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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 9:45:02 PM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Another challenging project

Actual size

I'm always challenging the students to pick quality projects and to try something new. Pick something difficult when you are ready. Forget the path of least resistance! Work towards something of quality that is so cool that you can't wait to get into the wood shop each day. This small racer has created a huge wave of much needed inspiration in our class this year.

Here was my inspiration...

Maybe in the future I will add actual steering.
Posted: Friday, September 27, 2019 11:06:24 AM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
With strict instructions.... to wait!

I certainly have spilled the beans many times over the years while talking with parents, so I didn't want to violate Kairi's order to wait to post this. "My mom regularly keeps up with what I'm doing in school and I don't want her to see this yet," she says.

While making this special birthday gift for her mom...

You can see the pride and she liked this so much that she made another one for herself.

I unfortunately (later we changed that to fortunately) cut the board well over 2" short. You see... the piggy cutting board stretches across the entire 16" so students can choose to make one from the same cutting boards we normally produce.

Knowing this, Kairi decided to use a short piece in her board that the template would have easily gone around so it would have been cut away anyway. Silly me... I forgot and shortened the whole board to that length while trimming the irregular ends.

To make things right, I simply traced half the piggy, then slid it over to trace the other half. Still feeling a bit guilty, I also helped cut around the hardest parts so we could quickly see how well it would turn out. Kairi spent a ton of time sanding all those curvy edges to perfection and it came out so cool! This cute and more round piggy has become a new wood shop favorite. I know I like it and hope her mom feels the same way.

Good job Kairi and happy birthday to her mom!

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 9:57:48 AM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Another first timer...

8th grader Maggie, is a first time wood shop student and has done a remarkable job. Each project is of the highest caliber and when I accidentally flipped over the top of her slot drum, we had to cover some mistakes where the tablesaw leaves a couple of the earlier cuts.

Maggie shows off the slot drum.

After filling in those grooves, I thought she might like it better if we could somehow camouflage the patches, so I started showing her a few ideas. She decided to take a chance and go with this idea.

Can you find the errors now?

Not only did she choose two differing colors of wood that show off the corner joints... which she I might add... made all by herself (all the students cut their own finger joints), but she also chose this stunning laser cut leaf pattern to cover for my error. It works so well that the slots are even difficult to see in the photo.

Then when she found out that she would only get to make one drum stick because I was running out of donated rubber balls, she also brought in a bag of rubber balls and was able to have two drum sticks while still leaving us with more than a dozen extras.

Nicely done Maggie!
Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 11:31:51 AM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
The "Whistle-Blower"

Sorry... This is not about national politics. It's fall break right now. Let's get down to something real that we recently did in our shop. The band teacher came to me with this video and ask if I thought we could make a train whistle for the Polar Express program he is doing in December.

Photo of the second train whistle.

I had to admit, it's a good train whistle. Much better than the simple one I already had. But can we build this from a video? He neglected to mention at the time that he also bought the plans. Good thing because it would be hard to imagine how the inside is constructed being shielded from view by the bellows.

The plan gives every detain about the build. Now everyone knows that I love a challenge and this sounds like a lot of fun to me. With mostly Home Depot materials he brought to the shop, I was able to produce two.

Picture inside the first train whistle.

This is a photo from the first build. The pipes are intentionally left long so they can be tuned. The band teacher later tuned them to fit with their musical score. It sounds terrific.

The plan calls for the bellows fabric to act as the hinge. I figured that it wouldn't hold up in a elementary/middle school over the long haul. One of my first changes to the plan was to add hinges to the back so it would last a lot longer.

The next change I made was to take out two of the springs and to shorten (about 1/2") the remaining two springs. The plan calls for four springs, but clearly they were not necessary. In fact, it might have been harder for the younger children.

The plan also calls for the springs to be placed on nibs. Nibs are a much harder way to mount the springs, so on the second whistle, I simply drilled 5/8" holes 3/8" deep using a forstner bit, so the springs have a secure place to mount and they also wouldn't have to be shortened.

So the bellows get enough quick air, 10 - 3/8" holes on the bottom allow for plenty of air intake. The same naugahyde for the bellows is used as a flexible valve to let air pass in, but not back out. For better air movement, the outer edges of the holes have been slightly chamfered with the countersink bit, to give better air passage.

Lastly, I didn't feel right about gluing the naugahyde around the top and bottom pieces. What will someone do if there is ever a need to get back in to make repairs in the future? It doesn't need to be glued and I did have to go back in when I wanted to use screws to attach the press pad on the first whistle.

On the second build, I also didn't add the extra reinforcement on the back bellows trim which on the first whistle, created a sort of squeak as the naugahyde was squeezed tightly together as the bellows opened and closed.

Now the kids can't leave it alone so I'm going to have to get rid of this second one by giving it to the Sunnyslope school or maybe I should place it on one of the upper most shelves to keep busy hands from getting to it. Don't get me wrong.... I like the sound it makes. It's a good solid train whistle. But to hear Woo Woo... multiple times over and over again all day long. You get the idea.

Posted: Friday, October 18, 2019 9:20:04 AM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
A project idea from inception to fruition

I'm at the thrift store rummaging through shop stuff and come across a Hello fresh box. This hello is a different font from our other hello, so I ask for the empty box and they were glad to give it to me. I proceed to cut along the lines as best I could. This is the result.

The school has some old aluminum trays which I sometimes use for templates when it looks as if they can easily break when made from 1/4" plywood. I traced around the cardboard and came up with this.

Of course I have to also be able to make it from wood to gauge the difficulty and to also have a display for the shop. I cut it from MDF. The art teacher was kind enough to paint it for me.

The kids really like it and some of them tell me they would like to make it from aluminum. No.... that's just too hard! Although it wasn't too bad cutting it from the MDF, it is still hard enough for them.

It's kind of funny that this thread started as a way to share project ideas only to end up being a running log of activity on building a school wood shop at a school that doesn't really have the money to do what we are doing. I hope you are enjoying seeing what we have been working towards, even as I begin to think it's almost time for me to retire again. Physical things as you get older can really bog you down and that's what is happening to me.

If you haven't taken the time to look back at some of the updates I have been making to each post, then you are missing out on some really great stuff. I figured out how to make links within this site, that will go directly to each post. Slow connections or Internet speeds might require a little patience to load, but using the back browser arrow brings you directly back to where you left off reading. For example.... here is a direct link to the crankyman automata post and the back arrow brings you back here.

These links help clarify or point out ideas without a lot of fumbling around on your part. Now this makes me wish I would have made the posts smaller, concentrating on a single concept/issue/project, but doing that creates more pages. However, I could further direct teachers to these concepts in greater detail... so maybe some day I will be able to break it up into smaller sections. Doing this as an after thought would not keep them in chronological order. That order is part of what I think makes it more fascinating.... to watch a budding program thrive from day to day, week to week, etc... and work within the constraints of the times.

It's also too bad that DivShare has messed up their site. If any of you have been trying to get material on the broken links, let me know. I found my stash of material on one of my external hard drives, so I should be able to send them over e-mail. As I have time in the future, I would have uploaded this material to photobucket and remake the links, however, photobucket changed the free user agreement and I'm unsure as to what will work and what won't. Contact me so I can send material directly over e-mail.

Here are some general page short cuts for you...

Go to page 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5... 6 ... 7... 8... 9...10... 11...12...13

A message to new wood shop teachers who may have stumbled onto this site!

Because of spam... this site has been closed for quite some time now, but if you would like to join, we could use some new blood. The older guys have been retiring and thinning out the ranks. I didn't ask permission to post this, but I found out from a new member that he did this to gain access.... Send an e-mail to I have noticed that this is helping new members get into the site while keeping the spammers out.

I've seen at least thirteen new members have signed up since making this notice.
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