Woodworking with Kids - Shop Safety

by Paul Meisel ‎11-06-2009 01:34 PM - edited ‎11-06-2009 01:46 PM

Blog #3


Comments on past posts


My first two blogs resulted in some interesting and welcome reader posts.  I appreciate the input and look forward to learning from all who have worked with children.

Two people mentioned the point of that not all children have an interest in woodworking.  This is true.  The comment "...woodworking either grabs a kid's imagination or he simply tolerates it" is well put.  Last school year one of my twelve students told me she decided she didn't like woodworking.  She had seemed to enjoy it at first but one day she told me she decided she didn't like woodworking.        


Children do have their own unique personalities.  We can't expect them all to fall in love with woodworking.  But let's at least provide an opportunity to experience this hobby so they can decide for themselves.


On the subject of age, one post mentioned that their 2-1/2 year old loved pounding nails in wood.  That got me thinking about my 3 and 4 year old grandsons.  Maybe it's time I invited them into my shop!  Has anyone else tried working with very young children?


Although the focus of my blog is on working with children ages 8 and older, I am open to sharing reader experiences with children of all ages.      


On the subject of safety


Although your young workers will be anxious to get started in the shop, you must let them know what you expect from them before you allow them in the shop.

Begin by defining the word safety.  It means: The condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt; freedom from harm or danger; being safe and acting in a safe manner. The term "safety" includes having a positive attitude.  Students should agree to act responsibly, dress appropriately, respect tools, the work area, the teacher, and the other students.  To make sure they understand the meaning of the word, have your students to give examples, in their own words, of the word safety.  For example: "Wearing life preservers when you are in a boat is a good safety practice."


Next define the word habit.  Habit means: Tendency to act in a certain way; usual way of acting.  Doing a thing over and over makes a habit. In the shop, safe practices must be practiced until they become a habit.  Ask your students to give examples in their own words.  For example: "Looking both ways before crossing the street is a good habit."


With a clear understanding of the words safety and habit students must see how these words relate to them as they work in the shop.  Go over each of the following points and stress how they relate to the words safety and habit.


Dress correctly


Never wear loose fitting cloths. These can catch on a vise or worse, in a machine.  Long hair should be tied back.  Remove any loose jewelry.  Safety glasses must be worn at all times when in the shop.




























Wear eye protection and keep long hair tied back out

of the way.  Never wear loose jewelry or baggy clothes.


Good Shop Housekeeping


Keep the work table and the floor around it clean and neat.  Pick up any scraps of wood so no one steps on them and twists an ankle.   Put tools away when you have finished using them.  Carry tools with the sharp end pointing down and away from you.


Avoid Horseplay


The word horseplay simply means rough play that can result in someone getting hurt.  It means clowning around and generally misbehaving.  Examples would be wrestling, pushing, shoving or tripping another student.  Practical jokes are a form of horseplay.


Ask each child to give you examples of behavior that would be considered horseplay.


Cartoon.jpgPractical jokes are a form of horseplay.  There is no place

for practical jokes in the wood shop.


Report Any Injuries or Broken Tools


Be sure your students let you know if they get hurt.  Tell them to report any cuts or abrasions no matter how small.  Even getting a sliver should all be reported.  That way you can investigate whether the student was using a tool incorrectly or if you need to re-demonstrate any procedures. 

Have a first aid kit with the following items:

1) Adhesive bandages in various sizes for minor cuts.

2) A fine tweezers with sterilized needles for splinter removal.

3) Eyewash and cup for eye care and a bottle of re-hydrating eye drops.

4) Alcohol cleansing pads or antiseptic wipes for abrasions.

5) A list of phone numbers of parents if you are working with kids other than your own.


Most Safety Rules are Common Sense. 


Acting safely in the shop is usually just a matter of using good judgment and common sense.  Consider posting the following list of general safety rules where students can see them.  Go over them with your students every couple of class sessions.  


If anyone violates a safety rule suspend their right to work until they have made amends.  I require students to complete a written essay explaining how their behavior was irresponsible and what they are going to do to correct it.    


General Safety Rules


1.) Always wear safety glasses or other eye protection when working in the shop.

2.) Running is not permitted in the shop.

3.) Horseplay (pushing, shoving or goofing around) is not permitted in the shop.

4.) Never throw tools or materials.

5.) Keep your work area neat.  Pick up wood scraps which have fallen on the floor.

6.) Report any broken or unsafe tools immediately.

7.) Report any injuries immediately.

8.) Put away tools when you are through using them.  Clean up your work area.  Do any clean-up assignment you are asked to do.

9.) When carrying tools, always keep the pointed end down and away from you.


Although this will get you started, emphasizing safety must be done each time you have kids in your shop.  Before beginning each work period ask for one or two examples of safety practices that would apply to the unit you are covering. 


With the subject of safety fresh in their minds, it's about time to get the kids started on some type of project. 


Since sanding will be required on just about every project you will do, it is an appropriate place to start.


In my next blog I will share my method of teaching kids how to sand easily and without becoming bored.   


Paul Meisel
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties


on ‎11-17-2009 06:27 PM

Paul I have two boys Mark is 5yrs old and Mike is 3yrs old if I want time in the shop they have to be out there with me. The hard part is keeping there interest that is why we have an area that is not shop it is there toy space. But when they want to hammer nails I have an old archery target I let them drive old nails in to it keeps them happy. The boys have there own safety glasses and ear muffs they also have small dust masks there uncle got them.

Mark has nailed a few bird houses together and mike just nailed his first one Monday they are going to paint them Thursday it should be great the will have more paint on them than the bird houses but they are making them for Christmas presents for there mom and aunts. and they love building the presents so maybe in 10 or 15 years I will have some one to help me in the shop.


M Lesch

by ric mauro
on ‎01-07-2010 10:11 AM

Hi Paul

I teach kids woodworking in my shop i did this hammering project with them and they loved it. Do you have any other projects?I am looking for more idea's. Thanks


Bolton Ontario


by andy322
on ‎05-28-2010 04:52 AM

hahaha that pic is funny