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May 04, 2008

Woodshop Safety for Kids

shop safety logoMarc Spagnuolo, aka The Wood Whisperer, came up with the idea for the first week in May being designated 'Woodworkers Safety Week'.  So, to commemorate this first annual event I thought I'd come up with a video on shop safety.  But, I felt that there was a lot of information already out there on shop safety for adults but not enough for kids.

In talking with some of my woodworking friends on this subject, I learned that most were not comfortable with kids being in their shops because of safety concerns.  Granted, there are extra precautions that must be taken when kids are present, but don't let this keep you from introducing woodworking to your kids, grandchildren, or even the kids up the street.  And if you're a parent or grandparent who doesn't have a lot of knowledge around woodworking, but your kids have an interest, don't let fear of them getting hurt keep you from teaching them.

It is up to us as adult woodworkers to pass our knowledge down to those that show interest.  If we don't, who will?  Our schools?  Doubtful.  Find a child to nurture and teach what you know.  Don't be afraid to let them in because they "might" get hurt.  How did you learn?

Here are somethings to keep in mind when working with kids in your shop:

  • Make sure all your power tools are unplugged.  That way you don't have to worry about it.
  • Make sure that all the blades on your power tools are covered or lowered so they're not exposed to little fingers.
  • Stick to hand tools in the beginning no matter how old the kids are.  They need this foundation anyway.
  • Don't leave your kids unsupervised in the shop no matter how comfortable you are with their knowledge, maturity level, or skill.  Accidents can and will happen.
  • Using hand tools like hand saws can wear kids out quickly.  Watch for this, step-in and help out during these times.  When kids (and adults) get tired, mistakes are more likely to occur.
  • With that last point being said, however; don't do all the work for kids just because YOU CAN!  Let them do the work they can, and be willing to let them make mistakes on their own.  This one is tough for us parents, trust me, I know.
  • First and foremost, make it fun for them!  Let them have some say into what they build.  There are only so many bird houses a kid can make.

The video that we shot on shop safety for kids is not all encompassing, not even close.  But, it will give you some good points to help you get started.  My hope for this video is take it will make you more comfortable with having kids in your shop and for your kids to have a good and safe time with you.

If you have any questions or comments about the video after you've viewed it, just leave a your comment below the video.


References mentioned in the video:

Safety Glasses for Kids

What to look for in a good hand brace drill and where to find them 

For more information on teaching kids woodworking, check out our book,

woodshop 101 cover 




Comments (19)

Deanna Betts:

We really enjoyed your video on safety. Thank you. We look forward to future "videos". D

Glenn C:

good idea to get kids going early and safely
perhaps you should chastise your daughter for walking into the shop in bare feet at the beginning. I notice later she has runners on....

a suggestion - perhaps a video on pets in the shop - everyone seems to be so concerned about fine dust - with all the cyclone and air cleaner discussions in the forums and the danger of fine particles in the lung. But nobody seems to think of man's best friend laying on the floor in the sawdust, sucking in all that fine dust that his master is so concerned about avoiding.

Trivial I know, but I always wondered about the effect of fine dust on pets in the shop

(WR) Craig Stevens:


Thanks for your kind words about our safety video. It was really fun to make (and gave me some great time with my kids as well).

I have so many ideas of videos I want to put out. Stay tuned, and I'll do my best to get some more out.

If you know of anyone else who might benefit from this, please feel free to forward it to them.


Craig Stevens

(WR) Craig Stevens:


Thanks for your post, I appreciate it. You did catch my daughter in her bare feet when we were shooting the beginning of the video. But I did make her put shoes on when we started shooting in the shop. She's not a fan of shoes when home, so I'm constantly reminding her to put shoes on when out in the shop. That's something that could have made the video as well!

As far as pets and wood dust, I agree. We should be more cautious. Another thing that I think about as well is my dog's hearing. A dog's hearing is supposed to be more sensitive than a humans, but I'm guilty of running my power tools with him in the shop while I have on hearing protection. Maybe I'll try to dig up some more information on this.

Thanks for your thought.

Craig Stevens

Tom O'Brien:

Craig, your video was very timely for me. I'm going to Virginia soon to see my son and family, and I plan to build a little project with 5-year-old Claire. I bought the small kids' toolkit and bag from Woodcraft, and that will be her bag. I added to it a couple of the smallest size wooden handscrews I could find. Her cousin Ben is only 3, but he learned quickly how to use the handscrews and loves to show how he can spin them open or closed. The kit includes a square, a tape measure, an 8 ounce hammer, a level, and two small screwdrivers. I'll add some safety goggles when she can try them on and wiggle test them.

On shoes: Some woodworking schools have hard rules against wearing shorts or sandals in the shop.

Thanks to you and the kids for the informative video.

(WR) Craig Stevens:


Thanks for your comment. I think it's great that you're helping to teach your grandkids woodworking! You're to be commended.

I haven't seen the kid's toolkit at Woodcraft, I'll have to check it out. It sounds like a good starter kit for kids.

As far as wearing sandals in the shop, I agree. You're going to drop a piece of wood, hammer, etc, at some point, and exposed piggies are not good when this happens.

To be honest, when it comes to wearing shorts, I don't have a big problem with it. Yes, it could help prevent a scratch or two, but in the summer time it's just too hard to keep long pants on. I understand some schools having these rules in place, (insurance may play a part in it as well). But in reality, it's not very practical, especially when you're working with kids and just using hand tools.

If you have other safety procedures in place like the ones in our video, I can't see wearing shorts being a problem.

Let me know what you think about this, I'm always open to changing my mind.

Kind regards,

Craig Stevens


Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I'v just started to learn this language ;)
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

Great job bringing this important aspect of safety to the fore. When I was a lot younger I had a summer job running pieces of wood through a huge belt sander in a furniture shop in Canada. Nobody bothered to give me any instructions in the safe operation of the machine besides "be careful". I wasn't and ended up sanding my finger nail off down to the bone. Surprisingly it grew back, but I was one of the lucky ones.
Thanks for the post and video.


My son is just now old enough to where I feel comfortable letting him in the workshop with me. Thank you for providing this helpful information.

Love your safety video for kids. I love woodworking and I wish I had learned it from I was young. I fully endorse teaching kids the basics but of course in a safe environment.


nice job..

Woodworking Safety for Kids, What a great idea. Wish I had thought of it myself for my woodworking site.

Hope you continue to promote this, it is by far, a great way to help get both parents and kids interested in our wonderful woodcraft hobby.

The way it is presented is also great and I think right on top of how important safety is not only for Kids but for everyone who does wood working. Again, Great job!

This is a great article and something we have to keep in mind! I remember when I was building things with my Dad in our shop. Before we started he'd teach me about safety. At that time I was so frustrated and just wanted to get going.. but now I can fully appreciate it.

This is a great idea! I know when we were installing our Wide Plank Hardwood Floors our son was everywhere getting his fingers stuck and cut on everything. We need that!

facial cleanser:

wonderful post, thank you.

Another one is to have your tools in the hard cases they come with. Some of the saws have a lots of sharp blades etc so hiding these is the best bet.

I like your general message though to educate the young ones so they can act safely around the power tools.



A gas waterheater in a environment where creating dust explosion hazard is a NO GO.

Thank you very much for your nice article. I think safety is the most important factor while working with rotating and sharp tools. My kids always try to do some thing in my work shop. Your article always be in my mind while my kids work in my wood shop.

katie stevens:

ha ha! Making these videos was a lot of fun! And yes, I should have been wearing shoes :( Sorry!!

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