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Profile: tbockman
User Name: tbockman
Forum Rank: Newbie
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Joined: Friday, November 17, 2006
Last Visit: Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:53:26 AM
Number of Posts: 0
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Last 10 Posts
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2018 8:16:02 AM
Boxes are cool...

This is the third year of wood shop for Ginny. I'm pretty sure she has made almost everything there is to make for a sixth grader, so when I set her loose on the computer to look up a project idea, she came up with this...

The top was easier to make then you would think. A simple half log from a cottonwood branch did the trick nicely. There is a removable layer inside the lid that has a bank slot.

The corners were not very fancy, but they got covered up anyway.

Then there is Nate's redwood box. Nate spent the time to make the fancy finger joint corners.

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

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 twelve new members have signed up since making this notice.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:33:28 AM
It's all about the 8th graders...

Madison has only been in my classes once before. Considering she hasn't been around year after year like all the other students, she took on one of our more challenging projects when it comes to the scroll saw.

Taking her time to sand everything as she goes, this is turning out to be one of the best dinosaur banks we have ever had completed. Nicely done.

The pride on her face says it all!

This next 8th grader is also an exceptional example. Marshall takes time to plan exactly what he wants for his game pieces.

He is one of the few students to do this, and I might add... completely on his own initiative.

He will go so far as to set the fence on the table saw and I will make the cuts. Another year and he can do his own table saw cuts, but there is only one high school wood shop program left around here that I know of. My guess is that he won't be able to go to that school. The sad truth is, it may not be challenging enough for him at that particular school.

Some of the adjustments have changed the way drawers open. The top drawer bottom is now also the shelf. I worry that when weather conditions turn wet, his drawers may become sluggish or won't be able to open. I've talked to him about this and we are trying to make the best of it. We have talked about grain direction on every piece. It is sure one heck of a learning experience.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:15:38 AM
Only a few challenges remaining

While it is nice to have completed the majority of what I set out to do five and a half years ago, it is also sad in a way that there is little challenging things left. That may seem counter intuitive as we all want to simply work with our kids and be left alone for the most part, but it always makes me happiest when there are at least some things to be planning for. Who likes to just coast? Not me! What is this wood shop teacher to do?

New projects will keep coming along. I take my cues from what the students want to do. Some projects fade into the background while others come to the forefront. It happens all the time, except in high school, it was much larger items being built. One challenge that remains is a tough nut to crack... limited space.

That means we have to keep our projects on the small side. Here is what one of the 21st Century sixth graders did in just a few days.

I have yet to figure out how to take in focus close ups with the new camera. Now there's a new challenge for me to focus on.

This is from the after school program. Jillian managed to make a walking robot that works better than mine... or maybe just as good anyway. I did have to step in when we were turning the feet, you know, to get the right curve. The lathe curve has a template to check and make sure the curve is correct. Otherwise she did most of the work herself. An exceptional job since this project requires them to work from a cutting list and model and no other templates.

A roll of the dice

One of my former colleagues (about 12 years my senior) gave me a set of large dice he made in Junior High. He ended up hanging them from his rear view mirror in his 55 Chevy when he attended Rincon High School in Tucson Arizona. Hmmm.... I remember when those cars (and older) were commonly on the road.

I brought them in to show the students an "old school" project made in the 1960's junior high wood shop. I say old school because dice today have any number of sides and symbols that this old guy wouldn't care to understand.

I decided to take a gamble on my 4th graders and proceeded to make one so I knew how to set up the dots and fix the corners to have the right look... and then cut up some 2"x4"'s and let the after school kids try their hand at making one.

As for the kids, they loved it and everyone wanted to do one at the same time. Can you say, "long lines at the drill press?" And while some made theirs willy nilly... others took their time and spaced the dots correctly.

Oh well, what can you expect from 4th graders? I guess I should have made up a better way for them to understand before they drilled up all the blocks. I cut up more and started showing them what to do. That lost their interest real fast.

Isn't half the fun of woodworking doing it your own way? Everyone knows that. Especially me. :)
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 2018 7:32:24 AM
I broke my camera...

For the past 5 years I have been using my own personal camera to take pictures, and sadly that camera went bye-bye. I kept it in my front pants pocket all this time and one day the screen cracked. It still worked, but that rendered it almost useless since everything is practically done using that screen.

But the day the whole thing wouldn't even turn on was sad indeed, especially when I looked at new ones. I bought this one used from my daughter when she upgraded hers. I didn't know anything about cameras these days except about this one which was a pretty good one and difficult to replace. Who knew they could be so pricey... so I bought the cheapest Walmart camera I could find, and you know it takes pretty good pictures too. The school decided to pay me back which makes it even better.

The fact is, there have been so many good projects that I missed since they have already gone home.

I'm getting more used to the idea that it is OK to not wear a hair tie when you have to have your picture taken.

This wood is part of the lot that I cut up on the new band saw and planed in the new planer. Pretty good when you consider it was once piled outside under a pine tree.

This may sound dumb, but this 7th grader literally "nailed it"! She used the nail gun by herself to reinforce the corners. Good job Koural!

This is another 7th grade project...

And with Christmas on the way, the lovable snowman...

This is the very best snowman ever! Hadassah used hot glue for eyes and buttons, then painted them.

And... makes sure he stays warm since it just got a lot colder around here.

Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:22:08 AM
On a personal note...

When I do finally decide to retire, I'd wouldn't mind coming home to something like this in my shop...

A concept by Matthias Wandel that has been made into this mostly metal, accurate final product. After seeing this, I can imagine myself getting one. I don't usually purchase stuff for myself, but when it comes time, this could be on my wish list.

The biggest problem I can see is... how often would I use it? How many dovetails or mortise & tendon joints would I have to make in order for the more than $1800 price tag to pay for itself. Maybe I should rethink this idea. I like what it can do, but it may not be worth that investment... at least for someone like me. Now if I had money for the school... then I could use it with the students.

About five years ago someone bought me the plans for the wooden version. That might be about as far as I can take this... using it as a "for fun" retirement project.

No offense intended toward Matthias. I think it is an ingenious invention and the metal version is fantastic. It just seems a wasteful prospect for someone to keep it all to themselves for a few projects in retirement.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, October 06, 2018 1:39:37 PM
Adding another detail...

The grant is all about making our shop safer. Our pint sized safety storage cabinet just got here. Just out of the crate with packing materials still in the door, I can't wait to fill it.

I have to raise our work table 2" in order to get this cabinet to fit beneath it and out of our way. In a small area like we have, every square inch is meaningful and I have never felt comfortable with keeping our combustibles out on the table, hidden under the table, or put away in a cardboard box somewhere.

Now I'm waiting for an eyewash station to be moved over to the shop from another room where it is currently unused. Luckily there's enough grant left to get this done and to continue making our shop great. Next, I'm thinking about adding led lights to brighten up the room.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2018 10:16:33 AM
Emerging talents

As these 7th graders are proving, they can really build the projects. Jenny is an old hand at this having started in the 4th grade. I've also perfected the way to get the right background color to show without being even being a tint off. Although it is tedious to take out the background for this, it does set off the image in a striking way.

Project skill increases with each build. Crankyman is coming together nicely.

As for the skill building... Hannah is a first timer in wood shop, but make no mistake, her skills at "hands on" learning are impressive indeed.

Hannah has been introduced to multiple machines and has is a natural when it comes to details like the crank handle.

And, with only one week remaining before fall break, both of these girls can be proud of their work as they have been cranking out impressive project after impressive project.
Topic: Table saw suggestions
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 8:23:34 AM
Everyone should have a SawStop

I thought it might be a good idea to float this back to the top for anybody who is new to teaching wood shop.

This is a thumb photo taken a week after one of our office staff had cut herself on an old tablesaw that she uses at home.

Compare... stitches vs. napkin...

I also wanted to let you know that SawStop seems to have noticed some of the same problems I've talked about and they have done something about it in their new designs.

Where to start...

The saw I have now was the floor Rockler store model, so it came already set up.

A list of the annoying problems we previously had with our Sawstop machines....

1. The brake would sometimes go off for no apparent reason. The company would test them anyway and count it as a finger touch and usually replaced them. It cost about $125 to restore it back unless SawStop sends you a free replacement brake, worth about $60. Like I've already said, reusing blades that appear OK is not a good idea. One we tried to salvage ended up losing a tooth and we never determined where that tooth ended up.

We have been using the saw a lot for slicing up cutting board material in a variety of hardwoods. It has not failed once. As I was taking this photo, I noticed the plastic tape barrier already on the brake.

2. Sometimes the blade embedded brake was difficult to get out of the machine. Remembering back, it seemed there was an optimum blade height that made it easier to remove. Still, it took time to restore and until you could get to it, the saw would be out of commission.

Since we have not even tried to change the blade, there is no news to report on this topic.

3. We broken a key. It simply twisted off, and even using the other key, the brake still could not be turned off (if you needed to cut high moisture wood).

No news to report.

4. The blade height lock wedge pieces wore away much too easy and the ground up metal would mix with the grease becoming so thick the crank would barely turn. SawStop acknowledged the problem and gave me new ones, but they quickly did the same thing again, so I removed them completely.

Runs up and down and tilts (in the opposite direction which is very nice) with none of the previous issues.

You can see in this left tilt photo that the riving knife also comes with the SawStop and is used on all European saws because it makes the saw safer. Here it is off the saw.

5. The surface flush door latch to hold the lower compartment door shut, quit working. I had to rig something to keep it closed to hold down (close) the open door switch so the saw could run.

The access to the lower compartment has moved to the other side where it is much more convenient. It does not contain that same latch, and is a smaller molded plastic door. Access to the lower compartment is much easier.

6. The small dust port would always get clogged leaving the saw dust to spill into the lower base of the saw. By the time you'd catch it, it was way over full, causing you to have to stop everything and clean it out. This happened all the time at the cabinet shop too. If you haven't had to clean one of these out on a regular basis, it's not exactly easy, especially when they were made to not fill up with dust all the time.

Some of that may have been the old style dust collector we had with 4" pipe running 40 feet under a concrete floor. Who knows if the 1966 pipes had rusted through. I know there was a spring close by and when the maintenance had to shore up a pillar near the office, there was water under the floor. No reason to believe it wasn't in other areas of the building too, but all that is moot. The left side access makes clean out much easier.

7. It was sometimes finicky. The error lights would light or blink codes even when nothing was wrong. You would have to shut it down and restart it multiple times to reset/clear the computer.

I've only had one blinking code that was due to turning off the saw with the wrong switch. I have not replaced a brake or blade and have not had any other issues with this so far. SawStop won the patent infringement issue.

Lastly, if you want to keep the shop cleaner, use the vacuum guard. When I have close cutting to do... without the vacuum guard in place, it sure kicks up a ton of dust.

I hope this information helps.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 6:47:36 PM
The box makers

Champ is now our 8th grade class president and is also one heck of a wood shop enthusiast since at least the fifth grade. When he wanted a special box for his game pieces, he drew it up, put sizes to it and decided the redwood I recently cut and planed would be perfect for the project.

The small drawer has a lathe made knob and the top is hinged. Rabbet and dado joints help hold this together. The photo is before hinges and before applying a clear oil finish. The front has laser engraving using an old laser someone gave the school. After tinkering with it, it works, but we just aren't sure for how long. See Champs last project.

Hannah made her oak box with finger joints. The top is friction fit and has an alpaca engraving that she loves so much. Her box turned out so well that one of the teachers commissioned one with an elk on the lid.

Once it was completed, to the delight of Ms. Post, it was perfect in her eyes and mine.

Jenny has been in my class since the forth grade and is also making a finger joint oak box with a friction fit top.

Nathan shows off his work which is yet to be completed. First time in wood shop, 7th grade and wow... he is loving wood shop.

I was playing with back ground colors to see if I could make the photos match the page background since I can't save clear anymore.

I made Nathan open the corner for effect. Made on the router table, he had only one or two that needed adjustments when he was done. He also learned about grain direction when he went down the wrong way on one end.

The T&G softwood wood came from one of the local builders. It was resawn on the band saw to make it thinner and to save wood.

Also in 7th grade, Haylie loves wood shop too. Here is her box before being glued.

Haylie glues two opposing corners, makes sure they are sitting square, then waits to glue the final corners. Each finger needs a coating of glue. More surface area is what makes this a strong corner joint.

And yes... that is the newly donated glue. It runs thick and makes the job a little easier by keeping drips to a minimum.

Nathan can't wait and makes a bottom, glues the corners and walks away satisfied knowing the bottom will hold it square and the clamps will keep it in place until it is ready.

We are now over 300,000 hits. I'm pretty sure that is a record on this site.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 2:31:56 PM
Everyone should have a SawStop!

This is what can happen when you don't have a smart safety saw. One of our staff was making a cut on their home saw and this is what happened and what stitches look like after the first week. I didn't ask, but it almost looks as if it hit the bone. Ouch.

The hurt thumb...

When she stopped me in the office and told me the story, I couldn't believe it. I promised to relay the safety message to everyone on-line without revealing her name even though she said I could.

I've had a couple of close calls on the table saw, but have been lucky to not have hurt myself... knock on wood.

Here are some of the scraps that the cabinet shop gives to us. These are being prepared for the students to make cutting boards since they can't make these cuts themselves. It looks like red oak, white oak, hickory, maple, mahogany, alder, poplar and walnut.

Thank you for helping Mr. Leon. Some day this shop will be yours and this is part of your training. While you have only spent two class periods cutting so far, I have been at this on and off for a couple of weeks already, and this is my sixth year at this school.

Speaking of donations, I have a former colleague from my other school who is starting to downsize and invited me to back in at his garage so we could fill the back of my truck. Some of these items will be perfect for school and some for home.

I score tons of free stuff for the school and this is one of those scores. Although a bit old, the glue in these six bottles still flows and still works for our purposes.

Then,using my connections, we for the first time have a complete set of hole saws with all the mandrels. Now the new students who begin with the puzzle have a way to not only keep better track of their progress, but also to share the hole saws on multiple machines.


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