10 Woodworking Projects for High Schoolers

High Schoolers are at a special age where they are learning the skills necessary for entering into the world as adults. Woodworking can be a great way for them to express themselves while also learning a valuable skill that they’ll appreciate throughout their lives. It is also a great way for parents and teens to bond while engaging in a new hobby together. This post will provide you with ten projects your high schoolers can complete independently or with your guidance. Whether you have already introduced them to woodworking basics or this is a new endeavor, there are projects for all skill levels.

Getting Started

If you and your high schooler are new to woodworking, you’ll want to set up a workspace and practice some basic skills. The projects listed below don’t require a lot of special equipment. The main things you will need are basic tools like a hammer, nails, a hand drill, screws, measuring tape, sandpaper, and safety equipment like eye protection and gloves. You’ll also want to look into investing in some power tools such as a table saw and jig saw. Some of these projects will require specialty tools such as carving utensils and woodburning tools. Teens are at an age where they will enjoy taking ownership over the space and helping you get it all set up. So be sure to get them involved in the process.

Safety Precautions

Even though teens can do woodworking more independently than younger age groups, especially if they have previous experience, you’ll still want to stress the importance of safety and supervision. You’re in luck if your teens have already taken some woodshop classes at school. They will likely already have a basic understanding of safety measures and how tools work. But it never hurts to practice caution and review everything with them again.

Customization and Design

Because high schoolers are learning about who they are and what they want to do in the world, self-expression is an important activity for them to engage in. For that reason, the opportunity to customize and decorate their projects will be an important part of the process. Encourage your teen to explore making alterations to designs for a personal touch. And build up a varied stock of paints, stains, and finishes so they can make their finished product a work of art that expresses their personality.

10 Woodworking Projects

Now that you and your teen have a work space, some safety rules in place, and an understanding of how everything works, it’s time for them to try their hand at some projects. These are in order from very easy to moderate, so depending on their skill level they may want to start at the beginning and work their way through the list. Or they can pick and choose the ones they are most interested in.

1. Hiking Stick

https://www.instructables.com/id/Rope-Handgrip-for-Hiking-Stick/Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: Free or less than $5
Time: A couple of hours or less
Required Skills/Abilities: Knowledge of a drill and how to drill a hole through something.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Many teens have a love for the outdoors and hiking. If they don’t enjoy this hiking stick for themselves, they will love making them for friends and family. They will also enjoy adding their own personal touches.

Materials Needed:

  • A large stick suited to the height of who will be using it. You can search for one that is already the right size, or trim a longer one down to the desired height. Test out the stick you choose and make sure it is a good width that is sturdy but not too heavy.
  • String or twine – This will be braided into a loop that will go at the top of your hiking stick so you can hang it up when it’s not in use. It also adds an extra element of color and style, so be creative with what you use.

How to Make It:

  1. First, you will need to find the right size stick. See the materials list for tips on what to look for. If your stick is not already the height you need, trim it down to the appropriate size.
  2. How you prepare the surface of your hiking stick will depend on what you want the finished look to be. You can leave all the bark on for a rustic look, or you can carve off the bark for a smoother, more polished effect. If you want to paint your hiking stick, you’ll need to carve off all the bark. You can also carve the top of your stick to be slightly thinner. This will create a groove for the leather or other material you create a handle with and can be a nice effect.
  3. Once you have prepared the surface of your hiking stick, you’ll create a loop to attach to the top that can be used as a hanger or as an alternate way to carry it around when you’re not hiking. Get whatever string or twine you’ve chosen and braid it into an approximately 12-inch-long section. Braiding it makes it more durable. You may need to measure this against your stick and make your braid longer or shorter based on your preferences. When finished braiding, drill a hole into the top end of your stick that is narrow enough to fit onto your stick but wide enough to run your braided string through. Once your hole is drilled, run the braid through and tie it to make a loop.
  4. Your stick can be finished now, or you can add some more decorative elements. You can paint and seal it for a colorful stick or play around with different stains and varnishes. You can also carve designs into your stick. Give some thought to how you want it to look, experiment on smaller sticks and logs, and have fun with it!

2. Wood Burning

https://www.army.mil/article/64647/resolute_warrior_burns_his_mark_during_deploymentLevel of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: $20 to $30
Time: Open-ended

Required Skills/Abilities: If you have no experience with wood burning, you’ll need to spend some time learning how the tools work and how to create certain effects. Once you have that down you can make some touches that are quick and simple, or you can spend hours creating elaborate designs.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Wood burning can be used to customize so many things. It does require a small investment in special tools, but once your teen has the equipment and knows how to use it, they will enjoy it for a variety of uses for the rest of their lives.

Materials Needed:

  • Many basic wood burning kits can be purchased for as little as $20, but some digging on the internet might bring up some even cheaper options. All you really need is a wood burning pen and a variety of tips to create different effects. Larger kits will have more tips, but to get started you only need a few.
  • You’ll need some scrap wood to practice on (soft, low grain woods work best), some sandpaper, and some things for transferring designs to your wood which could include a printer, transfer paper, and pencils.

How to Make It:

  1. First, you’ll need to experiment with your wood burning pen on scrap wood and get used to how it works. Try out the different tips to get a sense of which ones to use for different areas of your designs – i.e. thin and thick lines, shaded areas, shapes like circles or teardrops, etc.
  2. Then, you can print out a design from the internet and use transfer paper to trace it onto your wood. Now that you know what your different tips do, use the appropriate ones to burn into the lines of your design. Or you can freehand it and make your own patterns and images.
  3. As you work, keep sandpaper nearby to get rid of any build up on the wood.
  4. Always keep the temperature of the pen tips in mind. It may be helpful to keep pliers nearby to easily switch out hot tips.
  5. You can use stains or paint to add even more color and variations to your design. There are endless options for what you can do with wood burning. Any of the projects listed here can be customized with wood burning techniques. You can also purchase (or build) cheap, basic wood items from stores and add customized wood burning to make it a personalized work of art.

3. Jewelry Holder

Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: Free or less than $10
Time: A couple of hours or less

Required Skills/Abilities: Some light drilling and sanding experience may be required.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: This holder doesn’t have to just be for jewelry. It can be for keys, lanyards, or any number of accessories. It also makes a great gift and can be personalized to suit any style.

Materials Needed:

  • a scrap piece of wood or slice from a large log
  • Hook screws – size depends on what you want to hang, and color depends on how you envision the end-product looking.
  • Optional: Depending on the density of your wood, you may need materials to drill a small hole to make it easier to install your hook screws.

How to Make It:

  1. First, select a piece of wood or log that is big enough to hold the number of hooks you want your holder to have. For coats or clothing, you’ll want a pretty big piece of wood that large hooks can fit into with a decent amount of spacing in between. Alternatively, you can have a small piece large enough for one hook to hold a set of keys or several small hooks for jewelry. Once you’ve selected your hook screws, check the length of your screw against the thickness of the wood to make sure they won’t stick out the back side.
  2. Then, sand down your surface and paint or customize it however you would like. It’s best to do this first and allow the surface to dry completely before inserting your hooks since painting around them can be tricky.
  3. If you have trouble screwing the hooks into the wood, drill a small shallow hole first to help get it started. Then just insert all the hooks.
  4. Finally, you can attach a picture hanger to the back or carve out a small hole or groove to hang it from a nail. The larger the piece, the more hanging support you’ll need. A large piece for clothing may need two to three hangers spaced evenly across the back. Smaller pieces will only need one small hole or hanger, or you can even attach some string to the back and hang it that way. Then you’re ready to hang it up and start using it, or give it away as a gift!

4. Driftwood Art

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Free or less than $5
Time: It takes several weeks to treat and dry out driftwood

Required Skills/Abilities: This is a super easy project for any skill level. No previous experience required! But the process of making art and other items from your treated driftwood will take some thought to design and construction.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: The rustic look of driftwood is very popular right now. Teens can learn how to find and treat their own wood and use it in a variety of artwork and home décor projects. Driftwood can also be a great accent to other finished projects.

Materials Needed: A large bucket, bleach, water, and of course driftwood!

How To Make It:

  1. First, you’ll need to find some driftwood. You can find driftwood scraps in a variety of sizes near almost any body of water, lake or ocean. After gathering the pieces, brush off any dirt or debris.
  2. Once you have found some driftwood pieces, you’ll want to treat them and dry them out the prevent rot and to preserve the pieces. This process also lightens the color of the wood, which adds a nice aesthetic quality. Begin by soaking the wood pieces in a bleach/water solution – about 2 cups of bleach per gallon of water. You’ll need to continue this soaking process for approximately 5 days, changing the solution every day.
  3. Now that the driftwood has been bleached, you’ll need to dry it out thoroughly. Find a warm, dry place where you can spread them out on old towels or another porous surface, such as a wooden deck. Make sure if you dry them outdoors, it is in a covered area where they won’t be rained on. You should allow them 1 to 2 weeks to dry out completely.
  4. Now your wood is preserved and lightened in color, and ready to use in projects! Driftwood pieces are commonly used to make wreaths, picture hangers, candleholders, wall art, and much more. You can use a piece of driftwood in the jewelry hanger project above, or simply take a piece that you think turned out especially well and hang it on the wall as is for a decorative accent piece. Treated driftwood can also be stained or painted in different finishes.

5. Catapult

By Ron L. Toms - http://www.Onager.com, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3848681Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Less than $10
Time: A couple of hours or less
Required Skills/Abilities: Measuring and cutting wood.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: This is a simple creation for playful teens that enjoy projects they can have fun with after completing. Not only is this catapult a lot of fun, it can also be used in a variety of science experiments.

Materials Needed:

  • scrap 2 x 4’s and 1 x 4’s
  • table saw
  • screws and drill

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut a 32” and a 3 ½” section out of the 1 x 4” wood.
  2. Then, cut a 3 ½” section out of the 2 x 4” wood.
  3. Finally, screw the two 3 ½” pieces into the 32” piece, around 8 to 10 inches from one end. This creates a sort of see-saw effect. Objects can be placed onto the long end of the wood, and then catapulted into the air!

6. Wooden Spoons

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: There are a few carving knives required for this one. If you already have the materials listed below, or comparable items, the only cost is for the wood slat. This could easily be scrap wood. If you do need to purchase 2 to 3 of the specialty knives listed, they can be purchased for 40 to 60 dollars.
Time: Varies depending on experience

Required Skills/Abilities: If you or your teen have previous experience in woodcarving, it will definitely make this project easier. But this is also a great introduction to woodcarving.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Wood carving is a relaxing activity that can help them blow off steam. And these spoons can be customized in a variety of ways, making for great decorative items or gifts.

Materials Needed:

  • a wood slat – trimmed to be slightly bigger than the size spoon you would like to create.
  • sandpaper
  • clamps
  • spoon gouge
  • roughing knife
  • hook knife

How To Make It:

  1. Trace the shape of the spoon onto the wood and then cut it out. If your teen doesn’t have previous experience with power tools, be sure to help them with this step.
  2. Before you carve anything, review safety precautions! Always work with a sharp knife as dull ones make accidents more likely. Always ensure the object you’re carving is secured with a clamp or firm grip before you begin, and always carve away from your body.
  3. Clamp your spoon to a sturdy surface and trace out the outline for the bowl of your spoon. Be sure to leave some space around the bowl so you can sand it down to the desired size lip of the spoon. Use the spoon gouge and hook knife to carve out the spoon bowl. Switch back and forth between the tools to see which one works best for different areas and cuts.
  4. Once your bowl is the desired shape and size, you can begin working on the handle. Shape out a handle with a roughing knife.
  5. Your carved spoon can be sanded down to the desired smoothness. Then it can be customized and decorated. If you want to use your spoon rather than it just being decorative, be sure to research all paints and finishes to find ones that are non-toxic and food-safe. Oils such as tung, linseed, walnut, and mineral as well as beeswax are all usually considered to be food-safe. But some may require the occasional reapplication.

7. Bath Tub Tray

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: $10 or less
Time: a couple of hours or less

Required Skills/Abilities: Ability to measure and cut wood.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Teens these days are busier than ever with tons of homework and studying to do, plus all of their extra-curricular activities and college preparation. This tray fits across the bathtub allowing them to relax and have a snack in the tub, read books, or watch videos on their phone. It helps them add an extra element of entertainment to their bath time, or provide them with time to study while relaxing. If baths aren’t their thing, they can give it away as a handmade gift!

Materials Needed: Large board approximately 37 x 8 ½ x 1 ½ “

How to Make It:

  1. The very first thing to do is measure the width of your bathtub. You’ll want to cut out a section of your wood to your desired surface width while being long enough to have about 6 to 7 inches of wood extending past the edges of the tub. If your tub is closed in against a wall, you’ll need to take that space restriction into account. Your tray may need to be shorter on that side, but can still go 6 to 7 inches over the lip of the tub on the other side.
  2. Now that you have an idea of how big your tray needs to be, cut that out from your board. You’ll also need to cut out two slats, approximately 6 inches long each.
  3. Place the board across your tub. Mark where the 6-inch slats need to be attached on the bottom of the board. Each one will rest against the inside edge of the tub. Place the slats where they need to go and mark this on the bottom surface of your wood. Remove everything and attach the slats.
  4. Your tub tray is now ready to be sanded and finished. Use it to prop up books or electronic devices, or a tray of tasty snacks!

8. Corn Hole Game

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $20 or less
Time: 2 – 3 hours
Required Skills/Abilities: Ability to measure and cut wood, some angled cuts required.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Corn hole is a popular game for all ages. Your teens will love playing corn hole once they’re finished, and they’ll be proud they built it themselves!

Materials Needed:

  • ½” plywood and 2 x 4’s
  • square, 6-inch corn bags – you can easily purchase these online
  • A drawing compass, measuring tape, and pencil

Cut List:

  • For the game board surfaces: (2) 24” x 48” sections of ½” plywood
  • For the frame: (4) 48” sections of the 2 x 4, and (4) 21” sections of the 2 x 4
  • For the legs: (4) 11 ½” sections of the 2 x 4

How to Make It:

  1. Use the 2 x 4 sections to make two boxes for the frames. Place the 21” sections inside of the 48” sections to create a 2 x 4’ box. Use 1 5/8” screws to attach everything together.
  2. Lay the 24 x 48” sections of plywood on top of the boxes and attach with screws. You will now have the two platform boxes required for the game.
  3. You will attach two legs to each platform box, elevating one end of the box off the ground while the other end angles downwards to the floor. Once you have attached the legs, cut a triangular piece off of each leg so that it lays flat against the ground. The elevated edge of the corn hole platform should end up being about 12 inches off of the ground.
  4. To create the center hole on the game board surface (where you’ll throw the corn bags) measure and make a mark 9” down from the top and 12” from each side. Use a drawing compass to draw a 6-inch circle around that mark. Use a jigsaw to cut out the circle. Repeat this process on both game platforms.
  5. You can now sand down any rough edges and decorate your game boards however you’d like. Now challenge your friends and family to a game and have fun!

9. Wooden Chest

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $20 or less
Time: 4 to 5 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Ability to measure and cut wood.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: High schoolers are anxious to prepare to leave for college and then onto a home of their own. This chest will give them a space to store all of their belongings as well as items they want to save for their future homes. Teens can use this chest to store the projects listed here for their first dorm room, apartment, or home.

Materials Needed:

  • (1) ¾ inch plywood
  • (1) 2 x 2 x 8” piece of wood
  • (1) 10” section of 3 ¼” trim
  • section of baseboard trim
  • two large hinges

Cut List:

  • Chest front and back pieces: (2) ¾ x 16 x 34”
  • Chest sides: (2) ¾ x 16 x 17”
  • Bottom: (1) ¾ x 15 ½ x 32 ½
  • Top: (1) ¾ x 18 x 36”
  • Interior supports: (4) 2 x 2” sections, approx. 14 ½” long

How to Make It:

  1. First, use wood glue to form a box with the front, back, bottom, and side pieces. Once you have glued and completed the box, use a drill and screws to finish attachments.
  2. Cut the support pieces at an angle so that they fit into the corners of the box. Glue and then screw them into place. These make the chest more durable and sturdy.
  3. Trim the baseboard trim to the length of the front of the chest, then attach it with glue and nails or screws.
  4. Finally, use the two large hinges to attach the top of the chest. You can also bevel the edges on the top of the chest for an extra decorative touch. You are now ready to paint or stain and seal your chest!

10. Wooden iPhone Speaker

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $10 or less
Time: a couple of hours or less

Required Skills/Abilities: Ability to measure and cut wood.

Why Your Teens Will Love It: Teens and adults alike love to listen to music and audiobooks on their smartphones. This passive amplifier will provide a speaker for any phone, no batteries or wires required! Teens will love impressing their friends and family with this creation.

Materials Needed:

  • wood piece: 24 x 6 x ½”
  • ¾ x ¾” square wooden dowel
  • paper and drawing utensils

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut the 24” piece of wood into two 12 inch sections. These will form the front and back of the amplifier.
  2. To determine the slot that needs to be cut out of the front piece for your phone, place your phone on the surface with about three-fourths of the phone laying on the wood and the remainder sticking out over the top edge. Trace a square around your phone, leaving a tiny bit of space to ensure your phone fits once everything is assembled. But not too much extra space – so it rests snug inside.
  3. Cut out the line you traced around your phone. Now lay this section of wood on some paper and trace the outline. This gives you a template for cutting the dowel down to the appropriate sizes. Measure each side of the front piece, and cut out a section of the dowel to match. When you get to the bottom part of the cut-out section where your phone will rest, check the size of the speaker on the bottom of your phone. Leave a half inch space between dowel pieces where your speaker is located. This allows the sound to pass through the assembled box and be amplified out.
  4. Then, lay out the cut dowel pieces onto the back piece. Lay the phone in the opening once more to ensure everything lines up. Make any adjustments necessary, then glue the dowel pieces down.
  5. Go back to the front piece and mark the center of each tall side – where the speakers will go. Cut out a circle on each center mark that is approximately 2 1/8” in diameter. For an additional decorative touch, you can bevel the edges of the circles.
  6. Finally, glue the front piece onto the back piece, resting it on top of the dowel outline. You are now ready to paint or stain your speaker and put it to use!

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