How to Get Kids Interested in Woodworking?

Last night, I was at the workbench, and I mentioned to my 5-year-old daughter that I was making some mallets. She announced that SHE was going to make mallets, too.

She promptly found a piece of pine and cut it to length with her little saw (with a little help from me, just keeping the saw in the kerf).

Next, she got out her plane and started doing this →

She’s using her #2 smoothing plane to make a chamfer on the edge of her workpiece.  (Her little sister is happily watching in the background.)  Funny thing is, I don’t remember showing her how to do that. I asked her how she learned it, and she said she just saw me do it.

Kids are quick learners!

Not bad work for a 5-year-old.

Anyhow, she didn’t end up using that piece for her project.

She cut another piece, and we used a brace and bit to bore a hole through it.  Then we inserted a dowel.  She says the mallet is for her little brother.

I hope she means it’s a gift and not something to apply to him…

She decided to make another mallet, since we had some materials left over.

After that, she asked to use my set of leather punches, so I dug them out for her.  She spent quite a long time decorating each side of each mallet.

I think I’m going to have to learn to carve.  The sides of my mallets would look much nicer with some simple carvings on them.

About an hour later, she showed me her finished mallets, and we put her tools away.

This was her first real woodworking project.  Before this, she has merely played with her tools on bits of scraps.  This time, she decided what she wanted to make, thought the project through, and persisted until it was finished.

So, how do you get kids interested in working wood?  Let them watch you work.  Tell them what you’re making.  Give them real tools and real wood to play with.

Then turn them loose.

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3 Responses to How to Get Kids Interested in Woodworking?

  1. Ben St. John says:

    This is AWESOME.

  2. Jeff Mayer says:

    Kids pick up on so, so much more than you think they do. That’s a little scary too, because they can’t yet fully differentiate the good from the stuff you say and do when you look away for a split-second and the saw slices the tip of your finger.

    Thanks for a nice story.

  3. As your daughters get older, I’ve got some projects you might be interested in doing over at my blog – I teach woodworking from late elementary to high school. And it’s always nice to be able to work around the young one’s with hand tools.

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