“Girls Garage is a place of transformation. As I learned about power tools, I built a house, practiced leadership skills, and learned how to fear less and build more.”— Ellah, 13 years old
There’s no better time to flex your muscles and cultivate a builder mindset by focusing on creativity and problem-solving!
Building provides a sense of agency and achievement while firing up your creative problem-solving. We’ve published a dozen design/build challenges—open-ended project prompts or engineering problems—to inspire builders of all ages. So, grab your toolbox—and any other decorations, supplies, or art materials you want to use—and let’s get building! There’s no “right” way to complete them, so make something exactly how you want it and with whatever materials you have on hand.
We would love to see what you build! Tell us about your projects and send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag Girls Garage on your social media post.
The Museum of Craft and Design partnered with our founder Emily to create two at-home activities that relate to our Girls Garage programs.
- Mechanical Thinking Collection
Using Richard Serra’s Verblist as inspiration, search your surroundings for tools to artfully arrange into a flat-lay composition.
- Plan, Section, Elevation
Grab any object and represent it with three drawings that show the top view, side view, and a cross section. This visual exercise will help you look at the world with an architect’s eye.
Paper Model-Making Challenges
Using scissors, tape, and paper, complete a series of prompts that stretch your visual and physical creativity! These three activities represent different aspects of the builder’s mindset: production, concept, and purpose.
Tool School Video Series
We’ve put together an ongoing online video series as a fun, informative, at-home mini-version of a Girls Garage class. In season one, Emily will tell you about wood, design, cutting, tools, hardware, and finishing as you build a wooden box together.
Tool School Season One: Wooden Box
- Episode 1: Lumber
Find out about the dimensions of lumber, how it comes out of the tree and gets processed, and factors for choosing the correct wood for your project.
- Episode 2:Drawings + Cut Lists
By making a plan, section, and elevation drawing and a cut list (like a recipe, but for building!), you’ll have all the visual information you need to make precise cuts and put your project together.
- Episode 3: Measure + Mark
Learn how to use a tape measure, a special builder’s mark called a “caret”, and a speed square (which is actually shaped like a triangle??!) to measure and mark your wood.
- Episode 4: Chop Saw
Watch Emily demonstrate the proper, safe technique for using a chop saw (for adults only!), and explain what “kerf” means.
- Episode 5: Coping Saw
Coping saws are traditionally used for “coping joints,” making curved profiles in crown molding so that corners fit together perfectly, but they are also a fantastic hand saw for small projects.
- Episode 6: Jigsaw
Grab a fresh pack of T-shank blades and charge your batteries! In this episode, Emily shows the parts and features of a jigsaw and how to use it to cut out irregular shapes.
- Episode 7: Sanding, Nails, and Screws
Find out the fascinating history of nail sizing (does a 16-penny nail cost 16 cents?!), along with how to choose screws, and how to sand with the right grit.
- Episode 8: Drill + Impact Driver
Use a drill and its “sister tool,” the impact driver, to make a pilot hole, and then install a screw. Find out why a drill is more likely to strip your screw head and how to insert and remove bits.
- Episode 9: Voila! And A Pop Quiz!
A few hinges, a hasp and lock, and ta-da!! Our box project is done! Take a 6-question pop quiz to test your knowledge of what we’ve learned together in our first season of Tool School.
The Girls Garage Book
Girls Garage: How To Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build The World You Want To See invites all girls to speak up, stand out, and join a movement of fearless builder girls everywhere! Across 300+ pages, you’ll find a complete tool and hardware guide (saws, sandpaper, screws, and speed squares!), 11 building projects (a bookshelf, a toolbox, a doghouse), 21 essential skills (how to carry lumber and jumpstart a car), and 15 profiles of awesome builder women.
Learn more about the book, read an interview with the author, take a tour inside, and order your copy at girlsgarage.org/book!
“If this place has taught me anything, it’s to be resilient and to be fearless. So I look forward to the next project. I look forward to the next commitment. I look forward to the next build. I look forward to being fearless.”— Nautica, 15 years old
“When I'm here, I do all the things people tell me I can't.”— Solyana, 15 years old