10 Woodworking Projects for Kids

Woodworking develops hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and muscle development. It also encourages problem-solving and imaginative thinking, and it allows children and parents to engage in fun projects while spending quality time together. Most importantly, passing the art of woodworking down to your children will result in memories you’ll both cherish for years to come.

Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or a novice, you and your children will both enjoy the ten projects outlined here. But first, there are some basic steps to take to ensure a positive introduction to woodworking.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ll want to do is introduce your children to tools. There are pre-assembled toolkits you can buy. These will sometimes include beginner projects to get you going. But you can also assemble your own toolkit for your child customized to their age and skill set. You can throw one together for very little money.

To give your little woodworker a sense of independence and ownership over their new craft, avoid sharing tools with them. You’ll want to buy smaller kid-friendly versions of hammers and saws anyway. Also, giving them their very own set of tools will get them excited about this new hobby.

Prepare a Work Space

If you already have a workspace in your home for using tools and woodworking, this is a great time to give your kids a tour. Remind them how important it is to keep a clean space with proper tool organization.

If you don’t already have a space like this, you can set one up in your garage, shed, or backyard. Just add a table or two for work surfaces, and a space to organize your tools.

Also, encourage your children to make a habit of gathering all the tools and materials needed before starting a project. And putting everything back in its place and cleaning up once they’re finished.

Safety Precautions

After introducing children to their new toolkit, you’ll want to review some safety precautions. Here are some important things to make sure they understand:

Adult Supervision Required: Make it clear that adult supervision is always required when using tools. Explain that tools will be in a safe place out of reach, but encourage them to ask for it whenever they would like to play around or start a new project.

Proper Clothing and Protection: Remind them to always wear protective eye gear when sanding, hammering, or sawing. They should also avoid wearing loose clothing while using their tools.

You may even want to make a sign to hang in your work area reminding them of safety basics.

Ideal Work Times: Discuss ideal project times with your kids. When they’re tired or hungry, they’re prone to making more mistakes. This not only makes projects longer and more difficult, but it also makes it a lot less enjoyable. This goes for both children and supervising adults. Therefore consider setting aside certain times that are convenient for both of you to do your woodworking. Such as weeknights after homework or weekend afternoons. Teach them to take breaks when they need it, especially if something isn’t working right or if either of you start getting frustrated.

Ventilation: Finally, remind them that a window should be open whenever they’re using paints or varnishes with strong fumes. Or whenever there is a lot of sawdust floating around in the air.

Learning How the Tools Work

Before beginning a project, let your child do what their natural curiosity and wonder allow them to do best – explore. Show them their new toolkit by explaining and demonstrating how each item works. Then let them begin to explore them on their own, with you close by supervising of course.

Encourage free-play before starting any kind of project with specific instructions. Just let them follow their natural instincts to see how things fit together. They can practice hammering nails into a large piece of scrap wood. And later move into practicing how to remove them with the claw on the back of their hammers.

They can practice with their hand-drill and saw on scraps as well. And then experiment with how different weights of sandpaper work on different surfaces.

Once they’ve explored how the tools work, encourage them to begin creating things. At this stage, they can make their own little sculptures by nailing or screwing different scraps together. They can add extra decorative touches with their assorted odds n’ ends like corks, old toys, and plastic caps. They can paint finished pieces, or you may even want to show what different varnishes and finishes can look like.

Tips for Parents

Your behavior can do a lot to encourage or discourage your child’s interest and enthusiasm in woodworking. Always remember to have a positive attitude. Be ready to encourage them whenever they’re feeling a little overwhelmed. Remind them to keep trying when things feel a little too hard and to never be afraid to ask for help. Do encourage independence though and avoid stepping in to do every little thing for them. They’ll never learn to do it themselves until they try and practice! Even though this particular hobby can involve a lot of hard work, remind them that their pride in the finished product will make it all worth it!

10 Woodworking Projects

Now that you’ve given your children an introduction to their tools, workspace, and safety rules, it’s time to dive into your first project! The following projects are in order from very easy to hard, based on a child’s skill set. Younger children can stick to the easy projects until they get older. But kids ages 7 and up can start with the easy ones and work their way up to the more challenging projects. You know your child better than anyone – so trust your gut on what you think they’re ready for, and what they need a little more practice with.

1. Wooden Stamps

Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: Free or Less Than $10
Time: Open-Ended

Required Skills/Abilities: Previous practice with hammering nails. Experience with handsaw optional.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: This is the perfect first project for children after they’ve had some time to play around with their toolkits and practice using hammer and nails. They’ll love discovering that all of that time spent learning how to use these things has resulted in their ability to make something they’ll enjoy using.

Materials Needed:

  • Long, large-head nails
  • Assorted nuts and bolts
  • A branch or skinny log
  • Child-sized hammer
  • Paints, paper, and paper towel (for once the stamps are finished)
  • Handsaw
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag

How to Make It:

  1. First, use the handsaw to cut the branch or log into 3 to 5-inch sections. It doesn’t have to be very exact, so this is a great time to practice marking measurements. Parents can do this part for younger or more inexperienced kids, or this can be a great introduction to measuring and sawing!
  2. Sand both ends of each section, wiping down the surface when finished.
  3. For the first one, hammer the tip of a nail into one of the sanded sides. Hammer it just deep enough to make an indentation. Cover the whole surface until you have a nice textured edge. Turn the section over and work on the other side or move onto the next section of branch.
  4. Then use the hammer and assorted nuts and bolts to experiment with making a variety of textures.
  5. Once you’ve made all the stamps you’d like to, bring out the paints and paper. Place a paper towel or rag down first, then put your paper on top. Dip the textured ends of the branches into the paint and stamp them onto your paper.

2. Nail String Art

By Personal Creations - String Art Heart, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36707975Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: Free or Less Than $10
Time: Open-ended

Required Skills/Abilities: Previous practice with hammering nails. An understanding of spatial construction necessary for making certain designs – can be a great opportunity for kids to practice translating their knowledge of drawing objects into 3D design.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: Kids will love the creative freedom this project grants them, once they’ve gotten the hang of it. They’ll love seeing their creations hung proudly on the wall or giving these away to others as presents!

Materials Needed:

  • Long, large-head nails
  • A medium to large flat scrap of wood
  • Child-sized hammer
  • Assorted colored string (or rubber bands)
  • A pencil or marker
  • scissors
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag (optional)
  • Painting supplies (optional)

How to Make It:

  1. If necessary, sand down surface of wood, wiping down the surface when finished.
  2. Hammer nails into random places to make an abstract design. Or draw out a specific image such as your initials or try an outline of your favorite animal. Thinking of how a connect-the-dots drawing works, hammer nails every few inches along your outline.
  3. Tie one end of a section of string to one of the nails. Pull the string tightly and wrap it around the next nail in your outline. Continue doing this all the way around your design until the entire outline is complete. Tie the string securely around the nail every time you reach the end of it. If you reach the end of your string before you’ve finished your outline, just tie it off and start with a new section. Or tie that end to a new end of the string – whatever is easiest for you. Trim off excess string each time you tie a knot.
  4. Once your outline is complete, begin filling in sections of your design by running string from nail to nail in different directions.
  5. If your nails are close enough together, you can experiment with using rubber bands to connect your “dots” instead of the string. This works great for smaller children who can’t tie knots on their own.
  6. Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating nail string art, try painting the wood (and even the nails!) different colors and let it dry before adding your string.
  7. Attach a picture hanger to the back of the wood or prop it on a shelf to display it!

3. Wooden Tops

Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Cost: $5 to $10
Time: less than an hour

Required Skills/Abilities: Some hammering experience. Ability to use a pencil sharpener. Experience with handsaw optional.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: Children will love getting to reap the benefits of their woodworking skills by having a toy to play with once they’re finished! They’ll enjoy making this for or with friends and playing with their tops for hours of fun.

Materials Needed:

  • Wooden wheels and dowels: Dowels should be able to fit through the openings in the wooden wheels. These can be found at most craft stores.
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Sandpaper
  • Painting supplies

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut the dowels into 3-inch sections. Parents can do this for children, or this can be a great introduction to using their handsaw.
  2. Lightly water down some paint to make a thin wash. Use this to stain the wheels. Let dry completely before moving on.
  3. Then sharpen one end of the wooden dowels with a pencil sharpener. For really colorful tops, dowels can be stained the same way the wheels were. Be sure to sharpen one end first though.
  4. Finally, gently hammer the dowel into a wheel to form your top! Make as many as you want and play away!

4. Sailboats

Level of Difficulty: Easy    
Cost: $5 to $10
Time: 2 to 3 hours (some waterproof varnishes may require overnight drying to be fully effective)

Required Skills/Abilities: Experience with drilling. Good introduction to varnishing and finishes.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: Not only will they have a blast playing with their sailboats, they’ll feel so proud knowing they made it themselves! They can even experiment with adding propellers and other elements and have a boat race with their friends!

Materials Needed:

  • 2×4” scraps cut into 6-inch sections (one for each boat)
  • 8” wooden dowel or twig
  • Waterproof glue
  • Scrap fabric for the sail
  • Fabric glue or hot glue
  • Drill
  • 3/8” drill bit
  • Waterproof varnish or sealant
  • Assorted odds and ends (optional)

How to Make It:

  1. First, mark the center of your wood, and drill into it being careful not to go all the way through the wood.
  2. Using waterproof glue, insert dowel/twig into the drilled hole to create your mast.
  3. Varnish boat and mast with the waterproof sealant. Let dry before moving on.
  4. Then cut your scrap fabric into a triangular sail. Wrap one end of it around the mast and glue it into place.
  5. Optional: Use assorted odds and ends and wood glue to create a captain for your boat. Following the same steps as the mast, drill a hole and glue your creation into place.

5. Art Supply Holder

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: $5 to $10
Time: 1 to 2 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Experience with drilling.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: They’ll love how useful this project will be in storing their markers, crayons, and colored pencils. They’ll feel a sense of accomplishment every time they look at it sitting on their art desk.

Materials Needed:

  • (3) 9-inch sections of 1×3” wood
  • Drill
  • 3/8” drill bit
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Clamps or vice
  • Painting supplies (optional)

How to Make It:

  1. First, use a pencil or chalk to mark a spot for each of your holes on one of the 9 sections of wood. You can place a hole every inch or two, depending on how many supplies you’d like to store.
  2. For crayon storage: drill holes all the way through the wood
  3. For pencil and marker storage: First glue 2 of the 9-inch sections together, then drill holes all the way through both pieces of wood.
  4. Try drilling a row of holes in one section of wood for crayons. Then glue it to your second piece of wood and drill a second row of holes all the way through for markers and crayons. This way you can have the option of storing both!
  5. Finally, glue on the third piece of wood – forming a stack from the three separate pieces. Place the stack in a clamp or vice while it dries.
  6. Your project is finished once dry, or you can paint it! Customize it with your name on the front or paint a design onto it.

6. Tent

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $15 to $20
Time: 2 to 3 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Measuring and drilling.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: This takes fort building to a whole new level! Kids will enjoy this tent for playtime, reading, and other fun activities. This project is simple to assemble once they’ve had some drilling experience, but the end result is very impressive. This is the perfect first large-scale project to dive into.

Materials Needed:

  • 3 yards of canvas or outdoor fabric
  • Ruler/tape measurer
  • Fusible bonding and iron (or sewing materials)
  • Drill
  • ¾” drill bit
  • (3) ¾” dowels, 48” long
  • (4) 1 x 1.5 x 48” wood boards
  • Scissors

How to Make It:

  1. Mark each board 6” from one end, in the center.
  2. Mark the center of each board on the opposite end, an inch and a half from the end.
  3. Using ¾” drill bit, drills holes where measurements are marked.
  4. Insert the dowels through the holes of the boards to create an A-shaped frame, with the holes an inch and a half from the edge on the bottom. One dowel will connect the boards at the top, and the other two will connect the boards on each side of the bottom.
  5. Trim the fabric to be 44” in width.
  6. Next, loop each end of the fabric around to make a pocket for the dowels. The pocket should be 3 inches wide. This pocket will resemble the top of a curtain. Either sew the pocket into place or use an iron and fusible bonding to hold it in place.
  7. Insert one of the bottom dowels through the pocket and back into place in the A-frame. The fabric will drape across the dowel at the top of the frame. Then insert the third dowel on the other side through the pocket and back into the A-frame.

7. Animal/Dinosaur Bookends

Bookends Dog Read Library Books Information

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $5 to $10
Time: Approximately 2 hours. Some enamel spray paints may need to dry overnight.

Required Skills/Abilities: Some experience with a handsaw and nailing boards together.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: These bookends add fun décor to kids’ bookshelves while incorporating their favorite animal or dinosaur! These are a fun, modern addition to any room. Fairly easy to assemble, with an impressive end result.

Materials Needed:

  • (2) 6 x 4” pieces of wood
  • (2) 3 x 6” pieces of wood
  • Large plastic dinosaurs or animals. Find these at any dollar store.
  • Handsaw
  • Spray paint – let kids choose their favorite colors or use what you have around the house! Use a finish that can coat plastic for best results.
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag

How to Make It:

  1. If necessary, sand surfaces and edges of the wood. Wipe down when finished.
  2. Lay 3” block of wood flat on work surface. Line up flush with the bottom of 6” wood.
  3. Glue into place. Once dry, nail into place for extra security.
  4. Then use the hand saw to cut plastic toy in half. Parents may need to help some kids with this step, depending on how difficult the toy is to cut. Make sure they know what the end result is supposed to look like so they understand why you’re telling them to cut their toy in half!
  5. Use a hot glue gun to glue one end of the animal to each bookend. When bookends are placed back to back, the end result will look like the animal is walking through one bookend and out the other one.
  6. Spray paint bookends and attached toy. Let dry completely before using.

8. Mason Bee House

Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Cost: $10 or less
Time: 1 to 2 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Experience drilling holes. Can gain experience cutting an angle, or parents can complete this step instead.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: A twist on the classic birdhouse, this project gives a home to mason bees and stimulates their dwindling population. They’ll enjoy seeing female mason bees lay their eggs in this creation.

Materials Needed:

  • 4 x 4 x 14” pine post, or similar thickness scrap wood block or wooden log
  • Drill
  • 5/16” drill bit
  • Hammer and nails
  • 6 x 6 x ¾” scrap wood, or similar size
  • Heavy duty hanger
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag

*Note: avoid using cedar or redwood as these resist insects and will be undesirable for the bees.

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut the top of the post or log at an approximately 22 ½” angle. Cut the back edge of the smaller wood scrap at the same angle, so it the two edges will lay flush together. Nail smaller scrap onto the top of the post to create a slanted roof to protect the bee home from rainfall.
  2. Then drill a variety of holes approximately 3 ½” deep into the front side of the post or log. You can measure and mark these holes out into a grid or place them randomly. Just make sure they are spaced far enough apart.
  3. Sand and wipe down surface.
  4. Attach the heavy duty hanger to the back of the piece towards the top.
  5. Finally, hang the finished piece in a sunny spot in your garden or backyard. Keep an eye out for bees using what you’ve made for them! Mason bees don’t sting, so you don’t have to be afraid of them hanging around.

9. Toolbox

Level of Difficulty: Hard
Cost:$10 to $15
Time: 3 to 4 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Measuring and cutting wood (or parents can cut pieces in advance). Experience with hammer and nails.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: Now that kids have mastered the use of their tools and many of the basic woodworking skills, they’re ready to move on to measuring and cutting wood for more advanced projects. They’ll love building their own toolbox to keep all of their tools in. The end result can be customized and decorated however they’d like.

Materials Needed:

  • (1) 1x6x24” board
  • (1) 1x4x24” board
  • (1) 10 ½” x 5 ½” plywood, ¼” thick
  • (1) 12” dowel, ¾” thickness
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag
  • Wood glue
  • Measuring tape and pencil or chalk
  • Painting supplies (optional)

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut wood into the following pieces:
    • 2 sides: ¾” x 3 ½” x 10 ½”
    • 2 ends: ¾” x 5 ½” x 8”
    • Bottom: ¼” x 12” x 5 ½”
  2. To angle the top sides of the two pieces, first drill a ¾” hole in the center about two inches down from the top on each end piece. Then mark each side about 3 ½” from the bottom. Mark the center on the top above the drilled hole. Measure and mark 1 inch from each side of the center. Connect the dots on each side to create your angle and cut.
  3. Glue one of the side pieces to one of the end pieces, then nail into place.
  4. Attach the other side piece with wood glue and nails.
  5. Then, use wood glue and hammer to secure the dowel into the drilled hole.
  6. Attach the other end piece to the two side pieces, forming a box.
  7. Using wood glue and nails, attach the bottom piece.
  8. Sand all surfaces and wipe down.
  9.  Finally, customize and paint however you’d like!

10. Animal/Doll Bed

Level of Difficulty: Hard
Cost: under $20
Time: 4 to 5 hours

Required Skills/Abilities: Measuring and cutting wood (or parents can cut pieces in advance). Experience with hammer and nails.

Why Your Kids Will Love It: This bed fits 18” dolls or stuffed animals. They will take pride in creating their very first piece of furniture for themselves or friends or younger siblings.

Materials Needed:

  • 1” x 12” x 6’ board
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sandpaper and baby wipes/rag
  • Painting supplies or wood stain
  • Measuring tape and pencil or chalk
  • Scrap fabric or blankets

How to Make It:

  1. First, cut wood into the following pieces:
    • Bed platform: 1” x 19” x 11 ¼”
    • Headboard: 1” x 9 ½” x 11 ¼”
    • Footboard: 1” x 5 ½” x 11 ¼”
    • Side pieces: (2) ¾” x ¾” x 19”
  2. You can leave the headboard and footboard square. Or if you have a jigsaw you’d like to introduce your kids to, you can play around with cutting a curve around the top and bottom for an extra decorative touch.
  3. Glue the two side pieces (3/4” x ¾” x 19” slats) on top of the bed platform, one on each side. Nail into place.
  4. Measure or mark 3 inches up from the bottom on both sides of the headboard. Repeat for the footboard.
  5. The top of the bed platform should line up with your 3-inch mark (with the two slat pieces on the bottom). Glue the headboard and footboard to the platform. Then nail into place.
  6. Sand all surfaces and wipe down.
  7. Paint or stain the wood and seal with a varnish.
  8. Use scrap fabric or blankets and small pillows as bedding for your bed once it’s dry. Then let your toys enjoy a nap in their new bed!

By the time your kids have worked their way through this whole list, they will have mastered the use of basic woodworking tools, become experienced with a hammer and nails and other techniques such as sanding, and had some practice with measuring and cutting wood. These skills will prove to be useful throughout their lives. And you’ll both treasure the quality, bonding time you’ve spent together.

 

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