Introduction: KinderShop Project, a Rustic Cabin

KinderShop is a collection of ideas and plans to allow an adult to teach children woodworking skills even though, in many cases,.the adult may not actually have much woodworking experience. This project is a big hit with the kids. It is a rustic cabin 6 inches square. The roof comes off to allow access to the inside. It also makes a great holiday decoration. The only tools required are a miter box saw and a tape measure. All hand tools. The steps to follow will show how to build this in an afternoon.

Step 1: Obtain and Mark Base

For a base you will need rigid surface on which to attach the constructed cabin. Although you could use cardboard or plywood, I like to use a ceramic tile. Ceramic tiles are nice because children can color on them with crayons or tempera paint to do "landscaping" of their little house and it can easily repeatedly be cleaned off and redone. I got this one for less than a dollar.

On the tile mark a 6 inch square. You can place it anywhere on the tile but I placed mine in the exact middle. (That is because THERE IS a hyphen in anal-retentive and it is 0.187" +/- .010" wide.) Let the child help decide the location and do the measuring. I am surprised more people do not know what a great math training aid a tape measure is. Good time to buy the kid his or her first tape measure.

Step 2: Cut Roof to Size

The roof is just a piece of sandpaper cut to size and folded in half. The reason it is done now is so you can use the extra to sand the pieces after cutting. A used 80 grit because I though it was a nice color for a roof. Let the kid choose the color. Sandpaper is 11" by 9" and you want the roof piece to be 7-1/2" by 9". Measure and mark 7-1/2" and cut with scissors. Again, the extra is to sand the cuts on the wood.

Step 3: Tools, Material, Plan of Attack

A miter box saw is an excellent first saw. The saw is held either square or at 45 degrees from your work and is very safe. You can get an inexpensive miter box and saw for less than $10.

Basic Miter Box Saw...

I use a Stanley FatMax back saw and I bought the box separately. It is really a nice saw for the money and is larger so both your and a child's hand can fit on the handle. They are readily available on EBay and I have never paid more than $15, including shipping.

Better Saw

You will need glue. I recommend Elmer's glue-all in a 1.25 oz bottle. This is the perfect size for small hands. Make sure it is Glue-All and not school glue.

You will need about 6 feet of 3/4" square dowel. This can be found at your home center.

Wood Source.

Now you need to decide if: you will do the cutting exclusively, the child will cut with your hand also on the saw, or the child will cut solo with your close supervision. This is a discussion that depends on the age, maturity, and coordination of the child. In all cases let the child help with the measuring and marking, Best math lesson they will get for a long time. I recommend that you cut as you assemble, as this will give the glue time to dry between steps. It also breaks the job down into smaller different tasks and helps with attention span issues.

Step 4: Saw and Assemble First Layer

For the first layer you will need to cut, two pieces 6" long, one piece 4-1/2" long, and one piece 3" long. For each piece, mark its length and then place the saw to cut, on the waste side, right next to the line. Sand cut edges and glue to the base tile as shown in the photo. Where ever wood touches wood or wood touches tile, there should be glue.

Included are the plans and directions in the attached PDF.

Step 5: Saw and Assemble Second Layer

For the second layer you will need to cut, four pieces 2" long and two pieces 1-1/2" long. Sand the cut edges and glue them to the first layer as shown in the photo. It is now apparent that there are four windows and one door.

Step 6: Saw and Assemble Third Layer

The pieces are to be cut the same size as the previous step. Sand cut edges and glue to the second layer.

Step 7: Saw and Assemble Fourth Layer

The four layer is only an 1/8" thick and is made from paint sticks. You can get them free at the paint department at you home center. Get three.

Cut two pieces 6" long. Attach them to the front and back of the third layer. Measure the spaces on the sides and cut two pieces to fit and attach them.

Step 8: Saw and Assemble Fifth Layer

The firth layer is the start of the gables. A gable is the front and back of the cabin that sits between the sides of the roof. It is the start of the single bevel pieces. That is, one side of each piece is cut at a 45 degree angle.

For the fifth layer you will need to cut, four single bevel pieces 2-1/4" long. Start by measuring the piece and cutting the bevel. For next piece, measure from the bevel and saw a straight cut. Thus technique will allow efficient use of materials and cuts. Sand cut edges and glue to the fourth layer as shown in the photo. It is now apparent that are two upstairs windows.

Step 9: Saw and Assemble Sixth Layer

Cut four single beveled 1-1/2" pieces. Sand cut edges and glue to the fifth layer as shown in the photo.

Step 10: Saw and Assemble Seventh and Eighth Layers

The seventh and eighth layers use double beveled pieces. The eighth layer uses two double beveled pieces 3" long, while the eight layer uses two doubled beveled pieces 1-1/2" long.

Sand cut edges and glue to pieces into place. You are now done with the glue bottle.

Step 11: Set Roof in Place

The roof is just set on top. This allows easy access to the inside. The houses can be decorated with paint or felt pens and with a little imagination you have make furniture. One of my students noticed that the plastic spacer from the center of a delivery box pizza makes an excellent table. Several use them to store their small toy cars. If a garage is your intention from the start, built the house with the three lower front pieces missing. Variations are endless.

Step 12: Remote KinderShop

In an ideal world you would always live close to those you love and what to share experiences. Unfortunately life gets in the way but you can remotely share this project.

I designed this project so all the cut pieces, along with a small bottle of glue and a small tape measure, would fit into a small priority mail flat rate box. So you can cut the pieces for two of these, mail off one, and two of you can assemble them together via Skype. Not as good as being there but it is something.

Step 13: Institutional KinderShop

I volunteer one day a week, teaching woodworking to four year olds, at the at the Valley Child Care and Learning Center in Chandler Arizona. The 20 student in the class each built a cabin. Here is a photo of some of them. I pre-cut all the pieces and they assembled them in class. It was a great exercise is part differentiation, placement details, and following directions. The KinderShop philosophy can successfully be applied to an academic setting.

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016