kids in the workshop

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Forum topic by mnorusis posted 01-03-2011 05:54 PM 2317 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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157 posts in 4483 days

01-03-2011 05:54 PM

My oldest son (just about 7) has considerable interest in anything having to do with building/putting things together. He is constantly taking things apart in order to turn them into something else, and has shown a ton of interest in woodworking projects. For christmas, he received a “real construction kit” which is actually pretty cool. It comes with a bunch of plastic tools (screwdriver, saws, nails, screws, hammer…even 2 hole saws) and has some foam-type wood that doesn’t shed everywhere when cut with the plastic tools…he played with this for hours on end.

Needless to say, I would really like to figure out some projects to get him into the shop working with “real” tools. I’m certain he will love it and anything that gets us more time together while he still thinks I’m cool is a good thing! I have not yet, but do plan on taking him to the Home Depot workshops for kids.

So, does anyone have any ideas or resources for projects for kids? Anything is welcome, past projects you’ve done, online resources, as well as good old fashioned advice on best ways to go about it.



18 replies so far

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 4395 days

#1 posted 01-03-2011 06:10 PM

Lowes has a bunch of kits and real tools available for kids. I love them, gets them started on learning how to follow directions and put things together.

The tools could hang near yours, imagine how cool he would think that is.

My oldest son got the real tools when he was 7, we have done a bunch of builds at Lowes, but this year, I plan on introducing him to my shop. He will be 9 in Feb.

--, Making design and application one. †

View Paul C.'s profile

Paul C.

154 posts in 4585 days

#2 posted 01-03-2011 06:52 PM

My daughter is 4 1/2, and loves to build “robots” which are really “sculptures” made of wood scraps. she really enjoys it, and it gets her in the shop. She has ASD, so finding projects that hold her interest is tough, but she will work on these for a long time.
It is teaching her patience (which doesn’t come naturally to a child with autism) and teaches me patience as well!

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4535 days

#3 posted 01-03-2011 06:55 PM

I was about to suggest lowes as well. They also sell some kits from those classes that are precut and just require assembly and a few cuts.

Charles Neil did a video on projects with kids as well if you can find that.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View mnorusis's profile


157 posts in 4483 days

#4 posted 01-03-2011 07:11 PM

Thanks for the responses!

I found the Charles Neil video here

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4455 days

#5 posted 01-03-2011 07:37 PM

there is some good sites out on the net and some good books about it too

and as seven years old he is cable of using real handtools if you show him the correct safe way
of using them (my daughter was only four when she learned to use a knife )
so go for it , look thruogh L J there is a ton of blogs about having children in the shop and people post them all the times
but remember children in shop = unplug all powertools they are NO NO´s for children
I´m pretty sure youn will get scared and have to change if he find the green botten on the Ts
interressting and press it when you are looking the other way….LOL

take care

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 5082 days

#6 posted 01-03-2011 08:06 PM

THe kits are cool – but my youngest started working with the scroll saw at 6—> 7 when he was a first grader so we did his pinewood derby car.

He may really take to scrolling out things from parts that are 1/4 inch or even 1/8 plywood so he can modify and make his own design. It is really hard to be hurt with the scroll saw.
My oldest (now 11) and I made the wood magazine ‘Fish Puzzle’ for his kindergarden teacher for christmas back in 2004/5 school year. The pic is of LJ Scott Michael’s version, I didn’t photograph ours back before we gave it to the teacher. We dyed the pieces with Rit dye then sprayed them with shellac.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4220 days

#7 posted 01-03-2011 09:58 PM

Mike- My kids got the same thing for Christmas. They also loved it and spent a lot of time cutting pieces and making things… I wish they would have had that when I was a kid.

My two oldest boys 4 and 6 are always wanting to work with me. I built them each a bird house that they helped with and that seemed to be a good project.

I also built them each a tool tote in which they helped with.

They also LOVE hand planing. I will let them use my block planes on some scrap wood and they seem to really enjoy going to town with that.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4390 days

#8 posted 01-03-2011 11:12 PM

We don’t have any kids yet, but I’d say the obvious, and most important thing is safety. For instance, I learned to shoot at a young age, and was taught to respect the gun and always use it safely, hold ir safely, etc. I think if you can instill that one thing from the beginning, they can learn the actual skills after that. There have to be ground rules in place. For instance, they are never to touch or use any tools while you are not around. And if you are around, they should ask to use a tool, or learn something new.

Let them know that the tools aren’t toys and that they are dangerous. Not that you need to show them pictures of accidents, but don’t sugar coat it either. Make sure they understand there can be consequences involved with tools. Don’t try to scare them, but keep them informed and they will develop that respect for the tools. This, in turn, can be a good learning lesson for areas in life.

I would also say another very important thing is to make sure to set a good example. Get rid of any bad or lazy habits you might have because kids will tend to do exactly as you do, learning by example, so make sure you’re setting a good example.

And whether your kids are interested in woodworking yet, or not, make sure you can and do lock your shop. If that’s not possible, make sure to disable the tools when you are out of the shop, keep blades retracted, etc.

The second most important thing is to have fun with them. Hopefully you’ll both be able to look back and have fond memories of the time spent together.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Russ's profile


357 posts in 4417 days

#9 posted 01-04-2011 07:40 AM

My son (3) got the same kit last Christmas and I plan to do a tool box son. I’ve let him use hand saws, biscuit joiner, and a brad nailer with my help. Mostly me aiming and him pulling the trigger on the power tools. I think the kits at lowes look good and Michaels has assemble and glue kits for like a buck.

-- Russ

View Broglea's profile


695 posts in 4431 days

#10 posted 01-04-2011 08:12 AM

Good topic. I let me kids use the drill press, scroll saw, hand plane, scraper and brad nailer.

Does anyone have advice for letting children use a lathe? Lathes seem relatively safe, fun and can turn out a project within a short time frame.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4455 days

#11 posted 01-04-2011 09:32 AM

Broglea :
a lathe is deffently not safe to use
just think of how easyly a lathechiesel can catch the wood and lift up the handle
before trowing the tool thrugh the air into the wall on the oppesit side of the lathe
and it does it with alot of toque under the right conditions
if you want them to use a lathe then they shuold work with a treadlelathe or polelathe

a lathe isn´t a handtool …its a rotating powertool


View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4390 days

#12 posted 01-04-2011 05:41 PM

When I was at The Woodworking Show a couple of months ago, they had a booth where you could learn to turn a pen and there were a lot of kids participating. They were all being assisted by the volunteer local turning club members. As I recall, they both basically had their hands on the lathe tool. All of the parents had to sign a waiver, of course. The children also had full face shields on.

Maybe this would be a good way to introduce your child to the lathe, once they understand the safety issues of the tool? Maybe start out with them “shadowing” you on the lathe like this? You definitely completely control the speed and depth of cut, while their hands ride along. And to reiterate, make sure any bad habits you may have on the lathe are thrown out the window before starting since your kid is learning, hands-on, by example from you.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View ChuckV's profile


3448 posts in 4867 days

#13 posted 01-04-2011 06:28 PM


My 6 and 8 year-old sons are very interested in working with their hands, especially the younger one. Together, we built this child-sized workbench a while back. Since then, we added a small woodworking vise and some shelves on the wall above the bench for storing their tools and materials.

The younger boy is becoming very good at using an old crosscut hand saw (that was my Dad’s), a coping saw, files, sanding blocks, a block plane, a hand-cranked drill, and a chisel (with very close supervision!).

We find many appropriate projects in books from the library. The one that has the plans for the workbench is Woodshop For Kids by Jack McKee.

Working this way with my boys has been a wonderful experience for everyone. I am amazed at how much children can learn at this age. There are times when I see that my son is doing something that will fail, say gluing in a way that cannot hold. As long as it is not a safety issue and will not ruin the chances of fixing it later, I will let it go. He has learned a great deal this way. Most importantly, he is learning not to get frustrated and give up.

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 4820 days

#14 posted 01-04-2011 06:40 PM

Mike…if you Google kids woodworking you will find lots of sites that have childrens projects for all ages and skill levels. Its great that he has an interest in woodworking.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Russ's profile


357 posts in 4417 days

#15 posted 01-04-2011 06:44 PM

I’ve found some good resources on the Woodworking for Kids blog:

-- Russ

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