WT186 – Kid Invasion!

Special thanks to our show sponsor Brusso Hardware.

On today’s show, we’re talking about kids in the shop.

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What’s on the Bench

Marc – Has a new puppy!
Matt – Assembling cabinets and breaking screws!


– Christopher has some thoughts about insulating garage doors. He suggests these two links for DIY insulation: Insulating Your Garage Door on the Cheap and Garage Door Insulation Kit


– Joey wants to know what we do to make our shop’s kid-friendly.
– Joe is looking for project ideas as well as tool recommendations when working with kids in the shop.

Here are some helpful links from the community:
– Josh Hulbert suggested Woodworking for Kids

– Graham Ward suggested WoodShop for Kids

– Stephen Watson recommends Zany Wooden Toys that Whiz, Spin, Pop and Fly

– Charlie Stone – “I started taking my daughter in the shop with me when she was about 2 1/2 years old. She became interested in what I was doing on her own. She wanted to help daddy. Kids of all ages can help on any project. Each of my girls now have their own egg beater drills, hand saws, shop made mallets, shop made rulers, and tool boxes they made. I have 4 woodworking daughters the oldest is 13, my youngest if almost 5. * Note, Amazon has pink kids safety glasses…”

– Christopher Landy recommends the NY Times article Kindergarten Shop Class

– Steve Ramsey – “My #1 tip is to realize that the majority of children will have zero interest in woodworking and will be bored to tears in the shop. Find a project they can make in about 30 minutes. If they lose interest in 10 minutes, let them go. It is probably best to let kids feel free to hang out with you and only offer to build something if they ask.” His candle holder video.

– Arnold Amoros – “I used to take my sisters to the Saturday Home Depot kids workshop. They though roughly enjoyed it. It was working with wood assembling projects they could keep. Pieces were pre cut, so no need to work with dangerous tools they were not ready for.”

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9 replies on “WT186 – Kid Invasion!”

My kids have been in my shop since they were very little. My two sons and daughter began banging nails into wood and progressed from there. My boys (5 and 6) made and painted bird houses and a bat house for their grandparents last Christmas. My daughter is now 9 and has made her own toolbox to store her hammer, awl, block plane, clamps, and safety glasses. She started turning pens at 8, now she has made over 100, and has begun selling them at craft shows.

As long as they are appropriately supervised, I let the kids use any hand tool and some of the safer power tools. For everyone’s safety, i have my shop protected by an electronic deadbolt. The kids wait at the door for me before entering.

I have to admit that I really appreciate the extra little hands when assembling complex projects…

My daughter is 21 and has recently come to me wanting to build something. She likes the game “Settlers of Catan” and wanted to make some wooden game pieces. We just traced around the existing game pieces and made them hexagons – she painted them herself. So that’s pretty simple and would have worked for much younger kids.

Later on, we got crazy and made up some CAD drawings and took them and had them laser-cut and etched. So we went from simple to over-the-top complicated in a single jump.

A plethora of projects are available for kids to build in the work shop. Projects are not the problem. A source for tools and safety equipment is! Try to find safety glasses, hearing protection (ear plugs don’t count, they won’t use them), work gloves or tools that are kindergarten or pre-school size! Safety equipment: it isn’t safety equipment if you have to hold the safety glasses on with one hand while holding the tool in the other. Tools: many of my tools are too heavy or handles too big for small hands. Yes, kids follow me into the shop as soon as they can walk, and I don’t discourage that. Their is a world of discovery in the wood shop for any age. It just needs to be a safe and enjoyable experience.

One more word about projects. Time spent in the shop does not have to involve a project! Especially for kindergarten and pre-school age children. Just give them a few hand tools and a small wooden bench (an old step-stool works great), some blocks of wood, nails and screws and get out of their way! They will learn the motor skills they will need later to make projects when they are ready. Guidance, sure. Involvement, no.

My six year old enjoys decorating things: Tempera paints, watercolors, markers, chalk, etc. She’s enjoyed “shop” time by drawing on select boards, my workbench, even sections of PVC line that would be incorporated into my dust collection. It’s not productive shop time for me but it’s a win-win in that she gets to spend time in dad’s space and I get a more personalized environment for work.

I’ve found it’s great fun to have the kids in the shop, but first I need to get in the mental state for it. Step one decide that I won’t accomplish anything. Once I’m passed that we can all have fun. My son is 4 and daughter is currently 8 and they both love to come in and tinker. For my son just driving screws into scraps keeps him happy, or cutting wood. They have a limited amount of tools they are allowed to use for cutting I’ve gone with the coping saw, sure they can hurt themselves but its going to go slow. My son spent over half an hour one day just sawing a thin scrap. Cut the end off, move down and repeat.
My daughter on the other hand is a bit more creative give her the coping saw, a french curve, rasp and a drill and you never know what’s going to appear, and usually you can’t guess either.
This summer we’ll try some more directed projects, though I love the fact that on the weekends Maddy asks if I can go down to the shop to work, which really means she wants to play in the shop and make something.

Has anyone had any luck with the screw extraction systems?

I read the instructions and have never had any success.

Wow good timing.
I just finished or should I say, my daughter and myself just finished a doll house together.
She asked if we could build one together. Great fun!

Made the Candy Dish Marc demonstrated. My two grandsons and I did their first shop project together. We bought the templates and built Mom and Grand Mom each a dual heart candy dish.

I walked the kids through the process. We reviewed the templates and finishing techniques. We went to the store and hand-picked the wood for the bowls. We discussed glue up and board prep. The used the planer to create smooth surfaces. After the glue-up we used the band saw to cue the bowls out. Then we used the drill press and a forstner bit to hog out material. Man we wasted a TON of expensive wood.

Next it was time for the router to carve out the two hearts. Boy was that every scary for them to handle a router cutting away so much material so fast! Next it was time for some round-overs – remember how scary it was to bring a router to something so near completion?

Next the really boring part – sanding… and sanding… and sanding… ugh!

But finally, the finish. Oh man! That’s all they could say as the color and figure of the Walnut and Maple bloomed with the application of the oil. (food safe). The bowls look awesome!

Mom and Grand Mom both received their Valentines presents – complete with Valentines M&M’s! They each could not believe that the boys, 12 and 14 at the time, could create something so amazing!

Well, with very little help from Grand-Dad, they did. I bet you can guess I’m really proud of them.

Jimmy Smack

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