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Thread: Highschool Woodworking and its influence

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Highschool Woodworking and its influence

    Hi All

    Time and time again I get to thinking just how much of a role my high school played in my love of woodworking. So I thought as a little tribute to those who influenced me and took the time to get me enthusiastic about woodworking I would post a thread (which I would ask that you all to) that covers the projects you performed and what you gained from it all. Just maybe any "shop teachers" out there that happen to come across this thread might feel that even though it takes years to happen their work will be very much appreciated in later life.

    So to give ya all a insight to my education seeing as though I hail from a different continent, let me start by explaining:

    High School starts at what is essentially grade 8 in South Africa. Which means we have 5 years of high school not 4 as in Canada.

    We called shop Industrial Arts and it comprised of us being taught three subjects through the course of the year.

    Technical Drawing ( before the time of cad)
    Metal Work

    Now after I think it was Grade 8 or nine you choose to follow either metal or woodworking all the way thru to grade 12.

    I choose woodworking and here is a list of the projects we completed.

    Strangely enough all the projects were made with the same hard wood called KIAAT. Pretty close to Mahogany.

    1) Money box. - Very simple 4 pieces of wood butt jointed together and the sides covered with Formica and an acrylic plastic cover over the hole in the top drilled with a forstner bit.

    2) Serving tray - Four sides of a tray cut out to a pattern using a fret saw or coping saw and then all four corners dovetailed together. Base was sheet of around 3/16 plywood to match the side rails.

    3) Segmented Lamp - This consisted of 4 short lengths of wood all glued together to form the center column and another few pieces of thick stock glued together to form a base. We had to learn the “spinny thing” and turn the column and the base and put a tennon on the column and a hole in the base to match the tennon. Then drill the hole through the center from each end and put the wire and fitting on the end as well as switch and plug.

    4) Small living room side table for holding say a drink. Here we got full boards and had to joint them and join them together and cut out a pattern and then on the underside cut mount a framework that held the legs together. This framework consisted of two pieces of wood crossed over each other with a joint achieved by cutting halfway through each piece. At the end of these cross pieces we had tennons cut to go into the tops of the legs which were cut from a pattern.

    5) This was the real test year and we had to produce what was called a telephone table that incorporated much of what we had learnt all through the years. It consisted of a table top with a rebate around the edges. A draw with blind dovetails in the face and a frame that was put together with flat stock about 2.5 inches by say wide using a combination of box joints and tennon joints both blind and through tennons. Then there had to be a seat which we had to upholster to the best of our abilities.

    Unfortunately youth being what it is I only have two projects I retained. I gave two ( telephone table and serving tray) to a family members who disposed of them when they got in the way and somehow managed to hold onto the small serving table.

    Well recently during the move of my shop from the basement to my new shop, my son dropped the serving table off the top of the workbench. It was on the workbench for repairs but landed in further pieces on the concrete floor. (the wood was now brittle and the legs thin.) We were almost going to throw it out but being the sentimental fool I am and the don’t throw anything away kinda squirrel I am I kept the pieces and have recently rehabilitated the serving table without having to use anything but glue. (I choose to use polyurethane glue to fill the gaps in the tennons that snapped splintering the joints.

    So here is a picture I took to prove at least one of the projects and the repair took place.

    Maybe you would like to add your own high school shop projects to the list.

    Oh and a big thanks to all the guys out there that teach shop. Without your wonderful influence I would not have this great hobby and all you great woodworking friends.

    Oh and one more thing, I know in our society we have come ways away from corporal punishment but I happen to come from a generation that was canned when we did stupid things. One of which was not returning a tool to the correct place after we have finished using it. Another was cleaning up after I made a mess. So if you see pictures in future of my shop, please understand I don’t want my teachers coming and canning me again.

    And a last thing, I a still sanding this table intent on putting a new coat on it so dont judge the finish please.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    well rob i noticed that little table setting there and almost asked about it but figured i should keep quiet.. so now that i know its origins i can see why it caught my eye.. it was a once shining star and was now in need of some attention to reclaim its gleam... the legs are what attracted me to it..!! so thanks for sharun your school days.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    I never had shop in high school, but my Dad was a machinist and a generally inventive guy. The shop was where the action was in our house. I spent a lot of time down there, mostly in grade school and when i was home during the college years. During high school, i got busy with other things. I did take some design/build classes in college and built some nice furniture then - also several architectural models and building detail mock-ups. There were some management issues with the shop when i was there, so it happened to be closed much of my stint at college.

    But all roads lead back home, as they say. I'd have to say that the shop in my home is where the action is, if judging by where my kids hang out.

    I'm glad you saved the serving table, despite the dark cloud hanging over it. Someone down the road will really appreciate it.

    I mentioned that my Dad was a machinist. There are numerous tools, machines, and gizmos around that he's made or radically modified over the years. I always like using the tools he's made for me. When he was in high school, he had wood shop class and built some wooden furniture. None of that survived, and i think that's unfortunate. It would be great to have something he made when he was a kid, even if it needed or had received major repairs.

    With my background, i tend to approach woodworking with a cross of machinist's approach and architect's eye. It's a bit unique, but lacks the typical woodworker's tutelage. I tend to spend a lot of time figuring out how to execute the designs i sketch out. It's about 10% design, 40% experimentation, and 50% execution for me - and a whole lot of fun.

    Paul Hubbman

  4. #4
    Although I am not the fine teacher who was responsible for your not enjoying a boring life and HoDrum leasure time, I would like to thank you, as a previous and retired Industrial Arts Teacher who devoted the productive years to trying to impart a technical knowledge and love of the creative side of life to young men and women, having devoted 30+ years to the cause (not including the educational years I endured to be able to be underpaid and unappreciated). I (speaking for the rest of the teachers out there) thank you for realizing the effort and how it played a part in your life. Thank you for acknowledging that you were "taught" and not simply learned by osmosis or on your own.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Central (upstate) NY
    Bill - your reply inspired me to determine that my old shop teacher is still at my alma mater, find his email addy and send him a thank you email with a link to this thread.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Although I was exposed to woodworking and tools from about the age of 6, my high school woodshop teacher made a huge impact on my woodworking interests and abilities. Not so much in the things he taught me directly, but by guiding me through the operations I didn't know and allowing me to prove my responsibility in using the tools on my own. (This was at a time in my teen aged life when I was having responsibility issues.)

    At the school I attended, the typical first semester of woodshop was all about hand tools. The year I signed up though, they offered a carpentry class, and I took that instead. Although I didn't really learn a lot about carpentry, I learned to use the major power tools in the first semester. By the next semester, when I took the "Advanced" woodworking class, I was given free run of the shop while most of the rest of the class was still learning the basics of the stationary machines. I made an entry gate for the courtyard at my parent's house and an end table while the other kids were making step stools and tool boxes. (The gate lasted for 20 years or so, until my folks sold the house, and the table was at my grandfather's house until he died...I think my dad ended up with it.) I made a variety of other stuff, from speaker cabinets to nunchucks, most of which is still around somewhere in my family.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  7. #7
    I flunked out of high school woodshop. Just quit going, actually. A week of 'how to properly use a hammer' wasn't something I needed.

    My school had a 'building trades' class where they built a house and sold it. I do regret not taking that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    What? Your high school had a woodshop

    I went to high school in Pakistan. There is no conecpt of a woodshop or metalshop etc in any educational facility in Pakistan. In fact, people in pakistan don't even consider woodworking a hobby. When I tell my Pakistani friends that I like woodworking, their response is "Why would you pick up a hobby like that?". Woodworkers in Pakistan don't even have a high school diploma and they learn it to make a living. It is usually passed on from one generation to the next or by becoming an apprentice.

    Just a few years ago, I started taking woodworking classes at a local college in Southern California. I give great credit to all the instructors who opened up a whole new world to me. I don't think I would be exposed to woodworking if it was not for the wonderful woodworking program. In a school or college woodshop, you don't just learn from the instructors but also from your fellow students.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Vernon, WI
    Rob, I'm glad that you posted this. I also feel that my high school shop teacher deserves a nice thank you. I like your projects Rob and it is great that you still have them! During high school, especially the earlier years of it, I was a bit of a trouble maker, but when it came time to woodworking classes I tried to settle down and soak in everything I could. When you look back it seems as though maybe you didn't quite appreciate everything 100%. Sometimes I wish I could go back and take just that one extra step of effort to pay closer attention and use all that awesome machinery! My high school shop had 3 powermatic lathes, nice bandsaw, table saw, jointer, planer, HUGE drum sander, and all your other little odds n ends. It wasn't until the last couple of years that I've realized how expensive all of that stuff must be, and when you look back at some of the kids who didn't take the class or TOOLS too seriously, it's a shame that they've been through that much abuse . I remember one time not paying close attention on the bandsaw (one of the safer machines in shop ) and I got the blade head-on into the tip of my finger, right underneath my fingernail Still have the scar to prove it and the skin there never grows attached to the nail properly anymore ...first eye opener about shop safety for me

    During hs shop I made an oak nightstand (still have it in storage) and a bunk bed with a bed on top and futon-like couch on the bottom. Up until about 2 years ago I still slept on the thing! Finally disassembled it and put it away for storage in our shed

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Constable View Post
    ...My school had a 'building trades' class where they built a house and sold it. I do regret not taking that...
    Kirk my hs also had this class and I took it Junior year. Every other year this class would build a brand new house and sell it, like you say, but we got pretty lucky the year I was in it. We got to competely remodel a house that was over 100 years old. It use to be the town's library back in the early 1900's. We also built a large 2.5 car garage in the backyard with attic space. It sure was a great time and I will never forget those years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Westley Rosenbaum View Post
    ...During high school, especially the earlier years of it, I was a bit of a trouble maker...
    Aha! I knew it! I had you pegged as a troublemaker from the start! I couldn't tell from your actions, but your girlfriend was the clue. The pretty girls always go for the bad boys.

    Woodshop was the beginning of my attitude turnaround in high school. Prior to that class, I slacked off on schoolwork and ditched a lot of classes. I don't know if it was the class or just my own growing up, but I went from a 0.8 grade average (my sophomore year, right before I dropped out for the rest of the year) to a 3.8 average (my senior year, after attending high school on the 5-year plan).
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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