Through designing, making, and finishing various wood projects, students learn foundational skills for understanding and safely using all of the common shop tools and materials. They also gain vocabulary and experience which will help them safely enjoy woodworking and other projects involving power and hand tools into the future. Students have found this elective not only to help them gain useful and enjoyable skills, but also as a fun way to spend three afternoons a week after their more academically-oriented classes.
Familiarity with the Shop: Cutting Boards
In the process of making cutting boards, students learn to use almost all of the tools in the shop safely. They also learn about project design, wood selection, gluing, and finishing. Tools covered: chop saw (miter saw), jointer, planer, table saw, band saw, router table, drill press, jig saw, oscillating spindle sander, and orbital sander.
Following Plans: Birdhouses
Part of the enjoyment of woodworking comes from successfully completing a project from plans. In the process of building birdhouses, students learn to read plans and then measure, mark, cut, drill, and attach wood together to complete the project.
Giving to Others: Projects for the School and Gifts
Other joys of woodworking are making things for others and completing projects designed to fulfill a specific purpose. As experience with the tools increases, students are able to deepen and broaden their skills, such as designing and building jigs, calculating complex angles, joining with biscuits and other materials, using different finishes, and learning how to use versatile tools in many different ways, such as the table saw and router table. In the past, students have made podiums and pool cues for the school, and various gifts for friends and family: ornaments, boxes, iPhone speakers, and coasters.
Creativity and Depth: Student Design
Once safety and basic skills and knowledge have been integrated by the students, they are encouraged to find or design their own projects. Safety, attention to detail, accuracy, quality, following instructions, and excellent finish are emphasized as the students work on their projects. Examples of past projects students have completed: chess set, toy train, cube-within-a-cube, geodesic sphere, the “world’s most uncomfortable” office chair, band saw box, sword, hockey stick, desk, baseball bat, water-thrower, mailbox, elegant bird feeder, intricate cross, relief carving, and others.