Kids love to make things.
My daughter is always asking me “Papa, what can we make? Let’s do a project together.”
Messing about with wood is one of my favorite hobbies. I learned the basics by working with and watching other men build, but even if you’ve never built anything in your life, you can do homeschool woodworking projects together. Here’s a list of online resources to get you started.
Online Resources for Woodworking Projects with Children:
- I Can Do That, a PDF from Popular Woodworking magazine, explains the basic tools and shows you how to perform basic woodworking in a step-by-step format.
- The Folding Rule, an online journal about woodworking in a garage shop, has a post about kids in the shop. Also available are downloads for a bird house plan, a wood buying guide, and Boy Scout woodworking merit badge requirements.
- Charles Niel made a video about introducing kids to woodworking called UnPlug the Kids
- Woodworkers Resource’s book with 21 woodworking lessons and 14 projects for kids: Woodshop 101 for Kids
- A Basic List of Hand Tools Needed For Kids to Get Started in Woodworking
- Plans for a small bat house from the USGS
- The Wood Whisperer’s Basic Hand Tools videos on 5min.com
- Using-Tools is a great basic resource for info about, what else, using tools.
- Nathan Scott’s page about how to use hand tools
- Canadian Home Workshop: Introducing Children to Woodworking Fun
- For Wood Lovers: Basic Wooden Box Basic butt joint box guide
- Free woodworking plans
- the3House.com has free plans
- Jack McKee’s Hands On Books: Woodshop for Kids
- Absolutely Free Plans: Projects for Children
- Woodworking tips from KidsCanMakeIt.com
- Building your home hand tool kit
- How To Dominate Your Son’s Pinewood Derby: Wired
- How To Make Beginner Stilts
- How To Build an Amazing Ant Farm
- azWoodman sells woodcraft kits for kids: My First Project
Tips for buying tools and hardware:
- Don’t buy cheap tools. Ever. You’ll regret it. You don’t need the top of the line tools, but you will end up replacing a cheap tool soon. Buy quality tools that feel good in your hand. Ask at your local hardware store for guidance, ’cause there’s a lot of crap for sale out there. Stay away from “kid’s tools”, as they will frustrate the heck out your child (try driving a nail, even a tiny one, with an itty-bitty hammer…).
- Yard sales are awesome for finding good tools at a reasonable price. Look for an old guy in a baseball hat cleaning out his shop. Tell him you’re setting up a shop for your kids, and he’ll probably hook you up.
- Only get the basic tools. Most shop gadgets that you see at the big box stores are gimmicks. You don’t need a laser level to build a bird house.
- Buy an assortment of nails, especially “box” nails with a big head. Smaller finish nails and brads are for when kids can comfortably drive box nails consistently.
- A drill and driver will speed up large projects by enabling you to drill pilot holes and sink screws quickly. Kids get a kick out of using power tools, and you won’t spend all weekend on one project.
- Drywall screws are great for fastening wood together quickly and securely. Get a couple of different sizes. Deck screws go in fast, but can strip out the hole too easily.
- Clamps are handy, but not a necessity. An old bicycle tube can be cut and wrapped like a huge rubber band to hold parts being glued together.
Tips for finding wood cheaply:
- Cruise the cull bin at the hardware store. The culls are the cut-offs and the wood with bigger knotholes or splits. The big home supply store by my house usually has a bunch of random pieces for fifty cents each.
- Craigslist is a good place to look for free materials.
- Find a cabinet shop and ask about raiding their scrap dumpster. Last fall I found enough cherry, walnut, and oak scraps for a year’s worth of little projects.
- Swing by a building site with your kids at quitting time. Most foremen will let you pick through the scraps if you ask. If you get a lot of good stuff, bring a six-pack by the next day to say thanks.
- Pallets can be cut with a circular saw to get short pieces. Run the blade alongside the stringer to cut them all the same length. If you’ve got time and a crowbar, you can pry them apart to get longer pieces.
Related articles about Fathers and Homeschooling:
- Fathers and Homeschooling: Teach What You Know
- Fathers and Homeschooling: Teaching Without a License