Introduce kids to woodworking by challenging them to create these whimsical steampunk wooden robots – from wood, screws and metal scraps!
There is a certain appeal to a pile of loose hardware, wouldn’t you say? All those nuts, bolts and little metal scraps seem so inspiring, as if saying, “You can create anything!”
That’s why we always have a box of loose hardware, metal scraps and little gears in our children’s art closet. In the past, they’ve made magnetic metal robots with them.
This time, we went for something more permanent – we combined metal scraps with wooden blocks and created a set of steampunk robots. They will keep company with our previous articulated robots and the now-ancient wooden robot buddy.
Why Make Steampunk Wooden Robots?
Woodworking is a very satisfying hobby, both for boys and girls. If they know the basics of woodworking, they can make all kinds of practical and fun projects – from a wooden boat to a play tent, from a wooden frame to a gumball machine.
But before proceeding to these wonderful projects, one needs to start somewhere – with learning how to hammer, drill, and screw. That’s where this project comes in handy – it focuses on all these skills, while also fostering general creativity and engineering skill in children.
Have a child who loves robots and tinkering, but isn’t quite ready for using a drill? No problem! These robots can also be made with only a hammer and a hot glue gun.
Materials for Making Steampunk Robots
There are two kinds of materials that this project requires for sure.
First of all, you will need a selection of wooden blocks. Cheap building block sets are a good place to start. Knock-off sets of Jenga blocks are an inexpensive source for arms and legs. If you come across any other little wooden parts, they will be handy as well. You can even cut your own from lumber.
…and an assortment of screws, nuts, gears, and other metal scraps…
That’s it for materials.
For tools, it depends on the level of woodworking skills you wish to practice and what technique you choose for assembling the robots.
How to Make Steampunk Wooden Robots
Assembling Robots with a Drill
Ideally, this project would involve drilling. Using an electric hand drill is a more advanced skill than most children can manage, but if you have a drill press, that would be ideal! Our son has been using a drill press since he was four. Of course, he is always closely supervised.
Another variant is for adults to help with drilling, while entrusting children with putting screws in. If you are interested in exploring that skill further, here are a few different kinds of manual screw drivers for children.
Using screws for these wooden robots will give their limbs articulation, so they can move their arms and legs. Take this big guy, for instance. His body is assembled with screws, and he can move quite well!
Assembling Robots with Nails
No interest in drilling? No problem! You can still make these wooden robots, while using a hammer and nails.
Ideally, it’s better to pre-drill holes for nails as well, or the wood may split, but if you use smalls nails, you will be able to attach all those gears and little hooks for decorations.
Hot Glue Gun Works Too!
Using a hot glue gun is also a valid option. On the picture below, for instance, the gear on the right is attached with a nail, but two other gears are being held with hot glue.
The whole bodies can be assembled with hot glue! The robots will not have articulation, but they will still be fun to design and put together. This guy is getting his head attached to the body with hot glue.
A Few More Design Ideas
If you have a set of wheels, you can really make your creations go! Here is a steampunk robot dog.
You can even make removable wheels, like this guy has!
The wheel can be removed, and then the robot stands on his two feet. Only the holes for the screw+wheel assembly remain.
Don’t have a pile of assorted hardware at hand? Build articulated wooden robots together with kids, using wooden blocks and skewers!
Or a sturdy wooden robot that little kids can take anywhere.
You can also play a robot math game.
Print the Steampunk Robot Craft Card
If you’d like to have a card with short instructions for this robot craft, you can print one below.
- hot glue gun
- Loosely arrange the blocks/screws/gears in a robot shape.
- Make plans for attaching them together. There are three basic ways for putting the robot together - with a screws (pre-drilling is required), with nails (pre-drilling is desirable, but not required), and with hot glue gun (which will exclude articulation, but will still make for an interesting craft). A combination of these methods is possible.
- Execute your plan!
Thanks for reading!