Book Review: The Kids' Building Workshop

15 Woodworking Projects for Kids and Parents to Build Together is one of the few good books about carpentry for kids today. Parents who want to introduce their kids to basic carpentry will find it a useful resource book, too.


About Kids’ Building Workshop

The husband-and-wife team of J. Craig and Barbara Robertson are its authors. Their daughters, Camille and Allegra, contributed to it. J. Craig is an experienced carpenter who likes to work with children in his projects. 

Barbara is an accomplished person herself. She has directed the education department of the Williams College Museum of Art. She has also coordinated hands-on workshops and, thus, knows a thing or two about them. Under her leadership, the museum was awarded for its instructional excellence in art education.


The award was the 2000 Distinguished Cultural Institution Award. The Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education gave the recognition. The Robertsons developed a basic carpentry guide for parents and their children. The simple yet functional projects in it provide kids with information about basic woodworking.

Both parents and children must become involved in the projects for the best results. Storey Kids published the book. Interested individuals can buy it on for a reasonable price.

Pros and Cons of  The Book

Based on the reviews, the basic carpentry guide for kids have its share of pros and cons. Keep in mind that it’s a kid-oriented book discussing the essentials of carpentry. Be sure to set realistic expectations. This is especially true if your children already have basic carpentry skills.


Wide Range of Projects

You will find 15 projects that your kids will also enjoy making. You can start with the basics to build their confidence in their skills. Your first projects can be game boards, then birdhouses, play sets, and lemonade stands. You don’t have to pressure your kids about timetables.

You may set an hour or two on weekends for working on a project. Your mutual delight will come in the form of a finished product that you both created. In time, your kids can progress from basic to intermediate projects.

child playing

You can even suggest making their own variations on the design. You may, for example, experiment with the stool design.


Detailed Sections

The book is divided into two sections thus its easy readability. These sections are:

1. Setting Up Shop: Getting to Know Your Tools. This section introduces the basic carpentry principles and practices for kids. These include measuring, sawing, hammering, and sawing activities.

You and your kids should read the section together. If you’re a beginner yourself, you will pick up useful tips to get started on the right foot. If you’re already an experienced carpenter, you can better explain carpentry to kids.


2. Down to Business: Building Your Own Projects. This section puts the techniques learned in the first section to work. You can browse through the 15 projects and decide which one to start on ASAP.

Keep in mind that all these projects need a competent adult in the workshop. You have to guide and help your kids, as well as work alongside them. You should never leave kids with basic skills in a workshop on their own!


Easy to Follow The Instructions

The book is, indeed, suitable for young carpenters and their parents. The instructions are in clear step-by-step detail with little to no complicated terms. You can read the instructions and put them into action soon after.

Aside from the step-by-step text instructions, you also have cutting diagrams for each project. You don’t have to second-guess your cutting patterns. But you must be careful about your measurements considering the carpenter’s adage – measure twice, cut once.


All the projects also have accompanying black-and-white photos. While the photos are clear, the authors could have done a better job with colored pictures. Kids like looking at photos, which can encourage them to take on the projects.


Sensible Advice on Safety

As the adult, you are always reminded by the authors to take over the repetitive and hazardous jobs. This is especially true when using power tools, which present a higher risk of injury. The authors also emphasized the importance of letting the kids have fun.


The success of each project largely rests on the kids’ willing cooperation. Plus, it also makes the process more enjoyable for everybody. But there are also a few cons in the book.


No Glossary

Several carpentry-specific words were introduced in context in the two sections. But since there’s no glossary, you can have a challenging time determining their meanings.


Many words are also mentioned in earlier chapters. But their meanings aren’t explained until later. Sometimes, the explanation comes after several chapters!


Simplified Discussions

Of course, the simplified discussions are essential for beginners. But when kids already have the basic skills, these can be repetitive, even boring. But when you consider the clear, precise language used, this is a minor issue.

kid with hammer


Black and White Photos

In an age when colored photos are the norm, the black-and-white photos can be a bummer. Many readers also complain that a few of the photos are low in quality.


Aside from these few demerits, the book has informative contents and attractive layout. No wonder it’s popular among parents with young carpenters at home.

Final Verdict

The Kids’ Building Workshop is a must-buy for parents who want to teach their kids basic carpentry skills. You may or may not have these skills yourself but you can learn them along with your children.

You only need a few manual tools to get started on carpentry, too. If you’re looking for a productive way to spend time with your kids, you should buy this book ASAP.

Parents shouldn’t be afraid of introducing their kids to carpentry. When you make woodworking projects with them, you’re building their overall health. Studies have shown that woodworking develops eye-hand coordination, problem-solving skills, and independence.

Your children will also develop their mental and emotional skills. You will also love spending time with them as they develop their potentials. So buy this book now and get started!

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