preschooler woodworking fun

Did I just type those three words into the title for this post? Does "preschooler woodworking fun" sound like an oxymoron to you, too?  I feel a thrum of anxiety each time I pull out wood working tools, so the idea of adding an exuberant preschooler to the mix is definitely not my idea of fun. There are those intrepid and fearless folk among us who have high tolerance for such things, and maybe even enjoy woodworking with preschoolers (my friend Faith, for example). However, I am not one of those people. So what, might you ask, possessed me to trundle down to the garage this morning, little man at my heels, to rummage for scrap lumber, cut it down with a saw, sort through our nail & screw bin, and then pull out the electric drill?

Here's why. I was using a phillips head screwdriver to repair a toy and my 4 year old was intrigued, so I handed him the screwdriver. He had a great sense of accomplishment when he had replaced the screws and I thought to myself, "That wasn't so bad. We should do more of this..." And off we went.


1 enthusiastic preschooler
Small scraps of lumber (I cut my board down to 10 inches, which seemed a manageable size)
120 and/or 220 grit sand Paper
A small saw
A workbench vise
A pencil & ruler
A drill and set of bits
Screws of varying sizes
A screw driver and phillips head

STEP 1: If you need to cut down your lumber scrap, use a pencil and ruler to mark where you would like to cut.  Secure the wood in a vise and use your saw to cut along the pencil mark.  (Are you coveting my yellow vise jaw pads? They are fabulous.)  Do keep a close eye on your preschooler.  If you're feeling brave, you can have him place his hands on your arm or elbow to "help" you use the saw.

STEP 2:  Hand the wood and some sandpaper to your preschooler so he can smooth out the rough edges. This is my favorite part.  Not scary at all, except when he decided to try out the sandpaper on my hand. (It's "sandpaper," sweet love, not "handpaper.")

STEP 3: Rummage around and find an assortment of screws.

STEP 4: Match drill bit sizes approximately to the screw sizes.

STEP 5:  If you like, you can use a pencil to mark where you plan to drill holes, or you can drill a random pattern of holes.  Secure your wood once again in the vise and use various sized drill bits to drill holes.  Once the wood is drilled, use sand paper to smooth the wood around the holes.

STEP 6: Hand a bucket of screws and a couple of screw drivers to your preschooler so he can get busy with his fabulous woodworking project.


My little one was feeling frustrated that the tall screws were sticking up, so this morning we glued a piece of wood beneath the first and drilled the holes deeper.  Just make sure not to drill your holes all the way through the wood as the ends of the screws are sharp and poke-y!

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