Can woodworking compete with video games, text messaging and the internet? To put it another way do you think YOU would have gotten interested in woodworking if you had grown up in this “golden” era of entertainment technologies? My guess is that you would have…

Why? There was someone in your life who encouraged you and helped pass along a love of working with your hands. There’s a reason why Dads placed 2nd in our Guide to Your 31 Most Influential Woodworkers…

To keep the woodworking torch lit you have to bring kids (grand kids, children, neighborhood kids) into the tradition. I found a WoodNet thread recently that inspired me to gather resources and plans for anyone who wants to encourage a love of woodworking in children. Here’s the thread: Getting Kids interested in Woodworking.

This article is about passing along a love of woodworking so all the plans I mention will be more or less suitable for kids using hand tools with close supervision. And remember – start teaching them about safety from the start. Here are some safety tips for kids from BuildEazy: a bit about safety >>

Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
Woodworking Project Ideas for Kids
Tips and Suggestions on Kids and Woodworking
Free Plans for Kids Woodworking Projects
Video of Woodworking with Kids
More Woodworking with Kids Resources:

Woodworking Project Ideas for Kids
I pulled these ideas directly from the WoodNet thread mentioned above. Some of these suggestions come from people who have worked with kids before. Some don’t. I’ll let you sort out which ideas work best for you ;)

-> how about an open top tool box/caddy? you know, the simple box with a dowel handle?
-> bird houses, bird feeders and a shadow box.
-> Mobiles
-> a pencil box
-> kits for small video game racks or game centers/organizers
-> a small catapult
-> three legged stool, yo yo’s, pencil box, keepsake box, cars made out of 2×4’s
-> tic-tac-toe boards
-> model boats – Cut a notch in the back of a board, put together a propeller (a paddle wheel, actually) out of two pieces of thin stock, and attach with a rubber band.

Tips and Suggestions on Kids and Woodworking
I excerpted these tips from the WoodNet forum thread Getting Kids interested in Woodworking and a collection of “kids and woodworking” articles (linked below).

“The project I’ve found works the best for a first time project for kids boys and girls alike are bird houses, and you can find kits for real cheap.”

for ages 5 and under: “For those little guys and gals you might try a simple napkin holder made fom three pieces that you precut for them. Predrill nail holes for them as well. They get to put some glue on it and bang some nails. When the holder is together they can paint it with all the colors of the rainbow”

“I’ve found young kids have no patience for sanding.. zero.. I mean, you will be lucky to get them to rub sandpaper for 10 seconds.”

Now, it hasn’t been very long since I was a kid, and I don’t pretend that my childhood experience was representative of all children, but here’s what I remember as a boy:
Hated to Do: sand, saw (esp. with a dull saw)
Liked to Do: drill, glue, clamp
Loved to Do: hammer

“If you don’t have time to dream up more interesting and engaging projects, kits can be a fun activity to share. But they pale in comparison to the educational benefit that comes through more experimental woodworking: when there are good old-fashioned mistakes to be made, opportunities for your child to help design things engage in problem solving. For that you will need to go a little deeper in your preparations.”
Doug Stowe of Wisdom of the Hands in a FWW article >>

“Start simple – a piece of sandpaper and wood; or Styrofoam, golf tees and a small rubber mallet. From there, you can introduce a piece of wood with several screws started and a screwdriver. Introduce one tool and one skill at a time.”
From Woodworking With Children >>

“Some didn’t know where to begin and I didn’t know how to get them started. I tried to create, with words, an image of a project that would capture their interest. I asked, “Would you like to build a boat, (candle holder, key ring)?” The answer came back something like, “maybe” or “let me think about it.” Other kids had an idea about what to build but no clue how to begin, so I had to figure out construction details off the top of my head and communicate those details to the child in a way they could understand. No one got hurt. I didn’t get mad or upset and make anyone hate woodworking, but the class was confusing for the kids and hectic for me. And not much was built. I went home to evaluate…”
from Jack Mckee in a Helium article >>

Free Plans for Kids’ Woodworking Projects >>
Based on some of the project ideas and recommendations above I assembled a short list of free project plans that should be more or less suitable for kids. You may have to do varying degrees of prep work depending on the complexity of the project AND the skill level of the kids you’re working with.

kids size picnic table >>

“This picnic table is an ideal project for the budding young woodworker to test his (or her!) skills.”

a wooden scooter >>

“This scooter is an example of how something mechanical can be made just by using standard materials that can be purchased from most building supply stores.”

Scrap Wood Battle Ships >>

“Toys similar to these can be made almost completely from scrap wood materials. Add in a few screws and one small dowel, and you can have a fleet of boats.”

Kids’ birdhouse project >>

“Premilled parts, their “own” tools and a bit of paint make for a couple of hours of busy hands (and peace and quiet) in the shop.”

Child’s Toolbox

Catapult Plans >>

“It is an easy to make catapult that is powered by rubber bands and has a base that is twelve inches (12″) in length. This is a pretty easy project to make and you can do it in a couple of hours.”


“When Oliver, my two-and-a-half-year-old son, needed help to reach the sink and toilet, I decided to make this handy stool. I kept the design as simple as possible so that he could help out with most of the work.”

Free Yo Yo Plans >>

“Despite also owning a few high-tech yo-yos, this homemade yo-yo is the one I use most often. The size and shape are all custom fit to my hand.”

Toy Boat Powered by Rubber Band >>

“We made these toy paddlewheel boats as kids and played with them in the big pond we had at the back of our property. You can have that same kind of fun with this easy to build paddlewheel boat. Make these with your friends and have boat races.”

Video of Woodworking with Kids
“Tree Beads” Simple Woodworking Project for Kids

Mobile Woodworking Program for Youth: the Woodworking Bus

More Woodworking with Kids Resources:
Woodworking for Kids in FWW
“A seasoned woodworker and teacher explains the importance of setting up woodworking programs in schools” This is a MUST READ ARTICLE from a veteran woodworking educator.

Woodworking With Children
“Children can be taught to utilize the woodworking area appropriately and learn to respect tools – just as in any other area in the classroom. For children ages 4 years and older, the benefits and the learning associated with this activity far outweigh the potential for problems, if implemented and supervised correctly…”

Setting Up a Wood Shop for Kids
“Here are ten inexpensive items to equip budding woodworkers.”

Woodworking for Kids – Big Learning
“Woodworking brings together valuable knowledge and skills from many academic and practical subject areas. Here are a few examples.”

Teaching kids the art of woodworking 7 Articles

Kids DIY Projects from BuildEazy

FREE woodworking plans for Children