Woodworking for Kids

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 01-30-2016 07:56 PM 1242 reads 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When it comes to sharing woodworking with my grandkids, I keep it simple. In fact, I really don’t care if they take a shine to woodworking, I would just rather they get the opportunity to be creative.

When they come over for a visit, they don’t ask if they can do woodworking, they just ask, “Can we build?”

At this point, I have done very few structured projects, I usually just let the kids have at it with the bin of wood scraps. Kids don’t need to be told what to build with the scraps, their imaginations kick into high gear and they figure it out naturally.

I call this the “empty box effect.” An empty box is an open ended toy and a child’s imagination starts exploring all of the possibilities of what the box can become. The same thing happens with the wood scraps.

During the kids’ build sessions, there is plenty of opportunity to teach them about safety, how to use the tools, and problem solving skills.

I think that both structured and unstructured projects have their own advantages and lessons to offer, so I do not necessarily value one over the other. But I will admit that structured projects require more prep time because you have to make parts in advance.

When working in the shop, the kids are exposed to a limited set of dangers, but that is an inherent risk of having them in the shop. Overall, the exposure is controlled and gauged according to the abilities of each child.

The fear of allowing kids into the shop will never give them the opportunity to learn self-control and respect for the tools and a somewhat hazardous environment. Personally, I don’t see that it is any less hazardous letting kids ride a bike, a skateboard, or jump on a trampoline. I will not allow an unreasonable fear to keep my grandkids from such a valuable learning experience as they have in my shop.

In the end, I am trying to develop a culture of activity, creativity, and exploration in my family. I think all of the benefits of this far outweigh the perceived dangers.

And to think, I have not even mentioned the added benefit of the hours that the kids have spent with me, Grandpa Todd. There is enough content and lessons there for another blog.

I hope you enjoy the video about woodworking for kids.

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

Leave a Legacy – Share the Love, Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

18 comments so far

View Druid's profile


1230 posts in 2213 days

#1 posted 01-30-2016 08:17 PM

Great approach Todd, and they are obviously enjoying their time there with “Grandpa”.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3517 days

#2 posted 01-30-2016 08:43 PM

John – It seems to be an effective strategy so far:)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9325 posts in 3470 days

#3 posted 01-30-2016 10:49 PM


What a COOL Video with the kids playing in your shop!

Great FUN!

You might get a few more ideas from this FUN section of my website... enjoy!
... I like the cars & so did my grand kids when they were smaller…

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Liquidbrain's profile


1 post in 265 days

#4 posted 01-30-2016 11:28 PM

As a little boy of about six or seven my grandpa would let me explore my imagine in his garage with scrap wood. I had only a few tools, mainly a coping saw, a drywall rasp, a hammer and a nail punch. But I made them work. It inspired in me a love for woodworking that still exists 35 years later. Your grandkids will remember these days for the rest of their lives.

View ScottKaye's profile (online now)


467 posts in 1371 days

#5 posted 01-31-2016 12:46 AM

geez Todd.. you don’t look old enough to have grand babies.. Are you sure they really aren’t your kids instead? I wish my girls would take more of an interest in the woodshop but unfortunately they are all ready preoccupied with things like horses, girl scouts, gymnastics and boys for the eldest. L


-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3517 days

#6 posted 01-31-2016 12:51 AM

Joe L – thanks for sharing such a great resource of those kids plans!

Liquidbrain – I hope the kids look back on this time fondly.

ScottKaye – I can’t believe we have grandkids! “Grandpa Todd” seems like such an odd fit for me.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View gbear's profile


492 posts in 3517 days

#7 posted 01-31-2016 03:35 AM

Great video Todd…keep up the good work with the grandbabies…we need more woodworkers! Love it!!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Napaman's profile


5508 posts in 3495 days

#8 posted 01-31-2016 07:16 AM

Love the philosophy on kids in the shop! Very nice story.

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Napaman's profile


5508 posts in 3495 days

#9 posted 01-31-2016 07:16 AM

Love the philosophy on kids in the shop! Very nice story.

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17573 posts in 3094 days

#10 posted 01-31-2016 07:17 AM

Well done, Todd.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View robscastle's profile


3293 posts in 1622 days

#11 posted 01-31-2016 09:03 AM

Thats it I am quiting woodworking they are making better things than me!

Love the vyce and drill work!!

I will send a link to my boys so their kids can see it too!

-- Regards Robert

View JoeinGa's profile


7360 posts in 1425 days

#12 posted 01-31-2016 02:14 PM

Nice philosophy and great pictures of the kids !

Keep up the good work !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


115167 posts in 2995 days

#13 posted 01-31-2016 03:51 PM

Well done Todd great time together with the grandkids .

-- Custom furniture

View Bluepine38's profile


3336 posts in 2503 days

#14 posted 01-31-2016 05:32 PM

Great looking bunch of grandkids, I guess someone must have showed their parents that grandpa and the
shop is a great place for kids. Keep having fun, before you know it those grand kids will have great grandkids
to help you in the shop.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Roger's profile (online now)


19706 posts in 2222 days

#15 posted 01-31-2016 06:02 PM

That is awesome, and you are a really great grandpaw all the way around. Good thinking to let them do the thinking and creating.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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