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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).


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: Picture Frame

Materials Needed

  • 1/2ʺ x 3/4ʺ stock—size will depend on size of picture
  • Heavy cardboard—size will depend on size of picture
  • Glue
  • 1-inch brads

Tools Needed

  • Square and pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain and varnish

How to Make the Picture Frame

  1. Cut the cardboard 11/2 inches longer and 1/2 inches wider than the picture to be framed.
  2. Cut two pieces of stock the same length as the cardboard. Cut two more pieces the width of the picture.
  3. Glue and nail the frame together.
  4. Sand and finish.
  5. Glue the picture to the cardboard, leaving a 3/4-inch margin all around.
  6. Glue the frame to the cardboard.

NOTE: A piece of string may be glued or fastened on small tacks in back of picture to hang on wall. (Tacks should be put into frame.)

What Wood U Built? Picture frame diagram

Senior Level I & II Project : Headboard

The basics are simple:

  1. Compete by yourself or on a two-person team. Youth on teams must be the same 4-H age level (e.g., Senior Level II).
  2. You must create an original design or work from a pattern you have found.
  3. You must do all the construction yourself.
  4. You can’t use a kit.
  5. Your name and county need to be on a small piece of tape attached to your project.
  6. Provide a copy of the plan for your headboard.
  7. Your headboard must meet the following criteria:
    • Any type of wood may be used in this project, including repurposed or recycled materials.
    • Make the size of your headboard suitable for your own needs, but use the following as the standard width measurements;
      • Twin headboard is 41ʺ (Must be between 41ʺand 45ʺ)
      • Full headboard is 56ʺ (Must be between 56ʺ and 60ʺ)
      • Queen headboard is 62ʺ (Must be between 62ʺ and 66ʺ)
      • King headboard is 80ʺ (Must be between 80ʺ and 84ʺ)
    • Explain how your bed frame will be attached to the headboard and/or wall.
    • The maximum height of the headboard may not exceed the length of the bed. (Each participant needs to know the length of the bed with which this headboard is going to be used.)
    • The minimum height of the headboard must be at least 14ʺ above mattress and box springs for a twin and 29ʺ or more for a full, queen, or king. (Each participant will need to know the height of the mattress and box springs that will be used with this headboard so they can meet this requirement.)
    • The headboard may be stained, painted, or a combination of both.
  8. Make sure you address any safety issues that your headboard may present such as does its height require a way to fasten it to the wall.
  9. Let your creativity shine! Think of other features that you can give your headboard to make it special. Remember, you are constructing a piece of furniture that you can use for years to come.
  10. Seniors must identify any safety hazards.

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.

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.

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.


Revised October 2021, What Wood U Build?, 4HYD-2241

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


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