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Roy Smith
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Default OT (kinda) High School Wood Shop

In article ,
Larry Laminger wrote:

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

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.