I asked my facebook followers for gift suggestions for my turning five year old who already has everything, and they came up with a winning idea – a woodworking set!
My smallest child has been watching us renovate our old house his entire life, he loves to help, he loves tools, he has a set of pretend play tools but he is the perfect age start some real woodworking of his own, so we got him a woodworking set for his fifth birthday.
We looked at several commercial tool sets for kids but none of them had all the things we wanted, many of them had stuff we didn’t want or need, and some of them were really expensive, so we decided to put together our own woodworking set.
Here is what we included in our woodworking set for kids:
- A child sized hammer – small hammers are cheap and easy to find at most hardware stores, make sure you get one with a claw so you can use it to remove nails as well as hammer them!
- Nails – they need to be fairly long and with a large head for beginngers
- A hand drill and drill bits.
- A clamp or a vice – for holding things together while you attach them, it makes it easier and safer to have things clamped securely in place
- A ruler and pencil for measuring and marking – a builders tape measure is fun too, but harder for little hands to use to actually measure.
- Wood glue – an easy way to attach small items and decorations.
- Sandpaper – of varying weights.
- Water colour paints and/or markers for decorating constructions.
- Various loose parts that can be nailed, glued or drilled – plastic bottle caps are easy to drill and then nail on, foam shapes nail or glue easily, beads glue and nail easily.
- Wood – you’ll need soft wood in a variety of sizes. Many hardware stores will give you pine off cuts free of charge, you can also ask at building sites (just make sure the pine is not treated) or look for services that provide recycled materials for art and craft. If you have fire wood you can also slice up small logs and sticks, and a big old lump of wood or a stump is great, safe, surface for hammering or drilling on to.
We also have plans to add a handsaw once Noah is more confident and capable with the basics. We are looking at a hack saw as they are small, easy to use and can cut a variety of things.
You’ll also need:
- A nice flat, solid, surface to work on that is the right height for your child and that can take a bit of pounding and drilling
- Eye protection for some activities like sanding
- An adult willing to show the kids how to use the tools safely
Woodworking With Kids
While my kids have had a go here and there with adult tools, and they have used a hot glue gun to make wood creations before, they have not had a set of tools of their own, nor really had the time or materials to explore wooodworking.
They needed a fair bit of instruction and support when they first started using the tools, and it is important to show the kids how to use the tools safely. This is an activity that required a lot of supervision at first, but as they have become more confident and capable less supervision is required – just a quick reminder about safety and being on hand to help out when needed is enough.
We started Noah (five) out with hammering nails into a large chunk of firewood. This big stable surface meant that he only had to worry about the nail and the hammer, not what he was hammering into.
It took a bit of practice and a few bashed fingers to get the hang of hammering, but soon Noah was bashing nails in without too much trouble. Don’t forget to show your kids how to use the claw of the hammer to remove nails too.
The hand drill is by far the most popular tool in the set.
It takes a bit of strength and co-ordination but there is just something very satisfying about drilling holes in things! The kids are always collecting various recyclables and asking ‘can I drill a hole in this?’ – soft plastics like lids and containers are great for beginners.
It isn’t always easy to connect pieced of wood together with nails, so adding some woodworking glue (or a low temp hot glue gun) makes it easy to attach small pieces and odd shapes.
Woodworking is great for fine and gross motor muscle development and co-ordination, and offers lots of opportunities for problem solving, spatial awareness and using a variety of skills, but it’s also a great creative medium.
It can be a little hard to build something with just nails and wood and have it turn out the way you want, but adding loose parts and markers or paints make it easy to add those little touches to really make your space ship just how you want it.
All of our kids have had enjoyed hammering and drilling and creating with a medium they don’t often get to explore. Getting into woodworking has been great fun!
Do you do woodworking with your kids?
I’d love to hear what you have in your woodworking set.