Looking for beginner tools for a 4 year old

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Forum topic by Ben posted 12-28-2016 12:38 AM 1244 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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381 posts in 2936 days

12-28-2016 12:38 AM

I’ll be building my nephew a miniature workbench for his upcoming birthday.
(It will also double as my sister’s coffee table, as they have none.)

I’m wondering what you guys would recommend as far as basic, beginner tools?

Would you go for a “set” marketed to kids, or start with one or two “real” tools?

The sets geared toward kids seem like toys to me. I’m wondering if he’d be better off with a real hammer, and a real saw to start out with.

Also, any recommendations for a real, but small, starter vise?

I’d appreciate any input.


11 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1820 posts in 2396 days

#1 posted 12-28-2016 12:43 AM

Real tools for sure. Fake tools will just discourage beginners since they don’t work well. If he’s not old enough for a saw, then maybe layout tools like a combination square or t-bevel. Granted, he won’t be able to use it effectively but it does have fun moving parts.

-- See my work at and

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3076 days

#2 posted 12-28-2016 12:44 AM

Hes only 4
Toy tools .
“your sister may not appreciate real saw cutting furniture, or hammer pounding holes in walls”
Wookbench table is good idea !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View onoitsmatt's profile


394 posts in 1255 days

#3 posted 12-28-2016 12:45 AM

My son will be 4 next month. I let him (under my supervision) use a dull coping saw, hammer and nails and a screwdriver with screws. He also has a small eggbeater drill with a dull bit. He loves wearing safety glasses too.

No tips for you on a vise but you could probably make one from threaded rod, a barrel nut and scrap wood.

-- Matt - Phoenix, AZ

View OSB's profile


147 posts in 605 days

#4 posted 12-28-2016 01:25 AM

That really depends on the kid but from my experience most could use another year or two before getting their hands on real tools.

Maybe go to Harbor Freight and get him a set of their smallest plastic clamps, a tape measure, a jewelers hammer, safety glasses and a tool belt.

I got my niece a 3 gallon bucket, one of the nylon organizers to go around it, an organizer/seat bucket top and a bunch of Playdough to put in it. When she starts making things beside “snakes” with it, I will start to think about tools.

View dhazelton's profile


2786 posts in 2376 days

#5 posted 12-28-2016 01:45 AM

Would your sister care if he hammers and saws on her new coffee table? Just asking.

Otherwise I also say it depends on the individual. Some kids are very advanced and some can barely get out of their own way. Like adults when you get down to it.

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


12211 posts in 2459 days

#6 posted 12-28-2016 07:43 AM

A box of various sizes and shapes of wood blocks and a workbench/table. Fuel his imagination and develop a love for building things, the tools come later. He will love doing anything that you are doing with him.

-- Rick M,

View Runner's profile


66 posts in 852 days

#7 posted 12-28-2016 09:49 AM

My son loves his Red Toolbox. The tools are decent quality and small enough for his 8 year old hands. He takes all my scraps and makes anything from crossbows to boxes. We even built his workbench using those tools.

-- Kjell - Eau Claire WI

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3644 days

#8 posted 12-28-2016 12:57 PM

My grandson uses my saw bench as his work bench and has real tools.
Here is the list:
Hammer: removable plastic tip and rubber tip
Saw: used (with broken teeth) Japanese saw and a small dovetail saw with my supervision only.
Plane: old cheap (free) plane with dull blade but cuts good enough to chamfer corners.
Drill: egg beater drill used with a dull drill bit or a counter sink bit.
and pencils (big lead), square and wood (soft pine and mdf), some wood screws and a Phillips screw driver

mostly we cut, drill and turn screws.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2040 days

#9 posted 12-28-2016 01:25 PM

I gave mine real tools at 3 or 4, but a compass saw was the only one that could really cut and I watched and taught them how to use it. They were fine with it but if they weren’t I wouldn’t have given it to them. They’ve never cut themselves with it and they actually saw with proper stance sometimes, it’s funny. Other than that I got them some small size hammers at one of the Borgs, gave them C clamps, a brace, broken folding rule. I have a #3 plane that they can use but I don’t leave it on their workbench with the rest of their tools. They come to get it and I watch them with it.

Someone also got them a toy tool set from Home Depot that had dial calipers and a wrench and driver that fit some plastic bolts and nuts that came with it. I drilled some holes in their workbench and they could use the bolts to attach pieces of wood or whatnot to the bench.

The countersink bit in a drill is a good idea.

View johnstoneb's profile (online now)


2987 posts in 2252 days

#10 posted 12-28-2016 01:53 PM

Do a search for airframer he did a series of projects for his boy.

Here is one of them

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3644 days

#11 posted 12-28-2016 02:14 PM

Also, mini tape measure from the lowes/HD (comes with key ring easily removed).
and this tool box kit was a hit

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

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