Woodworking for Fun and (no) Profit

  by Erik Wolgemuth

There’s a unique satisfaction that comes with the accomplishment of a project dreamed up by your own mental capacities and constructed by your own two hands. This is true regardless of the quality of the project…be it a new dining room table, inlaid with various patterns, or the pegboard organizational system hung in the garage. You identified the need, planned accordingly and saw it to completion.

The identified project needs for your kids are likely a bit less pressing than yours, but they’ll relish the work and accomplishment just as heartily. The beauty of such projects is that they can be built from the scrap wood that somehow accumulates over the years. You know that two feet of 2×4 you’ve been hanging on to since that bathroom shelving project? Or that sheet of plywood which has always just been part of the garage? Your time to shine, stud grade and particleboard scrap. But if you don’t have any scrap wood lying around, most neighborhood hardware stores have bins full of scrap wood they are happy to donate to eager young builders.

As with any good project, plans must first be drawn up. Don’t worry if dimensions aren’t quite to scale, the point is to figure out what’s to be created and identify the steps to get there. You’ll likely have most of the tools you need to knock out a scrap woodworking project, but springing for a nice 8-10 oz. hammer for each woodworker isn’t money ill-spent.  Here are a few project ideas to get you started:

  • A rocket ship for their action figures,
  • A house for dolls (or the returning action figure astronauts),
  • A flower pot, and
  • A (wobbly) bench for catching a breather while playing.

And just as you’ll extend forgiveness regarding fairly indecipherable blueprints, you’ll get a pass if the final project isn’t master craftsmen grade. The point is that your kids will experience the joy of creating something on their own (with a strong dadcraft assist from you).

The requisite safety instructions must be made here…and, trust me, you’ll naturally find yourself offering them within five seconds of selecting a hammer off the shelf at your local home improvement store. Being aware of surroundings, patience, accuracy and a host of other safety topics will inevitably arise. Be wise, take a more involved position when needed, man the dangerous tools, find safety goggles and any form of helmetry is a fun touch as well.

Dadcraft Pro Tip: The creation here easily lends itself to decoration if you’ve got paint or markers lying around, and it’s nicely giftable as well.


After you’ve foraged for wood scraps, consider foraging up some grub for your crew. Or after this shop class, go for a little science. Or if a little additional guidance might be helpful, consider this dadcraft Favorite: free building workshops.

Photo by Jay Mantri, public domain.