Projects for Grandchildren – and Other Things in the Shop

Projects for Grandchildren – and Other Things in the Shop

In the last issue of the eZine, Rob wrote about searching for projects for a newly expected grandchild. We heard from several readers who have built things for their grandchildren: perhaps they will inspire you, whether or not your family has a baby on the way in the new year. – Editor

We began with the sleeping arrangements. – Editor


“I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I have a great plan for a cradle that I make for all my friends who are expecting. As you can see, it breaks down for easy storage, which is a massive plus, I believe. This one has a family crest laser-engraved on the headboard and is made from mesquite with some turquoise inlay. I actually came upon this plan back in the early ’90s, after I made my own son’s cradle, and I wish I had had this plan for his! As you probably know, a cradle will really take up space and begs for some kind of second use. Ours holds 20-year-old stuffed animals that are waiting for that grandchild.” – E.J. Eiteljorge

“We made our grandson’s crib of cherry with maple accents using the hardware kit from Rockler. It came out great. Then we made an armoire, chest of drawers with a changing table top that is removable when it is time to replace it with a solid top, and a lamp stand. Some of these have already been passed down to his new sister. Who knows what we will build for her.” – David Lomas


“I made a cradle for my first grandson, and it’s been passed down to all four grandchildren. It will be in use again in June, when our fifth grandchild is expected. The Lamborghini beds were made for two of my grandsons, while the bunkbeds were made for the other two. Congratulations on your first grandchild! Since it’s a girl, it could be a ‘princess bed’ instead of cars!” – Carol Johnston


And, a project for, er, that other thing that babies do besides sleep and eat… – Editor

“Rob, like a lot of others, I have been down that road. One project that I threw together rather quickly for our first child was a change table. This has proven probably the most useful project. We have seen it in steady use for our two children, then four grandchildren. In between times it has done the rounds of almost every newborn household that we know. It is just a simple stand with two doors that open by touch latches, allowing one to access the contents with a knee tap when your hands are full. Build this, and you will be the most popular guy. The blocks can come later, but this is essential.” – John Rolph

And then there the fun treats and toys for the kids to play with. (That is who’s playing with them, right?) – Editor


“You are a lucky man. I started back with my daughter and continue to make things for my nephews, nieces and grandson. Girls love doll furniture. Be sure to make things like a little table and chairs that are strong enough to support a tea party that might include someone heavier than a doll. When I was charged with coming up with a project for the Kids Workshop at the Northeast Woodworkers show in Saratoga, New York, what I came up with was a puzzle chair that consisted of six pieces. Once we had the design down, we needed to be able to make a fair number of them quickly. In order to do that, we made patterns and had volunteers rough cut the pieces. The rough cut pieces were stuck to the patterns with hot glue. Each of the patterns for the larger pieces had small handles made of dowels so that, along with a volunteer, the kids could guide the material around the pattern bit mounted in a router table. The puzzle chair is actually a rocker and can be made to sizes to accommodate a small doll or larger for a toddler. Since all the prices come apart easily, but not too easy, almost all of the ones I have made are still being passed around.” – Joe DeJulio


“In response to your question about kids’ projects, attached are some of my favorites. My girls have not been into dolls, so the doll cradles were not used much – clearly the most used was the rocking horses.” – Mike Collinsworth


“This has been my favorite. I made these eight years ago so the kids could watch grandma make their favorite cookies. They still use them today to reach the cookie jar of (you guessed it) grandma’s famous and delicious cookies.” – Calvin Wisdom

“Rob, I can relate to what you are experiencing as you wait for your first grandchild. I now have six grandchildren and some of them are now in college, so not so young anymore. What I did as each grandchild came along was to design and build for each of them a savings bank of some kind. All of them were animal themed: one was an elephant with a long trunk, another was a dinosaur, and yet another was a actually a piggy bank. The pig was about 8″ tall and 4″ thick at the middle. I used thick leather obtained from a shoe repair shop for ears and tail. The dinosaur was about 10″ tall, and the coins went in through the mouth of the 20″ long creature. I made the coin slots in all the banks to fit a half dollar coin. I wanted to cover my options there. The elephant was probably the most difficult as it was a challenge to keep the long trunk from breaking off. I wound up laminating it for strength. I used plastic eyes and a lot of time on some of them. I hope you enjoy doing for your grandkids as I have. Just wait until you get boys, then you can build all those work trucks and equipment; I have four boy grandkids and built several of them.” – Bob Hoyle

A couple of readers shared stories of making things for the grandkids, with the grandkids. – Editor


“I have had many, many hours of pleasure making toys for grandchildren. However, the greatest pleasure I have had is working with my 11-year-old grandson in the shop this summer making toys for him and his four-year-old brother. We spent a week making two biplanes, a racing car and a toy box. I had him do most of the work, including designing, and really only did the cuts on the table saw and the jointer. He learnt how to band saw, scroll saw, run my bench sander, orbital sander, thickness planer and the essentials of gluing and clamping. He had a ball and is asking when we can do it again.” – Ron Orr


“I have built all of my grandchildren’s bedroom furniture, toy chests, pull toys, etc. However, my favorite is the following. My granddaughter is now 6-1/2 and grandson 2-1/2. I pre-cut and drill projects and let them do the cordless screw driver to assemble them. For example, my granddaughter and I assembled two red cedar bluebird houses along with the mounting posts – one for her yard and one for mine. She had bluebirds in hers before mine. She loves working with me on these projects, and so do I. My goal is to have her and my grandson share my love of the craft. I have loved my life, but the funnest part has always been being a father. Being a grandfather is as good and maybe better.” – Randall W. Engle

Then there were a couple of other comments relating to Rob’s question about your favorite grandchild project. – Editor

“Favorite grandchild project: finding a girl for my 40-year-old son.” – Rich Flynn

“I know we’ve never met, but I’ve been reading your posts for so long you feel like a woodworking buddy. Congratulations on your future granddaughter, and I’m looking forward to the projects you will be building. With three daughters, myself chances are I may need some of those project ideas in the future. Wishing you the best.” – Joe Cumbo

Here’s My Shop Experience

We also heard some feedback on some of the questions and answers in the Q&A section of last issue’s eZine: opinions on preseparators and the Sketchup drafting program. – Editor

“There is no need to buy a preseparator. I made one from a large round plastic garbage can, a 3/4-inch round plywood for a lid and a few aluminum elbows. Cut a hole in the center of the plywood lid and another near the circumference. Place the duct from your pickup in the outer hole with an elbow under the lid, pointing along the outside of the bin. The center hole is for the duct coming from your vacuum which you just point straight down. If you use some flexible ducting, you can easily lift the lid and pull out the bin to empty it.” – Ted Brydges

“I read your recommendation for using Sketchup. I have tried to use it several times and have been very frustrated. I have been using the old-fashioned drafting techniques I learned in high school and college 50 years ago. I have not found a good tutorial for using it for woodworking. Evidently Google thinks everyone is designing large buildings and landscaping.” – Ed Frankenfeld

And another reader told us about what happened when he tried to match the stain on an old piece of pine — just like a question that appeared back in eZine Issue 289. – Editor

“I had the same issue with a door and trim on an older home. I went to the local home supply store to see if I could find a match, but the dilemma was how much oxidation had taken place and would I find a stain to match it. I took a piece of the wood to my local paint store, and they scanned it and were able to machine mix an exact duplicate. It saved me time and money buying stain and trying to match something myself.” – Mike Holan

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