Get Them Started Young – Toolbox Project

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases (more).

Boy woodworking
Photo By D'Arcy Norman

All little kids want to help you build stuff.  I remember my dad working on our house when I was five or six.  I wanted to help so bad – so he gave me a 16-inch 4 x 4, a handful of 16d nails, and a 12 ounce pea shooter for a hammer.  “It would really help if you would pound all of these nails into that piece of wood,” he said.  I was in heaven.

So when your little guy/gal wants to help you with your next woodworking project, give them something good to do.  And a good project to work on is a simple tool box for the kid.  They need something to carry all their stuff in while they’re helping you, right?  Invite their friends if you want.  Their fathers will love it watching you work with their screaming loved ones while they practice 12 oz. curls.

The Dowel Handled Tool Box

The age old tried and true dowel handled tool box is a sure bet. You can get plans all over the net or you can cut list it yourself.  Make it about 18 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 8 inches tall.

Remember, kids’ attention spans are short, so cutting everything ahead of time is a good idea.  Other than the wow factor when the saw starts up, watching you cut on the table saw is right up there with doing homework on Sunday or cleaning your room.

Find some ¾ pine or plywood and cut your sides and ends.  Rabbet the sides 3/8” deep to fit over the ends and then rabbet the bottoms of the sides and ends to accept the bottom of the tool box.  The rabbet depth should be the same depth as the thickness of your bottom piece.  Now hold your pieces together so you can measure your bottom.  Sure, you can use math to figure out the size of your bottom, but why go to the trouble?  A little less or a little more on the depth of the rabbet and your pre-cut bottom will be too big or too small.

Finally, You Can Use That Closet Pole You’ve Been Saving

Find some old wood closet pole you never threw out because it would come in handy some day and cut your handle.  If you don’t have a pole handy, you can steal one out of the back closet no one uses, but replace it right away as your wife probably won’t think it was such a brilliant idea.  Drill a hole just a little bit bigger than the handle in the top of the ends about ½ inch down from the top.  Slide the handle into each hole and pre-drill down through the top of the side into the handle for a screw or nail.

Now pre-drill the sides of the tool box for screws – two in each side.  Also pre-drill for nails.  Screw one screw in each side to line up the parts and let the kids put in the other screws.  Let them pound in all of the nails.  Your pre-drilled nail holes show them right where to put them and of course prevent splitting.  Make sure you have enough hammers for everyone, because when they’re all pounding away at the same time, everyone has a blast.  Let everyone know that the reason there are so many nails in your shop is because it’s OK to bend some here and there.  Just pull them out and put in a new one.

Now slide the handle into the holes in the end pieces, and nail or screw together, and you’re done!

If through this process, you’ve been heckled by the peanut gallery as they suck down one cold one after another, rest easy knowing –

1.      You have plenty of cold ones of your own well hidden.

2.      You have earned valuable points from your better half.

3.      You told each kid his father will help him build a bird house next weekend.

Ah, paybacks are a you know what…

Photo of author

About Brad

Brad Baker is Vice President of Operations at Miller Woodworking in the Los Angeles area, designers and builders of custom cabinetry and interior millwork for the rich and famous. They make the impossible, and their work has been featured in fancy schmantsy architectural glossies more than a few times. All that high end creative stuff aside, he maintains a strong spiritual belief that the real sign of a good woodworker is all 10 fingers. He and his wife Ann Baker co-write for HomeFixated. Ann is CEO of Publicity Pros, a firm that provides “All Things Publicity” services and training for small businesses. She’s a hopeless nerd who revels in anything and everything having to do with the technology of attracting attention. And, no joke, she loves to bake.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get access to free prizes, product sneak-peeks, reviews, how-to's and much more!

More Info | Email Privacy

3 thoughts on “Get Them Started Young – Toolbox Project”

  1. Great idea, I remember building one with my father “Best Friend” many,many moons ago. Back in the mid 80″s I helped my son build one also.
    One thing I suggest to all is have your son/daughter engrave or burn their name/date/yr on the box somewhere. You wil always be able to remember the time era.

    My son used an old engraver from Wen power tools my father passed down to me yrs ago to add his name /date. I remember he was amazed in that little tool,so I decided I needed to hide it. I just knew he would autograph my new truck if he could get his hands on it.

    Does anyone else remember Wen tools ??? I do because Im an old
    I just seen where they introduced new tools for the Diyer/weekend warriors.

    • Great suggestions Matt (both on the engraver to remember the date. . . . and then particularly on hiding the engraver to avoid any unwanted vehicle “customization”)!

  2. I can’t wait until my little guy is big enough to bring into the shop. He’s only 16 months, so we have a ways to go yet. Right now his favorite shop activity is to steal a piece of of wood the scrap bin and run around with it until something else catches his interest, at which point it gets dropped & forgotten. My time is spent deflecting him from the various hazards.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.