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 Post subject: Woodworking
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:29 pm
Posts: 1168
Location: Central New Hampshire
This post may fall into the category of what not to do.

A couple of years ago I attempted to teach the woodworking honor. I had prepared two different projects for the students to choose from. One of the projects was a small bedside table that I had designed and built when I was in 9th grade wood shop. The other was a box, and I had never built one just like the one I was proposing.

The box was a mistake on two levels. First, the box turned out to be a lot harder than I had anticipated. It required that all the cuts be perfectly square, and it was not very forgiving of mistakes. The table, OTOH, was a lot more forgiving.

Second, I was trying to teach two projects at the same time. If I teach this one again (and I'm sure I will), there will be only one design from which to choose, and if it's not this table, it will be something else I've already built.

Two projects = divided attention.

As it turned out, while I was helping one kid, another kid's mom was "helping" her son. She had missed some of the instruction, and it would be fair to say that it kinda showed. She was actually beating on the back of one of my saws with a mallet in an attempt to drive the saw through a board. I was gentle in my correction, in spite of the fact that inside my head I was freaking out. I don't think she saw the veins popping out of my neck.

That brings me to a third suggestion on this honor - when it's time to build the project, make sure you have good helpers. I think one helper for two students might not be a bad ratio.

Almost all (or maybe it was all, I can't remember now) the kids who attempted the table succeeded, but none of the kids who tried the box did. I felt really bad about that, but you live and learn.

The tables were not works by master craftsmen, but they turned out pretty well. They were pretty solid anyhow. I did have them paint the tables rather than varnish them though. Paint plus wood putty will conceal a lot more imperfections than varnish will.

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Jim Thomas
The sooner you get behind, the more time you have to catch up.


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