Building busy kids
Give children a hammer and some wood, and see how they smile.
It is a sad fact that schools no longer offer woodworking and arts & crafts as part of the school curriculum. Having done most of my schooling overseas I was lucky enough to be one of ‘those girls’ that opted for woodworking over home economics. This after a failed experiment in making stewed fruit to which I added salt instead of sugar!

The memory of my very first woodworking project is still fresh in my mind. We had to build a birdhouse, and never having used any form of tools before, I was rushed to the hospital after cutting off the top of my index finger with a hacksaw. I still have the scar to prove it! This was the foundation for my lifelong love of DIY and woodworking.

I personally feel that it is important for kids to get involved in after-school activities. Not every child wants to play rugby, or be a drum majorette. I have two boys who much preferred to bang around in the workshop making who knows what.  I can still have a giggle today when I think of some of the unusual projects that were handed to me. I have been the proud owner of a three-legged coffee table with two short and one long leg, a bookcase that swayed from side-to-side, a birdhouse that no self-respecting bird would dream of inhabiting, and so many more objects d’art!

Getting started

If you plan to get your kids involved in DIY, the first step is to introduce them slowly to tools, both manual and power tools. Take them along to your local hardware store and let them see first hand the wide range of tools available.

Skil have a sander that is just perfect for young kids: The Octo Sander comes with a range of accessories and is just the right size and weight for a budding DIY enthusiast. Other tools to consider would be: a cordless screwdriver or drill/driver, lightweight hammer, assorted clamps and a bench vise for holding projects.

You will be amazed at how imaginative kids can be with a couple of pieces of wood, a hammer and a few nails, a sander and some paint. Clean out an area in the workshop, as the best part of any project is the amount of mess they can make!  As their skills and confidence develop the projects become more attractive – and eventually, even useful!

A good start is to let kids make their own tool caddy. This is a simple enough project to tackle - if dad cuts the wood.

Workshop essentials for budding DIY Kids:
  • A solid workstation or workbench
  • Pieces of softwoods, such as laminated pine
  • An assortment of wood screws and nails
  • Small power tools and a selection of hand tools

Over the recent December school holidays I launched the first DIY Kids courses, and I’m proud to say that it was a resounding success. For more information on DIY for kids, visit:

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