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Alabama 4-H What Wood U Build participant with ruler

Woodworking is a great tradition. Wood is perfect for building everything from houses to hat racks. You paint it or show off its natural grain and characteristics.

What Wood U Build? helps you develop your skill in woodworking. It requires that you make decisions about what you like and dislike. You can design your own project, or you can search for a plan that you would like to follow.

What You Will Learn

  • The basics of good design.
  • How to recognize and practice good and safe work techniques.
  • Your personal design preferences, making your own decisions.
  • Skills that will be useful throughout your life.

Levels of Competition

For details on eligibility, see the General Event Policy.

Junior Level I: 9 to 11 years old on December 31 of the current calendar year (compete only at local and regional levels).

Intermediate: 12 to 13 years old on December 31 of the current calendar year (compete only at local and regional levels).

Senior Level I: 14 to 15 years old on December 31 of the current calendar year.

Senior Level II: 16 to 18 years old on December 31 of the current calendar year.

Refer to the Alabama 4-H Competitive Events webpage to review the General Contest Policy and the Age & Eligibility Chart.

Where Do I Start?

There are two ways of doing this: you may either create an original design, or you may work from a pattern that you have found.

If you want to create an original item, you might look at pictures to get some ideas about what they look like or how they are put together.

If you want to work from a pattern, visit a hardware or hobby store, search the internet, or go to your school or community library.

It is extremely important that you practice good safety when using tools. Use tools under the close supervision of a responsible adult.

  • Think Before You Cut. The most powerful tool in your shop is your brain–use it. Thinking through your cuts and movements before acting can help save both fingers and scrap wood.
  • Keep a Clean Shop. A cluttered shop is an accident waiting to happen. Keeping your shop clean will help protect you (and your tools) from tripping hazards.
  • Avoid Distractions. Pay attention to your actions. Looking up to watch TV or a visitor can result in your hand contacting the blade. Always wait until you have completed your cut before you take your eyes off the blade.
  • Don’t Rush. Keep in mind that this is just a hobby. Take a break when you feel rushed or frustrated with a project. Mistakes happen when we rush to complete a job.
  • Protect Yourself. Wearing proper shop protection is an important part of safe tool operation. Goggles, ear protection, and lung protection should be used when operating tools. Use push sticks when working close to the blade, and make sure the tool’s safety features are in place.
  • Let the Tool Stop. Not giving the power tool time to wind down after a cut is an often overlooked safety mistake. Even without power, the spinning blade can still do a lot of damage.
  • Fumes and Dust. Solvent fumes and airborne dust can present health and explosion hazards. Be sure you have a supply of fresh air, and use only explosion-proof vent fans.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing. Loose clothing or hair can get caught in power tools and cause severe injury.

Identification of Entry

Name, county, and level of participation should be displayed with each entry. 4-H project exhibit cards are available, but not required.

Junior and Intermediate Project: Building Brick Coat Rack

Building Brick Coat Rack

Materials Needed

  • 1′′x2′′x31′′ Pine or whitewood board
  • 1 1⁄2′′x22′′ Pine lattice molding
  • 36 1⁄2′′ Dowel flathead plugs
  • 5 Single robe hooks
  • 2 D-mirror rings
  • Spray or acrylic paint (Color choice is up to you.)
  • Wood glue
  • 1 1⁄2′′ painter’s tape

Tools Needed

  • Carpenter’s square and pencil
  • Screwdriver (probably Phillip’s head)
  • Saw

How to Make the Building Brick Coat Rack

1. Sand the 1′′x2′′x31′′ pine board until it is smooth.

2. Using a square and pencil, mark off the 1′′x2′′x31′′ pine board into the following lengths: 3 1⁄2′′, 2′′, 3 1⁄2′′, 2′′, 3 1⁄2′, 2′′, 3 1⁄2′′, 2′′, 3 1⁄2′′, 2′′, 3 1⁄2′′.

3. Place painter’s tape on one side of the board you just measured covering the wood in the 3 1⁄2′′ areas. (This will allow you to glue pieces of wood onto these areas later in the project.)

4. Cut the 1 1⁄2′′ pine lattice molding piece into six 3 1⁄2′′ pieces, and then sand the pieces to make them smooth.

5. Space and glue six 1⁄2′′ dowel flathead plugs onto each of the 3 1⁄2′′ lattice molding pieces so they resemble building bricks, such as Legos. Let the glue dry for 24 hours.

6. After allowing the glue to dry, carefully sand the tops of the wood 1⁄2′′ plugs so they are smooth.

7. Select the paint colors you want to use on the project. Color choice is up to you.

8. Paint the 1′′x2′′x31′′ board one color. (Make sure the board is taped as described in step 3).

9. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours, and then lightly sand the board before applying a second coat of paint.

10. Place the 3 1⁄2′′ building bricks you constructed in steps 4–7 on newspaper or drop cloth, and paint the top and four sides. Do not paint the bottom side of the pieces. Allow the pieces to dry, and then lightly sand before giving them a second coat of paint.

11. Remove the tape from the 1′′x2′′x31′′ board and carefully position the wooden building bricks on the board over the unpainted areas to check for fit. If bare wood is still visible, touch up these edges so you do not see any of the bare wood sticking out from around the brick pieces.

12. Once the touch-up glue is dry, carefully apply glue to the backs of the bricks, and place them on the 1′′x2′′x31′′ board. Let the glue dry for 24 hours.

13. After the glue is dry, carefully position a robe hook in the center of each of the 2′′ spaces between the bricks. Carefully mark the screw holes and drill starter holes. Using the screwdriver, tighten the screws so the hooks are firmly attached.

14. On the backside of the board, measure 5′′ from either end. Attach the D-mirror rings. Your project is now complete and ready to hang.

Senior Level I & II Project : Pallet Furniture Free Style

This year, we want everyone to use their creativity and carpentry skills as they participate in our 4-H free-style wood pallet furniture project. The goal of this project is to construct an original piece of furniture (your choice) using recycled/repurposed lumber salvaged from wood pallets.

The basics for this project are simple:

1. This is a free-style project in which participants construct a piece of furniture (their choice) using recycled pallet lumber as their wood material.

2. Compete by yourself or on a two-person team. Youth on teams must be in the same 4-H age level (e.g., Senior Level II).

3. You may create an original design or work from a pattern you have found.

4. You may not use a kit.

5. Put your name and county on a 3′′x5′′ piece of paper attached to your project. 6. Provide a copy of the plan for your furniture piece.

7. Your free-style furniture project must meet the following criteria:

  • Lumber used in this project must be from recycled pallets.
  • The project must meet the requirement of being used as a piece of furniture, which includes but is not limited to the following: table, chair, bench, headboard, stool, bookcase, cart, television stand, desk, stand, dresser, or other piece of furniture.
  • The size and dimensions of the finished project are at the participant’s discretion. (Remember that you will need to transport and display it at the competition site.)

8. The finished project may be left natural or stained, painted, or a combination of both.

9. Make sure you address any safety issues your piece may present. Example: Its height might require it to be fastened to a wall.

10. Seniors must identify any safety hazards.

Disqualification in What Wood U Build:

  • Using a kit.
  • Creating a design on the woodworking project that features culturally or racially insensitive images violating 4-H’s values of respect, fairness, and caring. These will not be permitted.
  • Senior Level 4-H member not submitting a community service report.

Career Connections

Skills developed through this project have direct connections to many exciting and rewarding careers as well as lifelong hobbies. These include carpentry and cabinet making, construction, design, teaching, industrial design, interior design, theater set design, fine arts and crafts, and hardware sales. There are also opportunities to learn how to build and sell your own
new products.

Community Service

Telling a great story, showcasing projects at a community library, speaking at a local nursing home, or organizing a community cooking or building blocks workshop are great opportunities to serve others. Serving others helps you build academic skills, learn civic responsibility, and develop leadership. It may also give you a good opportunity to meet new people, publicize 4-H, and practice your communication skills. Alabama 4-H is now requiring all senior level 4-H members to add a community service component to all 4-H Competitive Events. Each senior level 4-H member will have to complete the 4-H Community Service Report as part of his or her project. 4-H members will be disqualified if the community service report is not included.

You must decide what service you can provide, and you must not have a parent or 4-H leader make this decision for you. Groups of young people are encouraged to work together to discover how they can serve their community.


Download a PDF of What Wood U Build Score Sheet, 4HYD-2241.

Download a PDF of Community Service Report, 4HYD-2241.

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations, contact Extension Communications and Marketing at 334-844-5696 or extcomm@aces.edu.


Approved for use by Doyle Keasal, Extension 4-H Program Specialist, Auburn University.

Revised May 2022, What Wood U Build?, 4HYD-2241

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