned out pretty well and my boyfriend is now my husband. We have two children, and of course they love to do what Daddy does! Kids can do many fun projects using wood and develop a lifelong love of woodcraft. Here are some projects for aspiring woodworkers of all ages! And be sure to share your favorite projects in the comments area below!
As I mentioned above, I didn't work with wood at all until my wood shop class in middle school. I wonder if this is pretty average, or was I way behind the curve? Take this quick poll to see where you fall in with other visiters to this lens.
When did you first start woodworking?
Projects for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners
Kids at this age take great pride in their work!
While power tools are a ways off for kids in the preschool to kindergarten age range, sanding and painting are perfect tasks to get them interested in creating wooden works of art.
The very first wood project my daughter, at age three, made with me was using watercolors to paint a wooden letter "G" that we picked up at JoAnns. The letter was already nice and smooth and had a coat of white paint over all the sides. My daughter loved the colorful letter and beamed each time she seen it hanging on her wall. Later that year, with Daddy's help she sanded a wooden box and painted it with glitter paint to give to me for Mother's Day. The next year, when she was four, she sanded and painted a preassembled bird house and glued wooden letters to spell my name.
This is a good age to teach some basic safety rules as well. Getting a pair of safety glasses with adjustable ear pieces is handy to keep the dust out of their eyes while sanding and gets them in good habits for when they are older. My daughter always makes sure Daddy wears his glasses, too!
A simple wooden box is a great project to hone those sanding and painting skills, and it makes for a great gift, too!
Pre-K and Kindergarten Woodworking Essentials
Safety glasses keep the saw dust out of you child's eyes and gets them in the habit of using them every time they are working with wood. I couldn't find the child sized glasses locally, but amazon does carry them.
These little bird houses are great to sand and paint. Your budding artist will love painting this up for the birdies!
Projects for First and Second Graders
It's Hammer Time...
My daughter is now going into the first grade and is interested in taking on more complex projects. Her sanding and painting skills have improved and she has more strength now in her arms. She is also better about following rules now. I feel she is ready to learn to hammer nails in place and use a strait pull saw. This is where it pays to have been teaching safety all along.
For hammering practice, if you have a tree stump in your yard, you can use that to teach your kid how to hammer safely. I find that drilling some pilot holes into the stump makes it easier to get the hang of hammering the nails in. Have your child put the empty hand behind their back while they are hammering so they don't hammer their fingers. I, too, should stick to this advice since I have smashed a finger or two. The same rule goes for sawing. Either both hands on the handle or the non-saw holding hand behind the back.
Once these skills have been honed on the tree stump and scrap wood, your child is ready to try a simple project using their new skills. Building a simple birdhouse like the one found here is a good project to try. This particular project is relatively forgiving, and with the exception of the few holes which need drilling can mainly be completed by the child. Of course, an adult must supervise the child at all times! Supervision is not something that they grow out of until they are themselves adults.
First and Second Grade Woodworking Essentials
This great little saw is perfect for beginners, but will become your favorite saw too. It is sharp, so don't think this a toy. But with your supervision, your little woodworker will gain confidence in their abilities with this pull saw.
These nails have a big head, so they are easier for you inexperienced woodworker to hit.
Don't be tempted to get a "child's hammer." Those small hammers make nailing in nails hard work, even for an adult. Don't take my word for it; try nailing a nail with one sometime. This one pound hammer will be awkward at first, but with a little practice your woodworker will soon be hammering away.
A bird house kit is a good project to put those new hammering skills to use.
Once your kids have the "woodworking bug" you will need more projects to satisfy their woodworking fix. These are neat projects that will interest your budding woodworker.
Upper Elementary Age Projects
By now your child has mastered hammering nails and making strait cuts, and is probably eyeing more complex projects. This is the time to introduce the coping saw. With a coping saw and some thin wood your child can use their imaginations to design wooden Christmas ornaments, picture frames and more. To teach your kid how to make a cut out design in the middle of their work, as needed for the picture frame, have them use a hammer and nail to create a hole in the center area which will be cut out. They can then detach one end of the blade and thread it through the hole and reattach it to the saw. Once the center area is cut out detach the blad once again to remove the saw.
At this age once you give them a few ideas for the projects they can make, you can let them come up with their own ideas. You may be surprised with what they design! Some of their designs may end up as failures. Be sure to encourage them to keep trying with a different design. Sometimes they just get so excited with their designs that they overcomplicate them.
Woodworking Essentials for Older Elementary Age Kids
I still remember the first project I made using a coping saw - a duck corner shelf. I loved making all the curved cuts!
I needed a few replacement blades at first while I got the hang of things!
This is a really cool book for kids to do with their parent. If your young woodworker is yearning for more projects than this book will be a great gift!
These are great for practicing and making simple projects. If you already have a nice scrap wood pile to raid, then use that!
These are really thin, but may make for an interesting project. They are designed to be used in scrap books, so they may make for a great gift for a scrap-booking relative!
These sights offer free projects suitable for children
- Ana White | Build a Kids Kit Project: $2 Birdhouse | Free and Easy DIY Project and Furniture Plans
Free plans to build a birdhouse from Ana-White.com...
- Kid's Woodworking Project: A Small Bench
A simple but sturdy bench or stepstool, from the students of the Clear Spring School...
- A Bandsaw box KIDS can make
I've tried all sorts of box projects with kids. Some are pretty good, some not. What most kids want is a small box with drawers in it. The bandsaw is ...