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My First Woodworking Project!


When I completed this letter holder in 7th grade woodshop, I had no idea that I'd end up as an editor at a woodworking magazine. In those days, woodshop was one of three manual training classes that all boys in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa public schools had to complete (print shop and metal shop were the other two required classes). Girls, of course, were assigned to "home economics" classes.
This project introduced us to working with hand tools. We had to plane the rough board and joint the edges, lay out, rip and crosscut the three pieces, true the ends and chamfer the edges with a block plane, sand the pieces, glue and clamp them, and brush on the shellac finish. We were allowed to choose from walnut, cherry or poplar. As you can see, I chose poplar (this choice could be classified as the first blunder of my woodworking career).
I received a "C" for my completed project. On the grading sheet, Mr. Willits, my woodshop instructor (who was rumored to pitch blocks of wood at students who weren't paying attention), wrote that the pieces weren't cut squarely, so the ends didn't align flush, and that my careless sanding had rounded the 45˚chamfers. Nevertheless, my mom used this letter holder for almost 40 years!
Okay, now it's your turn. Scroll to the bottom of this page and add a comment to tell the tale of your first woodworking project!

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Attachment: holder_002.jpg


Vern52 wrote re: My First Woodworking Project!
on 02-25-2009 11:50 AM

Great story Tim! For my first project I was introduced to the assembly line. Each person in my 7th grade class was stationed at a different machine to produce a set of 4 small wooden houses which each had a letter on them spelling out "NOEL" for a holiday decoration. I was stationed at the drill press where I drilled holes that would eventually accept a short dowel to represent a chimney. It wasn't the most fulfilling activity as you can imagine.

My second project however was a Swedish door harp made of walnut. To this day, when I smell walnut in the shop it conjures up memories of those early days in the shop.

bmoore wrote re: My First Woodworking Project!
on 02-26-2009 7:14 PM

Well my first project was in 1955. I was to make a yule log for my mom. I did go get the birch log and cut it a about a 45* angle, it was close not having a angle guage but the buck saw worked great. I used a brace and flat blade drill to drill out the holes for the candles and went in the woods cut some pine bowls to decorate the log. My mom used it every Christmas for years, even after I came home from service.

Discscout wrote re: My First Woodworking Project!
on 02-27-2009 11:41 AM

My first project also was in seventh grade; a slanted bookrack made entirely with hand tools. We could use any wood we wanted as long as we wanted pine. Square the boards and shape the chamfered edges with planes, handsaws to cut to width and length and a brace and bit to drill the holes for the short doweled legs to create the lean. I faired a little better grade wise; I got a B-. I have this project sitting on my desk in front of me as I now give out the grades. I am a high school woodworking instructor. Although I don't have kids square their boards with planes; I do require a lot of hand tool usage so they learn the names and their functions.

Realz wrote re: My First Woodworking Project!
on 03-20-2009 8:33 AM

I also was in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa school district.  I think I remember Mr. Willits.  Was he at Franklin Jr High school?  To date myself, I would have been in 7th grade in 67/68.

I don't remember if this was my first project, but I remember that everyone had to make a cutting board made from different types of wood.  Mine had turned legs on it.  My mother still had it when she passed.  

I still have a large turning that I made during class, to be a candle holder (walnut) that sits on the floor. The turning is 3 feet tall.