Design/build challenges are open-ended projects or engineering problems to solve. There’s no “right” way to build these projects, but rather they are a starting place to fire up your imagination. That means you can build your own project exactly how you want it and with whatever materials you have on hand! For example, you can use cardboard instead of wood for many of these.

These are great activities whether you are bored at home, really have the hankering to hammer some nails, or have a specific need (a shelf for your books? a game to play? art that needs a frame?). You can complete these challenges over and over, with new solutions each time. So grab your toolbox—and any other decorations, supplies, or art materials you want to use—and let’s get building!

We would love to see what you build! Send photos of your final creations to:


1. A Box to Hold Whatever You Want!

Use different wood shapes and sizes to assemble a box to hold all your doo-dads.
Watch Tool School Season One for step-by-step videos on building a box.



2. Bridge Challenge

Build a structure to span 36” and hold the weight of a gallon of milk (about eight pounds)!

trivet or coaster

3. Trivet or Coaster(s)

Glue together multiple strips on a flat surface to make a serving trivet.

pet food stand

4. Pet Food Stand

Make a small stand to hold Fido’s or Fluffy’s food or water dish. Paint their name on it!
Watch on YouTube >>


5. Bookshelf

Use a single piece or multiple pieces and attach to your wall with L-brackets.

picture frame or shadow box

6. Picture Frame or Shadow Box

Attach 4 pieces into a frame and display your art, photos, or collectibles.
Watch on YouTube >>

name or initials

7. Your Name or Initials

Cut lengths of strips and attach to create the letters in your name or initials.

tangram or wooden puzzle

8. Tangram or Wooden Puzzle

Slice up plywood into a puzzle or tangram game (template here).
Watch on YouTube >>

sculptural wall art

9. Sculptural Wall Art

Glue, nail, or screw elements together to form an abstract piece of art!

block set

10. Block Set

Practice your cutting skills! Cut wood into dozens of pieces to make your own blocks!


11. Robot

Use small blocky pieces to construct a robot body, head, and limbs.


12. Bookends

Join two pieces in a right angle, and add something decorative on top! Make two!
Watch on YouTube >>


Looking for more projects?

Our book is your can-do compendium of all things tools and building, including illustrated tool guides, how-to projects, essential builder skills, and profiles of awesome builder girls and women. Girls Garage: How To Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build The World You Want To See comes out June 2!