OT (kinda) High School Wood Shop

Killing a little time here waiting for the Colts game.
The thread about getting started in woodworking got me reminiscing and thinking about what's happened to high school wood shop. Back in the 60's and 70's, my school in rural Missouri had a killer industrial arts program. It was small, there where about 80 kids in my graduating class. The high school had moved to a new building and the three story building was converted (via grants from major machine manufacturer's) into a wonderland. The first floor contained a wood shop stocked with Rockwell iron and tool cabinets overflowing with handtools. There was also a metal shop complete with foundry.
The 2nd floor contained the electric and power mechanics shops. The third floor contained the drafting room and classrooms for each of the lower level shops.
Every male child was required to take one class here during their 4 year high school stint. You had to maintain a decent GPA in traditional studies and complete the state mandated curriculum, but that left plenty of time for shop classes.
We had great instructors there who took an honest interest in their function as mentors. You where constantly challenged to do more...and felt good about yourself when you did. I know a lot of this had to do with the small number of students they had to deal with. But these guys made you feel like they cared. They would make you build upon what you knew. They made you think outside the box before thinking outside the box was cool...or even a common expression =:~0
I took drafting and wood shop the first semester of my freshman year. These where very basic classes and you did what was dictated to you. In wood shop, the power tools where just to look at. You did everything by hand and to the plan. You had to show that you could tune and sharpen the tools before you began any project...and grading was tough.
Second semester I took Wood II and Metal Shop. In Wood II we where introduced to a few of the machines. Metal Shop was just cool. The first project there was a hand forged cold chisel and a few brass castings and a sheet metal tool box.
Sophomore year was Wood III and Electricity first semester, Wood IV and Power Mechanics for the second. Electricity was a lot of theory and putting together some basic circuits, Power Mech. you had to tear down a 3 HP Briggs & Straton engine then put it back together. You passed if it ran. In Wood III you where allowed to pick any plan from the school's library to build. Wood IV, you build what you wished so long as plan existed and it was approved by the instructor. I made a turned salad bowl set complete with serving utensils.
Once you completed 4 classes in any of the offered areas, you became eligible to take a class just called Industrial Arts. That's where the real fun came in. You started you project in the drafting room and carried through to completion. It was loosely structured and you pretty much had run of the building for making your project. Guys made some awesome stuff. I was able to take this class 2 hours a day in both my Jr. and Sr. year. I made a crossbow with walnut stock. I made the aluminum bow and trigger assembly in the metal shop. Also made a long bow with zebrawood riser. (Bet they don't allow kids to make them anymore in high school.)
I was back in Elsberry two years ago for the first time in about 20 years. I wanted to see how the program has evolved (if not faded away). I was there to bury my mom next to dad and not in the really in the mood to follow up at the time.
I'm not sure how unique this set-up was in the early 70's. Since then I've lived in Memphis, Virginia Beach and Indianapolis. I'm amazed when I talk to kids and find out how pitiful wood shop classes have become...if the school even offers them. Damn lawyers.
Are there any good programs left out there for the kids?
Sorry for rambling on.
--
Larry G. Laminger
http://woodworks.laminger.com
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Don't normally read through long posts completely, but it was a good one. You can go home again, even if it's only memories. Never gave much thought to my own similiar experiences during the same time period in Iowa but your post took me back. Thanks.
Don

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My earliest exposure to industrial arts came in the late 60's while growing up in Brooklyn. I must have been around 8 or 9 when I got to take a woodshop course at the local Y. All hand tools (I remember a cage where the machines were kept, and only the teacher was allowed to use them).
Then we moved to suburban New Jersey. In the 7th & 8th grades (Jr. High), I took wood shop (turned a lamp on the lathe, starting from a bowling pin) one year and metal and plastics shop the next.
I remember the woodshop guy would get frustrated with people not wanting to sand their projects enough, so he's scribble all over your work with a pencil and tell you to go away and not come back until all the pencil marks were gone! You didn't get to use a tool or a machine until you passed a written safety test. It didn't matter what the clock said, nobody got out of the shop at the end of the class until every tool was back in it's place the the floor was swept clean.
The metal shop was equipped for sheet metal work, soldering and welding, had a foundary for casting and forging, and a few machines like thread cutting lathes. We're talking 13 and 14 year old kids working with red hot metal out of the forge and pouring molten metal for castings.
I don't remember much of what we did with plastics, but I'm sure I got my first snorts of carcinogens from the solvents there :-)
Also took a printing course where we did silk screen, woodcut, and the like. One of the math teachers ran a photo club in Jr. High, where we learned to develop our own film. I guess this was 1972 or so.
In high school, I took 2 years of mechanical drawing and 1 year of architectural drawing. I remember our final project in architectural drawing was to build a model of the high school building. We got the guys in the print shop involved to churn out sheets of "siding" paper, printed with a scale rendition of the brick the building was made out of. I actually made use of those skills: I got a summer job between my freshman and sophmore years in college doing drafting at a metal fabricating shop. I got friendly with some of the guys in the shop, and they showed me how to do neat stuff like using the oxygen jet cutting torches and driving the forklift.
There was a whole wing of art and shop rooms in High School, but I didn't take any of those. My recollection is that the shops were pretty well equipped, and of course there were guys rebuilding cars and tearing engines apart. But by then I had gotten the computer bug, and was spending all my time learning Basic on the time-sharing system we had access to from a teletype with a 110 baud modem in one of the math rooms.
I have no clue what's being taught there today. I supsect the shops are long since closed down due to declining interest and liability concerns.
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IIRC I attended a science teachers meeting there about that time while I was teaching at Monroe City(20 mi. west of Hannibal). smallworldisn'tit..
Larry
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Small indeed...Howdy neighbor!
Lawrence L'Hote wrote:

--
Larry G. Laminger
http://woodworks.laminger.com
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 18:08:10 -0600, Larry Laminger

and early seventies. when i joined the navy in 75 i went to the phillipines and on the way back a choppper landed up on deck and i was blown away at what i saw. it seems the captains brother was none other than [ you guessed it ] my shop teacher! now we were somewhere between the phillipines and hawaii. small world indeed... skeez
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It wasn't the Colts game. It was the New England game. Indy just showed up, sorta. (And I was rooting for them, dangit!)
Two non-calls were crucial. Interference on consecutive passes, 3rd & 10 and 4th & 10; the first was questionable, the second was blatant. Either would have allowed the Colts to advance, but neither was called.
Of course, if you're counting on a call when you're playing catch-up, with 1:46 left in the game, you can't blame the officials. The officials didn't throw 4 interceptions and boot a snap through the endzone, after all.
Kevin
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Oh, the Colts played today?!?!? :~)
Kevin Craig wrote:

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Larry G. Laminger
http://woodworks.laminger.com
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 20:32:08 -0600, Larry Laminger

Yes they did, but not very well. Hell, Tennessee gave the Pats a better game. Sorry to rub it in.
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Sorry, I got distracted by football in my first reply.

Oh, so you went to one of those big schools, eh? My class (Hatfield, Arkansas, Class of 1981) was 24 students (and not all of them actually graduated).
Ours was the biggest class to date; my sister's '77 class had 11 graduates.
Anyhoo, now that we've played "mine is smaller than yours!", let me say that I envy your school experience. We had one teacher per subject, and the Agri teacher was responsible for Shop. His knowledge of woodworking was limited to a circular saw and a hammer; his skills in metalworking were confined to a cutting torch and a Lincoln buzz-box arc welder.
Physical Education was nothing but basketball practice (if you weren't on the team, you sat in the stands and did homework, and swept the court when the players were through). Likewise, Agri was FFA: if you wanted to do something besides sweep the shop, you better compete. (And I did, winning State titles, but was still pretty much shut out when I didn't choose the teacher's alma mater and chose a major other than Agri-Business.)
We had lots of good "stuff" in the shop: it was (is) 40x120, and the classroom takes up about 20' up front. There was a Unisaw, big ol' planersaur, bandsaur, lathe, and jointer, all Delta. There was a milling machine and other mysterious metalworking stuff. It all remained a mystery, because the teacher only knew how to cut with oxyacetalene, and weld with a buzz box.
I learned enough tool safety and common sense at home that I didn't get injured at school. Many didn't, and got hurt. I honestly didn't learn a thing in HS shop, except how to glue steel together with boogers.
Kevin
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 13:39:54 -0600, Larry Laminger

technical school.
First year was exploratory shop where each student had a few weeks of each shop available. I recall there being automotive, wood, metal working, plumbing and electrical. There was also the required subjects like english, math and science. Starting in sophmore year a student would specialize in one particular shop. The guys that took plumbing ended up going for 5 years instead of 4, but came out with an apprenticeship, and hopefully a journeyman's card eventually.
All that was fun, but the best time I remember was woodshop in grade school. Not much in the power tool area, but sawing up some boards by hand, hand planing & sanding were great. There was also a little metalworking. That was limited to cutting out an aluminum disk and making a serving tray out of it. I don't think they do that anymore.
My dad made some stuff, not much. He thinks my own interest is hereditary. His father built lots of furniture. He passed away at the incredibily young age of 48. I never got to meet him. :(
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Not here in Howard county Maryland anymore I bought the last of the (new) equipment last year.

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Nice response Leonard. You quoted 48 lines for a 2 line reply.
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Maybe he also participates in rec.food.cooking, where as long as one bottom posts, the response to quoted ratio is never taken into account.
--
Think thrice, measure twice and cut once.

Sanding is like paying taxes ... everyone has to do it, but it is
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Lewisville HS in Texas has a good program going. I visited their shop last spring and came away green with envy. Almost every tool in the place was a Powermatic except for the 36" drum sander. Even had a panel table attachment for the table saw.
My next-door-neighbor's daughter in her junior year made a grandfather clock that took third in state competition. In her senior year she made a secretary similar to the one featured in FWW a couple of years ago. It not only took first in state, but was Grand Champion at the national level. Wish I could build something that pretty!
Roy
leonard wrote:

<big snip>

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I thought that your posting was super. Unfortuneatley, all across the country school shops are being eliminated in favor of (in many cases) what is called the Tech Lab. Tech Labs are what I think is nothing more than canned learning using computers. Remember the film strips they used to have which also had a tape player too. It would say a few words then there would be a beep and you'd advance the film for some more words and another beep. Well computers, as teachers, are nothing more than a follow on to that system. A few years ago the reigning thought was that the US was going into a "service" oriented economy. Everyone would be facilitating some kind of service, presumeably at a computer terminal with a telephone. That would be where the jobs would be at so you better get on the computer bandwagon. Anyone see 60 minutes on Jan 11? It appears that with the satellite communications all of these so called service jobs are going to India. I guess the distance is no longer a factor if you are just trading information, but I submit that jobs such as house building and repair, that require skill with tools still can't be exported. I think that we still need shop in the schools and it's a shame we are losing them. About the only good thing to come out of their demise is that there are often bargains to be had when the schools have their auctions.
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Right, they can't. The Bush plan is to import Mexicans for that.
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