Woodworking Kits – What Makes a Good One by Looking at the Bad Ones

Woodworking Kits that me and my kids made
A pair of boats I made with my kids from some Woodworking Kits I bought.

Unfortunately, not all kits are created equal.

After building a few kits myself, I can tell you that a bad kit can really dampen the experience.

To steer you clear of a bad experience, here’s a list of what to avoid when looking for a Woodworking Kit:

1. Small Pieces

Small and thin pieces are harder to handle than larger ones. Kids, in particular, don’t have the fine motor skills to be able to easily handle them.

If you can see small pieces in the pictures, then it’s a sign that that the kit will be a little harder than otherwise.

And anything that looks thinner than 6mm (1/4 inches) should be avoided.

2. Bad or No Instructions

If the steps in the project aren’t completely obvious (which they usually aren’t) good instructions with pictures are needed. Think IKEA or Lego.

I know men aren’t supposed to need instructions but they do help when you have no idea of what to do next.

The thing about not having the instructions is that you end up working it out for yourself when it’s too late!

And I don’t know about you but I really don’t like fixing mistakes… especially my own.

3. No Labelling

I remember putting together a ‘build it yourself’ jewelry box with my daughter.

Some of the pieces were only a little bit smaller than some others (which made it very hard to identify what went where), and some other parts just didn’t seem to fit anywhere.

The project sounded like a good idea at the start, but because of this ended up in the bin, unfinished.

There are two things to look for in a kit, to evade this problem.

  1. Labeling on each piece individually
  2. Having a piece of paper with scale drawings of all the parts on it included

Either way, knowing which piece is which stops stress and frustration.

4. No Pre-Drilled Holes

For nails and screws, pre-drilled holes help identify exactly where things should go, as well as stops the chance of the wood splitting and your project breaking.

They give a sense of certainty which is missed without them.

5. Waiting to Complete the Project


When a project uses PVA glue only, it means a 24-hour wait for the project to dry.

This may not be a problem for some, but in my experience, kids want to use what they have made straight away.

For a cheat, you can use some super glue like this stuff but it must stay off skin.


Waiting for paint to dry is a little different. Mostly because kids love doing it and after you can pack up and eat lunch the paint will be dry.

If you can’t wait for paint, grab yourself some POSCA pens. I’ve had good success with these in the past as they do work well with wood.

6. Everything Is Not Included

Going to the shed is fine if you have a shed.

Sometimes things aren’t included in these woodworking kits. Think nails, glue, paint, etc. If you don’t have any woodworking equipment then lookout for this.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the kit is bad, but you will need to supply your own things.

The Woodworking Kit Shopping List:

Speaking of what you need, here are a few extras that I recommend you have at the ready for your woodworking afternoon, and why they are important.

  • Superglue
    • Sticks straight away instead of 24-hours later (mentioned earlier)
  • Standard sticky tape (or masking tape)
    • Holds things together like string, and good for instant repairs
  • POSCA or other paint pens
    • Take out the wait time for brush-on paint, as well as creates much less mess
  • A cheap drill and a small set of bits
    • Helpful for attaching dowel and using screws and nails

7. After Everything, it Doesn’t Work!

Woodworking Kits - Boats

It’s a bit of a disappointment when the project you make doesn’t work as it should.

Case in point, I thought that we could race the boats my kids and I made from a woodworking kit I bought. Unfortunately, they kept blowing over when you try to push them with your breath (if they weren’t already toppled over by just being in the water.)

They were an OK kit but in the end, it didn’t work so the kids were a little disappointed. But as kids do they moved onto playing with something else.

In Summary

By the end of this list, you might have thought ‘these things aren’t as good as I thought…’

But woodworking is a great opportunity to learn and strengthen skills. They are great for days when you and the kids are stuck inside and do create memorable experiences!

I promise there are some good woodworking kits out there!

In fact I am in the process of reviewing some more woodworking kits that are available and will write a couple of articles identifying the good ones.

But until then here’s a couple of articles with ideas for woodworking projects without a kit:

Thanks for reading.