Tools For Granddaughter

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Forum topic by cowboyj posted 11-30-2010 06:29 AM 1221 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 3121 days

11-30-2010 06:29 AM

My granddaughter is 10 years old. She has spent some time working with me in the shop, building some simple projects she has imagined. She has operated a chop saw, drill press, and hand drill, with close supervision and assistance. Now she has asked for woodworking tools for Christmas. I feel that operating most hand tools would be difficult (and tedious) for her, so I am thinking of a small drill-driver and a set of drills/driver bits, or maybe a Dremel kit.

Do any of you have experience with kids of her age using tools? What would you suggest?

-- Jerry

10 replies so far

View swirt's profile


3451 posts in 3178 days

#1 posted 11-30-2010 06:53 AM

Regardless of age, kids need safe ways to hold their work, so a pair of clamps are important. A real hammer. A real saw (the little bent handled pull saws work well for kids). I would stay away from the electric drills and dremels, They can get away from a kid pretty quickly. A hand drill can be very useful and effective for pre-drilling screws or nails. If you have a need to go electric, I would go with a low powered screwdriver.

There is some good info on this site regarding tools for kids

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4331 days

#2 posted 11-30-2010 07:43 AM

My partner/wife founded and runs a “family build night” at a local low-income housing community, and we recently got the higher ups to agree to a woodworking project for a group of kids who range from probably 8 or so up to 12 (the group has kids as young as 2, but I think the youngest to build a bench was 8). Pictures of my prototype for the project here, we added a ¾” or 1” (I had various scraps lying around) dowel between the legs to make a handle, if you flip it over it becomes a toolbox!

We used the jig pictured here (with the addition of an “L” bracket tying the uprights to the top of the sawhorse to keep them better braced) to keep the saw contained and had kids cutting safely all night.

We used pocket screws for the joinery: The drill bit was guided and contained.

We let ‘em use a battery powered driver with square drive and a clutch to run the screws in. The clutch or some sort of torque cutoff is very important for little hands. This worked fairly well for soft-pine, better, actually, than the hand driver, but without assistance the hand driver may be a safer option.

We used a brace and bit for bigger holes for the handles.

As swirt suggests, for one well behaved kid with good coordination, a pull-saw may work better than a push saw (A third grader who’s used my shop to build a few things gets along well with the pull saw, especially for smaller cuts), but with a good alignment jig a push saw can be faster and require less coordination. Hammers and nails rock as a basic coordination activity, and I’d love to have our kids do more with that, but it’s not a great joinery technique for usable woodworking. We have, however, had ‘em do string art, which gives ‘em an excuse to run in a lot of nails.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3321 days

#3 posted 11-30-2010 11:23 AM

a mallet not too heavy and the butcheisel set from Crown is nice for young hands
small bow saws (can cut both ways by turn the bow) fretsaw, coping saw, small hammer for nails
eggbeaterdrill like the small millerfalls , nr. 2 or 3 smoothing plane ,a low angle blockplane, blockplane
then there is the small gentsaws from Crown too but change the handles to homemade D handles =better controle
if you will give her a very little backsaw like the gentsaws condsider the zonasaws with 32 or 24 teeth
pr. inch they make some real nice very thin cuts they are great for small things they maybee
use 20 strokes more than a more normal sized backsaw on dovetails but for small hands its nice
and they maybee don´t hold as long in sharpness but its a sheap saw and if you want to know more
about the saw take a look at Mafe´s rewiew of them and Chris Swarzses blog he gives them big credit too

just think handtools but in smaller versions then maybee two to three years a handrill in a drillstand can
bee a thing to consider

good luck and take care

View swirt's profile


3451 posts in 3178 days

#4 posted 11-30-2010 06:48 PM

Dennis and Dan have some great suggestions there. The only thing I would disagree with are recommendation of the zona saws for kids. Don’t get me wrong, I like my zona saw, but they are so thin that they are easily bent by uncertain hands trying to use more force than finesse.

If sawing is a primary exercise you want to encourage, then I highly recommend the Stanley cam miterbox for kids (its not made for kids but it might as well be).
It is very simple to use. The saw is pretty crappy and needs a tuning but it has the nice feature of bottoming out when it cuts through the wood. If your granddaughter is a careful kid then it would work much better to just get the box and use a pullsaw with it. The cam clamps work in both directions.

@Dan that sawing jig is an awesome idea!

-- Galootish log blog,

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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4331 days

#5 posted 11-30-2010 07:41 PM

Just a note on chisels: When I was a kid I had a set of carving chisels, and I’d been very very carefully educated in using them. One day a friend was over, was trying to make a cut with the grasping hand in front of the chisel, I said “wait! stop!”, he said “I know what I’m doing” and promptly stabbed himself in the wrist.

Did some permanent nerve damage to sensation in one of his fingers.

So there’s also a level of tools that’s completely usable when a kid has had decent training and background, but that kid may not be able to restrain other children who are overconfident or under safety-trained.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3321 days

#6 posted 11-30-2010 08:18 PM

the only reason why I mention the zena saws was becourse my daughter tryed one of them and enjoy´d
how easy it was to cut with compare to the other she had used (and not very well when it comes to
start a cut, niice sawing Jiig Dan , we will try it and see how she can work with it :-)


View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 3033 days

#7 posted 11-30-2010 09:29 PM

I would stay clear of chisels, myself. I am personally, more afraid of a well honed chisel, than I am operating things such as a tablesaw, or even a skilsaw…

All of them will do damage, some more than others, but a chisel will do the most damage, yet so harmlessly… A decent bevel will navigate bones, and strike at the tendons… not to mention, it generally doesnt get as much fear by most people, as say the tablesaw.
—-When ever I heard the TS start up, I know right then and there than all my attenion needs to go to the task at hand… but with a chisels, I am guilty, of leaving them precariously placed on the edge of a table, or driving toward myself….

I would get her a power Screwdriver(one of those $40 Ryobi’s for example) since I doubt they kick much, and I am sure they have less of a chance of doing harm(one day I got careless with the drill, and proceeded to stop the chuck with my gloved hand… the teeth on the chuck almost instantly made mince meat out of my leather glove)..

I might also try an egg beater drill, for making holes.

Dont forget, things like the T-square,level, and carpenter’s square(believe me… I still keep forgetting to pick one up.. and kick myself everytime I do a project.. lol), and lest not forget a good measuring tape.

That said, at 10, I can see possibly getting her one of those dremel Trios.. Since I think at that age, she would be old enough to operate a jigsaw, a drill, and WITH CAREFUL INSTRUCTION a router(granted a small one at that).

—-That said, I dont quite think its time at that age, to get her a Tablesaw, a skilsaw, or even a razor knife…

All that being said, you probably know your granddaughter better than me, so who am I to jump to conclusion taht she is a tad young for those things… she might be fine…

From personal experience, I still am fond of the memories of when I was maybe a little younger, going to visit my grandfather, and making candle stick holders, out of logs, on the drill press. I remember it was the best thing since sliced bread… Of course I had supervision, but I was always a careful lad.. I still do cherish the fact that I do have all of my fingers… lol…. it helps in math… lol..

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3321 days

#8 posted 11-30-2010 11:02 PM

ohyah as Newbie say goodlayout tools ofcourse and woodfiles and rasp of diferent sices , handscrabers
and a rreal woodworking bench just lower maybee a little shorter or if you want to make her to one of all trade DIY women
then add a metalvice to a utilitybench instead then you can add files to the toolcollection as well
and stealdrills :-)
you will see in a year or two witch way she wants to go or prefer what to make then you can begin
to give her tools thats more or less is a better match the sice of work
nearly forgot to say , she maybee can use yours the first times but as other woodworkers she needs diffrent
kind of clamps, and there is were you can score big points and spare , money you simply make them yourself
such L J and there is a bunch of them and don´t forget a propper toolbox / Tote(or better make one with her
you as the supervisor and sponsor of the wood and drawing) its a great fammelie project to learn
skills with (to start with have the wood planed to size so it just need a tuch up by a
blockplane or a small smother) next is to build a sawbench(two) birdhouses


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3342 days

#9 posted 12-01-2010 12:06 AM

I had only limited success getting my daughters interested in any woodworking. But the best success I had was with scrollsaw projects. And with my kids painting was usually one of the project highlights for them.

I’ve also noticed that over the years my girls have been very interested in doing sewing projects when they are visiting my quilting-crazed sister and only occasionally interested in sewing at home. Your enthusiasm toward woodworking with her is likely to have a big impact on her interest in woodworking – much more than whether she owns a few tools. Asking for tools might be her way of asking for more time with you in your shop.

-- Greg D.

View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3203 days

#10 posted 12-01-2010 03:58 PM

Some tools for Christmas sounds great. I would start with building her a tool box, perhaps her name engraved on it. I am certain whatever pieces you put inside she will cherish. A hammer, a carpenter pencil, a square, a tape measure, a level, pliers, screw driver. Dust mask, saftey glasses. Maybe a little cowhide tool belt. (They do make pink ones now as well) As far as power tools I wouldn’t give her any yet. She can come to your shop with her tool box and you can work together on your power and cutting and drilling tools.
Keep in mind-giving tools at christmas is just the start, you will want to find projects throughout the year for the BOTH of you to do. She wants to be like her Granpa !

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

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