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Posted: Friday, September 29, 2017 12:49:08 PM
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Monster Truck!

What in the world could a radio control chassis...
be doing in wood shop?

Scott is at it again. Knowing that there is only one week remaining in the quarter, and that he will soon be changing classes in the rotation, Scott hurries to complete this Monster Truck.

His first plan was to disassemble the chassis and use the parts for his creation, but reason and time both made him rethink that and I can't wait to hear back about how it works at home.

Go back to Scott's last project.
Posted: Friday, September 29, 2017 1:12:16 PM
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Now I've had high school students make Plinko games for math class before, but never as elaborate as this 7th grade student's creation. Marshall decided to give this a try and has never wavered from working to complete it no matter what got in his way...including me. I wasn't too thrilled about it because of past experience.

Undaunted, Marshall carefully measures out where to drill for the pegs, then brings it over for me to check before proceeding to the drill press. I'm looking at it and telling him something is not quite right... let's draw a few diagonal lines. Yep, they were a little off and after making the lines, he quickly adjusts where to drill 1/4" peg holes.

Next comes the cabinet parts. After I cut grooves on the table saw for the top, sides and bottom, Marshall heads to the drill press and scroll saw to cut the slots.

Now we try fitting the cabinet parts together making sure everything lines up. So far, it seems to be alright.

And... to me it is impressive to see the puck bounce around plinking its way down the peg board during the test. It works way better than the high school ones thrown together by students needing extra credit to pass math. Their Plinko games were larger, but somehow a bunch of screws instead of actual pegs made them look awkward. They just didn't look or work very well.

No one has been more motivated than Marshall is... as he gets the newly purchased Plexiglas to the school the very next day. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone get materials for wood shop this quickly. The bottom trays are completed, the Plexiglas cut to size and installed and boy does it look and work nice. All that is left to do is assign points to the tray bins.

Impressive is what everyone thinks... as he takes it out of wood shop to his next classes. So impressive that he is asked if the school can use it in the fall festival. Now that's saying something.... and their plan is to put candy in the bottom trays that kids will be able to win during the festival instead of assigning points. Now there's a good idea.

I am so impressed by Marshall, and the way his project works that I may just have to try one for myself...Um ...I mean for a class prototype.
Posted: Sunday, October 15, 2017 3:58:05 PM
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How to project a thriving multi-level woodworking program.

I recently rediscovered this collage image that was included with our grant application. I was hoping we might already have the funds, but not yet.

Although we are still in the running for a significant private grant for a whole shop exhaust system, a laser engraver, and a SawStop, the process is slowly working it's way to completion.... hopefully in our favor. At least my wish is to have good news soon.

As usual, I'll keep you posted.

***UPDATE*** Mid-December Good news! I have confirmation that we were selected to receive the grant for a complete exhaust system... and hopefully enough left over for a SawStop. Nope... no laser engraver unless I can find out more about the ones I'm seeing for the X-Carve. I'm checking up on that now. Funds should be available in the new year... 2018... so more post on the way as we put together our NEW exhaust system. Hurray!
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 10:55:49 AM
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Weighing in on a new X-Carve software option called Easel Pro

As X-Carve begins the take over of the planet... just kidding... or maybe not!

Early access

Inventables keeps improving their Easel software and recently added a new option. Having been invited early access to try out this new option for a month before it was launched, I had the chance to experience what I thought should have always been a part of the Easel package. It's called Easel Pro and is specifically designed for business to speed up the process and cut more of a 3D image using a v-bit. It reminds me of (but still falls a bit short of) the $100 add-on Center-line text software that CarveWright came out with.


My first Easel Pro project didn't go as planned and no one seems to know exactly why. Here is what happened. I got my software trial notification with a sample coaster design that looked kind of like something we at Franklin Phonetic School might like, so I tried it out, and unfortunately had a disappointing outcome.

I did make a couple of changes that shouldn't have altered the carve too much, as I switched the letter to a B for Bockman and took off the 2nd stage cut out. It was fun to watch the machine move in new mysterious ways and it looked as if all was going well, until about a forth of the way through the carve when Easel announced it was "complete".

Hummm.... doesn't complete mean doing the entire carve?

***UPDATE*** 11-4-17 I have since seen where other early users have posted that they have had this same issue, so it wasn't an anomaly.

Understanding that it was eventually going to be a subscription based service, I started experimenting with other software to see if there was a way around having to pay for Easel Pro which didn't seem to be working on my end anyway. If you have been following my progress on this thread, you know my school would never be able to afford a subscription. If they could, then why do I continually dumpster dive for materials behind the cabinet shop?

And, Easel Pro sounded so good until that incomplete carve incident, and of course our Fall break got in the middle of it too. I didn't feel like spending the break at the school playing with what may have gone wrong, but I did try to contact someone at Inventables. I never got an actual reply beyond the customary e-mail form letter acknowledgement. Disappointed when I didn't ever hear more, I vented my frustrations on one of the Inventables threads and one of the Inventables staff asked a little bit about what went wrong, so they did eventually get my message through a different avenue. The good news is Inventables listens to their customers and makes changes accordingly.

So is there a work around?

While on that same thread, I made contact with one of the most prolific non-staff commenters. He actually approached me first with suggestions on ways to work around Easel. He probably has more on-line comments at Inventables than anyone and he runs a business called, "Designs by Phil, LLC". Phil went out of his way to be helpful. He doesn't have to do that, but by golly he does it anyway and I can't thank him enough for all he did for me and my students.

Phil introduced me to F-Engrave and gave me a tutorial he made on how he actually uses it to generate G-Code and import it into Easel. F-Engrave also recognizes all the True Type fonts you have on your computer.


F-Engrave is a little more complicated than Easel and it is much harder to see on screen results before a carve as the viewing pane doesn't show the material size or even the carve location. You have to rely completely on the home position which I had to adjust so the carve would not hug the edges, but instead be somewhat centered.

It can be a bit more confusing

I wasn't sure which download to choose, but took a chance and downloaded the one that looked the most like what I should use and then worked through his tutorial setting each item before saving it to G-code.


Before I show the product of that G-code carve, let me first show you what Easel and X-Carve does without the Pro add-on. It engraves with flat bottom results. This 2" high LOVE was carved in about 20 minutes with an eighth inch 60 degree V-point engraving bit. It looks very nice and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it other than how long it monopolizes the X-Carve during class.

After importing G-Code

Using the same eighth inch 60 degree V-point bit (I didn't have a better bit choice on hand at that time), here is what processing it through F-Carve does in about 4 minutes. I had to adjust the home position to properly center the carve. The students who saw this sample... preferred this one over the other samples. It does look better in real life than the photo. The V-groove is deeper and creates a good shadow that the flash doesn't show here.

This worked much better than I thought it might and one big advantage is that students can't change the G-code, so it will carve the same no matter what, as long as it is never erased. Since it is a separate program and kept in a folder on your computer instead of on-line, students wouldn't even know how to erase the original.

Easel projects stay on-line, and are easier to change or delete.

Watch out!

In Easel, your saved projects are kept on-line and if a student happens to save a project, but leave it open on the computer when they walk away, then another student can change it... not knowing they are ruining another students project... and it is then lost forever.

Not only that, but if the project happens to be oversized, it may look the same size on the screen, but because I use a quick release jig system, students can accidentally run the bit into hold down clamps and metal screws not realizing this project size difference they can't see on the screen is going to run the bit where they don't expect it to go. We have seen this happen twice!

***UPDATE*** 11-4-17 Easel Pro creates a whole new issue in that you can't make a copy when using new fonts or V-bits. The problem with that is not being able to shortcut the process since you have to manually re-enter all the settings. This causes more complications as it can get confusing for young students. Previously we could make a copy and make a few quick changes before running another student's project. That ability is gone (at least until they fix it) and that means more time on both my part and the students part. Bummer!

Using a larger V-bit

This next X-Carve experiment is an 8 minute V-Carve using a 1/2" 60 degree V-bit which adds depth. In other words, it is not a flat bottom but a V groove. It was created in Easel Pro and this carve ran to completion, so Inventables must have found and fixed the problem I was having earlier.

I try to be proactive and have since purchased Phils favorite... a Whiteside 1540 V-Groove 60-Degree 1/4-Inch True point router bit. Phil reminds us that most V-bits do not come to a true point. Now I'm ready to experiment more with Easel Pro... but can't see paying for it once the trial period is over.

***UPDATE*** 11-4-17 I upload this photo of the same project using the new 1/4" bit. The 1/4" bit in Easel Pro did an awesome job in less than 7 minutes, .05 depth... making the best looking out of the test set. The 1/4" V-bit is perfect for this particular use.

In X-Carveland dreams can come true!

What is this...? Can it be true? I made on-line comments of how this should be free to schools, and in my wildest dreams... during their live web announcement, they said education will have unlimited free access. Business will pay $19.95 per month and all other Easel users will get 4 free consecutive days of Pro per month and I think they may also have a plan where you can purchase just a few extra hours. That means non-business users can design and save up projects to carve all at once if they like. Cool!

***UPDATE*** 11-4-17 Watching someones video made me notice something I previously missed. The feed rates can be changed during a cut so if you see the project is running smoothly, you can speed it up and make the run time shorter, if you are also keeping the same quality output. I have yet to find and try this feature.

Skip all the way back to the first X-Carve post from January 4, 2016.
Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 9:51:11 AM
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What a Kick!

I found this idea on-line and thought the kids might like it. It's a Karate phone buddy as I have shown on the phone buddy post. I'm just getting around to making the prototype because the 2nd quarter students are starting to want Christmas projects and I thought they might like some simple phone buddy alternatives that work.

***UPDATE*** 12-1-17 ... I have remade this to include a mortise to attach the kicker to the base. Now there isn't even any glue involved, just a dry fit, tight, snap together project.

This is another alternative phone buddy.

Here is another idea I made into a prototype and is is quickly becoming the new favorite project.

I like keeping many project choices to hold interest, create fun, and provide motivation for any and all students.
Posted: Saturday, November 18, 2017 6:59:01 PM
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Jewelry Box

Sage is in the middle of making her jewelry box. Having mastered making the corner finger joints, she has also found a way to incorporate the X-Carve.

We have since routed the top edges, and started the base. I will update this post with more photos as she moves towards the finish.

RATS! I forgot to photograph the blue velvet lining. Way too busy around here I guess!
Posted: Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:19:49 PM
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A New Take on the Old Penny Bank

One of our 8th graders has really gone out on a limb preparing this Gear Penny Bank and he doesn't even know if it is going to work. The gears were cut on the X-Carve. The slot delivers the coin right to the center of the upper gear. He is expecting the pennies to drop onto the paddles which as it is turned, will deliver the coin down to the next level and so forth... as long as they don't get caught in the gears.

It was somewhat of a trick to get the turning crank made as someone walked away with the first one. I have to say that's a first... having someone take something off the project shelf like that. Perhaps they just weren't thinking when they took it since it was separate of the shaft at the time. Here is a remake...

The "hand-shaped" handle spins freely on the screw and works well.

Below is a close up of the gears. The drive gear is the small one on the bottom right. Washers help reduce friction and a simple straight sewing pin is pushed through the shafts to keep the gears in place.

Jose has also provided a few spacers and ramps with the hope they will coax the coin to go the right direction downward and stay out of the gears. It's going to be very cool, even if it ends up not working.

I'll keep you posted.

***UPDATE*** 12-1-17 Here is the final product and it works! Sorry about the glare. It's too bad I didn't see that until I enlarged the photo.

Now everyone wants one!

Look back at his 7th grade projects.

Seahorse & Monkey
Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:06:32 AM
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Wood ball Stirring Drum

I'm always on the look out for something really different for my students to make and one of the 8th graders simply wanted to make a slot drum.

After getting it down from the shelf, she wanted to know if there was something she could do to cut the slots in a more creative way. I told her you can find almost any slot configuration idea on Google. She went to start a search and ended up showing me this...

Click to see video of this instrument.

Here is another example video with a very different tone.

Wow.... now that is different! Call me sheltered if you want, I have never seen anything like this before. I hadn't come across the videos until after I started this post.

Here is what she came up with and it sounds terrific.

And while I was attempting to get a 2nd photo for just in case, in pops Maddie... to help celebrate the moment.

Good job, but now I will have to get to work to make one for our project choice shelf display.

I think I'm going to try making shorter thinner tongue pieces like the video to see how that sounds. That will also use less materials.

It's a good thing I still use screws for assembly. Now we can remove and replace different tongues, or even make adjustable tongues. Once I have the sound the way I like, future instruments can be glued to further reduce the cost.

Thanks for helping me develop a new project idea Sammy!
Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:20:14 AM
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Enhance projects with the X-Carve

From trash to treasure!

It has been a while, but I finally finished the prototype. Here is an old favorite with a simple new twist... the heart box. Students have loved this project even before we had an X-Carve. Now it is even more fun for them to make.

This is a simple project using scrap materials the cabinet shop would normally throw away. What better way to say I Love You than to recycle garbage and give it to others.

This open heart will be a wonderful Christmas or Valentines gift. Who wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of this recycled gem.
Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:09:20 AM
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A little broken heart!

I suppose I should put a little time between posts on this site, but time doesn't seem to be my friend lately and I have to fit things in when I can and when I am able. So this next idea is totally from the mind of 4th graders and really goes well with the last post.

After seeing my heart box prototype, a couple of my 4th graders who think I can literally make anything, decided they wanted a heart puzzle, so I sent them to look for ideas on Google. When they found a really great simple puzzle, I helped them trace it and they cut this...

What I liked most about their research was that they did it on their own and came back to me with the perfect and easy to make example. I know that I should have done this the other way around by making a template first, but I was so caught up in the moment that I instead drew out their example and then later made the template by tracing their completed project. After tracing and cutting out a template, I made the prototype you see above. Now everyone can get in on the fun.

One of the 7th graders just loved this idea so much that she just had to make one for her father. I thought it would be great to add some words like... "When I have a broken heart, help me to put it back together"... or maybe "I love you to pieces".

When I checked in on her a few minutes later I read something that literally broke my heart. Mind you these may not be the exact words, but she said something to this effect... You broke my heart. Help me put the pieces back together.

It breaks my heart to think of her broken heart, and that she and dad will be doing a little crying on Christmas. Let's hope they can put some of the pieces back together.

Divorce is always hardest on the children.
Posted: Saturday, December 23, 2017 8:38:37 AM
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A star is born!

Here is another 4th grader designed project. This time it was made into a template first, then made into a prototype and then a project.

Oh... and it is harder to put back together than one might think. I put cheater numbers on the back of the template so it is easy to set up for tracing. Several older students didn't know they were numbered on the back and they couldn't get it back together. Funny!

Since the template and prototype took up most of the time, the first puzzles were started on the last class of the last day before break and only one other star puzzle (that I know of) has been completed by the designer. That makes two separate designs in a week. She is so proud!
Posted: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 8:33:14 PM
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Merry belated Christmas

I know... but better late than never... right?

I was hoping to make this post before Christmas, but didn't have access to the photo. This 7th grader has done a tremendous job with her first lathe experience and made her woodworking grandpa very happy. I know, because I am also a woodworking grandpa and I would love for my grand kids to have a woodworking class like this, but so far... it hasn't happened.

That's right, none of my grandchildren "so far" have had access to a school woodworking program like we have at Franklin Phonetic School. In fact, they live over 12 hours away in two different directions, so even seeing them is getting to be a real problem. Thanks to Skype for little family reunions once and a while... but I digress. The topic here is not who has access to woodworking programs, but who takes advantage of them when they can have access.

So let me start again by saying... This 7th grader has done a tremendous job with her first lathe experience!

Following some examples that one Prescott Area Woodturner left in my room, and going above and beyond to capture the best look for these five ornaments which the family will forever cherish, Ashley knocked this one out of the park.

With results like this, it really is hard to believe this is her first woodworking experience. I often hear stories from the girls in class about how they go home and ask dad or grandpa if they can use their woodworking equipment and how surprised their dad's and grandpa's are by what they now know and what they now can do and how they know safety and they can be safe while using the scroll saw, lathe, band saw, etc... out in grandpa's garage.

$20,000 WHAT?

Oh, and by the way, not to take any focus away from this young ladies beautiful work, but it's a Christmas miracle... and we did it...! A check for $20,000.00 arrived at our school yesterday. That's right, $20,000.00! The phone call came from the office during 3rd hour class. Stunning news!

We got the grannnnnnt! And there is enough to get the whole shop exhaust system with cool "top of the line" ducting and hopefully with enough left over for a SawStop. I believe they were focusing in on safety. There isn't enough to get the laser engraver, but maybe that will happen next year. I can always dream.... can't I?

As usual... I will keep you posted on the progress of this new adventure. To begin, my contact with Oneida has been a most pleasurable experience. They waved the design fee and the first quote has already gone down because the expected rise in prices didn't materialize in the year since I first made contact. This saves us about a thousand dollars which can now go to other upgrades, such as some modular hose flex tubing that stays where you put it and it has an anti-static line as well.

Then I found this...

I swiped this photo is from Peachtree Woodworking. It's modular snapped together links that make flexible hoses for anywhere there might be dust and debris like at the drill press or the scroll saw. It looks to be the same anti-static material. The whole thing you see is $39.99 and extra snap links, or different ends can all be purchased separately if you scroll down their page. This may very well be a better deal, especially if you buy only what you need and manufacture your own mounting bracket. $16.99 for the mount seems excessive and it is so easy to make one yourself, so if like me, you are trying to stay within a budget and have to buy a dozen, you can save over $200.00 just by making your own mounts. Here is the mount I made for home.

I decided there are a few questions that the photo doesn't answer, so I'm e-mailing this to .

Here is a copy of that request...


I recently received a grant to purchase dust control equipment and I am very interested in what I am seeing in your photo...

My question is... at the back where the hose connects, there appears to be a 90 degree bend... yet in the separate parts, this is not shown?

Is there a 90 degree fitting that comes with this product?

(Side note... It's hard to tell from Peachtree's small low resolution photo, but it looks as if the hose may actually be making that 90 degree bend. Dust control 101... Avoid vacuum hose as much as possible and have smooth gradual curves as much as possible. Now it could just be the angle when taking the photo, but the 90 degree bend that looks as short as theirs is probably too extreme for proper dust control and vacuum hose is not smooth on the inside, so it should be limited on how long it is, not be used for tight bends, and it should also be supported to keep the path as wide open as possible.)

It also looks as if the flexible hose doesn't bend far enough to pick up the dust right at the drill bit.

What is the bending radius for this flexible hose?

Would I need another link of two on each machine to allow a tighter bend?

I am so interested in what you have to say and I might just purchase one for my home shop first to try it before getting a dozen or more for the school. I'm also posting the information to the woodworking teachers website and so far I'm endorsing your product.

I will happily report back your answers to my readers... and then after getting the product, will write a product review there as well. Your answer is greatly appreciated as this money is burning a hole in my pocket and this appears to be one answer to part of my problem.

Happy woodworking!

T Bockman
Wood shop teacher
Franklin Phonetic School

Two e-mails edited together

To: woodshopteacher
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 12:01:51 PM
Subject: Re: Drill press dust control question...


Sorry for the confusion. There is not a 90 deg fitting at the back of this item nor is there a hose that bends that sharp. When we took the photo the web master cleaned it up a bit to make it look smooth. We do not have any of the bending radius on any of the hose we sell. I can tell you the snap together hose does not bend that tight. A standard flex hose from a shop vac will work well with this item.

Customer Service
Peachtree Woodworking Supply Inc.
6684 Jimmy Carter Blvd.
Suite 100
Norcross, GA 30071

OK... that means the stiff mount that goes on the drill press is not really the best way for it to be mounted, but if the mount were made to swivel, and you add a couple more links, I'm betting I could make the hose reach the spot. That means buying some here and there possibly mixing the two to get the best prices for bulk or cheaper by the dozen.

It is going to get exciting around here!

Now... where to store the boxes as they arrive, in an organized way... to allow smoothly following the plan during installation.

***UPDATE*** 2-3-18 The ducting arrived last week in two giant boxes with pallets. When they were opened, the product was very neatly organized, but how and where to store it? A small area was found that keeps it completely safe and out of the way. The 6th period class was more than willing to help move it. Unloading the boxes and moving the product, please don't dent or ding them up.... everyone so helpful and it's all secure and waiting for the other shipment of the vacuum assembly and other misc things. It may not be quite as organized, but it is still beautiful.

***UPDATE*** 2-15-18 It was a crazy time when 10 minutes before our last class was to end the Fed-X truck pulls up with our delivery. Of course our maintenance guy who would normally take care of this, is gone today. Parents are already lined up outside and kids have to get to dismissal soon but have to stop working in an instant, not clean up, but instead follow me to the Fed-X truck where we direct him to go to another gate away from the crowds. What's this? Of course this is the day the cable company is here putting in fiber optics and their truck is closely crowding Fed-X. Meanwhile I head the kids back to the shop to put away projects, grab their belongings and head to dismissal... shop still a mess.

The driver is expertly avoiding everything in his path while backing up to the gate. There is no lift gate, so the load has to be taken apart and brought out one item at a time. Then my personal alarm rings, so I head quickly back to the room for my meds and let others know we are going to need assistance. Here come all the male teachers to the rescue leaving dismissal to all the female teachers.

What a madhouse! Too bad I completely forget to get a photo of all this going on. We are suppose to closely inspect the load for damage before signing off the driver. Something looks as if it had been slightly crushed, let's open that up... oh. Nothing but the clear hoses, no harm here. Another box has a couple of scratch marks, lets open that one... no damage here.

The 50 gallon waste drum is unloaded next. It is filled with stuff, so we take everything out. What is this, a small ding on the drum, and one slightly flattened spot on the bottom rim... no real worries here. All the boxes and hoses inside the drum also appear unfazed.

Next comes the actual vacuum impeller, a huge white cylindrical shape with a few protrusions. It's bigger than I thought it would be. Being a high efficiency vacuum for higher altitudes is what probably makes it different from other impellers I've seen.

The male teachers all dub this item the nuclear reactor. It looks fine when the cardboard cover is removed. It is screwed down to a crate and regular Philips-head won't work. I rush back to the shop where the Principal is watching our after school wood shop class of mostly 4th graders, and retrieve the needed bit.

OK, sign off with inspection privileges just in case we come across something missed in the mad dash to get this stored for the long weekend.

The nuclear reactor (it does resemble a reactor) is too big and has to temporarily be stored in the art room while everything else fits in where the duct work is stashed. We quickly put a cushion of the plastic wrapping around the reactor for protection and lift one edge carefully placing it on a dolly. Is it too wide...? Back to the shop for a measuring tape. It will fit through any 36" opening/door around here. We manage to get it across campus to the art room. Whew... it makes me relive it as I tell the story.

I get back to the wood shop just before clean up and the Principal is totally amazed at what these 4th graders can do while she has been there. I take the class back and those wonderful kids cleaned up the entire shop that was left in such a terrible state before they got there. Now that's something to write about!

The impeller is going to be the most difficult part of the build since it will go into a tight closet space and have to be hoisted up with the rest of the system built below with ducting going above. A large screw eye and a good strong pulley will probably be our best bet. I'll keep you posted.


Posted: Sunday, January 28, 2018 9:49:47 AM
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Another grant opportunity...?

I'm still waiting for our dust control order to clear (no pun intended) and be shipped when another grant opportunity presented itself this week and although I am very busy with two extra classes, I found time yesterday (Saturday) to start a wish list. Unfortunately it doesn't include a laser engraver.

The grant is for $10K and I would like nothing better than to spend it all on a laser engraver, but it makes more sense to upgrade a lot of shop equipment that will go with the new vacuum system we will soon have installed.

For that wish list I'm looking at quality stuff that won't easily break down and will last for years. A new band saw (Laguna 14/12 which was suggested by the Prescott Area Woodturners, or Powermatic PWBS-14CS) to replace two worn out donated Craftsman band saws.

Five new scroll saws (prefer Jet 727200B but willing to accept Excaliber or even DeWalt 788... to replace the old Ryobi saws obtained through auction (Good saws by the way, but starting to show their age unlike the photo I found for the above link). And I just now (this minute) discovered that for another $50 bucks, the Scrollnado can be purchased that will fit any one of these saws, so we will finally have a better way to keep down the dust but filter out the debris.

A new belt-disc sander (Powermatic 31A or Jet 70859KK JSG-6DCK) to replace a donated belt sander on a floor stand, and a helix head planer (Powermatic 1791291 15HH or even the Grizzly helix) (used in our local cabinet shop) which would replace the donated 12" Craftsman we have now.

I know I will have to tweak this list in order to get all of this onto a single grant, but any one of these things will be a far cry better than what we have now. I also know that I will have a little work to do making adapter plates for some of the machines to fit existing floor stands.

I'm excited if I can get this grant, yet a little sad to know that after getting this all set up, I'm getting older and my body isn't keeping up with what I want or need it to do, so my time here will be shorter than I would like it to be. I'm hoping for a few more years, but it is getting harder and harder to stand all day long. I also am losing my ability to fight those few kids that need it while continuing to help all the others that love it. You all know what I mean.

Still, I'm willing to put forth the effort for this school and know full well that after I make that final decision, I may be back working (or simply volunteering) part time. The funny thing is... my home shop used to be far superior to the school shop, and that is quickly reversing itself... and that means I've done good in the world today, especially if we get this grant.

Just one additional grant and I might be able to replace a set of quickly wearing out mini lathes and maybe... just maybe... a laser engraver. Can my luck hold out long enough? Stay tuned because as always, I'll keep you posted.

***UPDATE*** 3-10-18 Its spring break and I have about a month to get the grant ready to turn in. After some back and forth with a few people, it's time to price match to see if local or at least near by businesses can match prices with the Internet companies, so I sent this letter out to several places in Phoenix.

I am the wood shop teacher at Franklin Phonetic School in Prescott Valley, AZ. I have spent several years building a wood shop program here and we have relied completely on donations. You can see more about it here...

We recently received a 20K grant for an Oneida exhaust system and also a SawStop. The dust collector has arrived and is being installed this week. We haven't yet purchased the SawStop. We are waiting to see what remains which will tell us what features we can add to a 3 hp SawStop.

There is also a second grant in the works for another 10K and I'm wondering if you might be able to work out a package deal that could get better prices for what additional items we are trying to obtain?

The Safety Upgrades Grant Application for Franklin Phonetic School will include these items...

5 Scroll saws Scrollnado dust control (from Amazon $49.95 x 5 = 249.75).
Jet 727200B (Amazon $849 x 5 = $4245 add $249.75 = $4494.75)

1 Band saw (Laguna 14/BX $1399 basic machine, $150 light kit, $175 mobility kit, $209.94 six additional blades, $1933.94 total)

1 Beltdisc sander Jet 70859KK JSG-6DCK (Amazon seller about $1200 plus shipping?)

1 Planer JET 230-Volt JWP-15HH Helical head planer (Local Home Depot $2799 plus shipping?)

We will be adding the SawStop after the dust collection is completed.

I believe our maintenance has a trailer and will be able to transport everything to the school.

Can you set up a package deal?

Franklin Phonetic School
Wood Shop
Posted: Friday, February 16, 2018 9:35:40 AM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Look what I can do...

What a great picture and what a great project! In fact, it is one of my all time favorite projects and made entirely from salvaged dumpster materials from behind the cabinet shop.

Photos by mom
Sporting MDF tiles with a routed bevel

MDF tiles with a routed bevel... half of which are stained dark, a redwood frame trims around the edges. Cherry sides go around the drawer underneath... with a salvaged mahogany veneer table top cut to size and trimmed with redwood... completes the bottom section.

The drawers are made from salvaged cabinetshop miscuts.
The knob was turned on the lathe.

Even though Champ exhibits extraordinary patience, he wasted no time in showing off his creation outside at dismissal. I remind him that I didn't get any photos of it, can they send some to me. When he leaves campus, I understand he goes a couple of blocks, has mom pull over and takes a few photos on the back seat of the truck.

His ambitious plan is
to use the remaining 12 weeks of
school to make all the chess
pieces on the lathe.

After getting home, the photos above prove my case that this young man deserves all the accolades he gets for a job well done... like others you've seen on this thread... and is also evidence that the generation gap can sometimes be made smaller.

***UPDATE*** 2-23-18 Hey Champ... the cabinet shop didn't have any maple for you, but then I saw the newly cut maple counter top and asked for the large scrap. Yes, they did give it to me and it is in the back of my truck waiting for you to cut up for the lathe.

***UPDATE*** 3-4-18 I can't help myself and want everyone to know that Champs dad bought him a lathe and lathe tools. It has rekindles his interest in building up a home workshop now that his son has shown a talent for it.

Posted: Saturday, February 24, 2018 12:03:55 PM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Wood shop magic


How much skill does a skilled wood shop student have.... to turn a wand as nice as this?


A whole lot of skills on the wood lathe!

Being in wood shop only one day a week, makes it difficult to get projects done quickly. I have been dying to take this photo ever since Alexis started turning this wand. She is very meticulous in her efforts to make a fine product. And I'm telling you, she did not have one ounce of help from me.... well, maybe a little in getting it set up, but none at all in shaping or sanding for the final smooth finish. You can easily tell what kind of a worker she is just by watching the progress. I think it is ready.

Time to cut away the ends and finish them to match. A job well done... thank you very much!


Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 2:43:43 PM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
I often get contacted for various help in getting out a message... AND this one seems very interesting as it relates to all of us...


I am seeking ways to connect with woodshop teachers to help them get their students into college and careers working with wood. I found your email address on the website.

I work at Virginia Tech in the wood science program, and am looking for ways to connect with woodshop teachers to help make them aware of the program we offer here at Virginia Tech in wood science. We are the top ranked natural resources college in the US, and we have a robust program in Sustainable Biomaterials, which is the “rebranded” Wood Science and Forest Products program (renamed to appeal more to millennials interested in sustainability). But at its heart, it is a wood science program with a very long history.

I am reaching out because often, students who are passionate about woodworking and good at math/science find our program very fulfilling, as it can lead to high paying careers. As such, I am always looking for more ways to connect with educators to help make more students aware of our program. Would there be an appropriate venue for me to try and connect with educators within your networks?

Thank you for any assistance you can give!

John Gray Williams
Director of Recruitment
Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment (0324)
138-D Cheatham Hall
310 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, Va. 24061
Posted: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 7:48:51 AM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Before and after...

3-7-18 We just pasted 250,000 hits

This giant chess piece was turned by a 7th grader last year. I never had the camera ready before it went home, but I was promised that a photo would be sent. The photo never arrived, but luckily the rook returned so it could get finished this year. Her first thought was to paint it half white, half black. Here is a before picture...

And here is the after picture...

We tried to apply the finish inside the shop one cold morning and within two minutes the lacquer smelled up the entire shop. Instead we had to go outside to complete the job and the shop windows and doors were opened so the fumes could escape. Needless to say, the early mornings never warmed up this quarter, so the project sat on the shelf gathering dust as you can see. One coat will have to be enough. It goes home today. Spring break!

So many students have been upset that I wouldn't let them apply finish inside a closed shop on cold days and now we have a great story to tell about why it shouldn't be done. Oh, and we all survived to tell the tale.

This young lady made other projects too, one of which has already been featured. This quarter she made this beautiful cherry box with finger joint corners, satin lining and featuring her own artwork on the front.

The small drawer also has the satin.

It also has an X-Carved top...

It will absolutely melt Mom's heart the receive this mother's day gift... that is if Reb can get through the excitement and manage to save it that long.

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 11:46:10 PM
Rank: Newbie
Groups: Member

Joined: 11/17/2006
Posts: 0
Spring break fun....

In order to save shop space, and to keep the unit out of the weather, we converted a large double closet into a dust control room where our new exhaust system will be located. It's a bit of a tight space being a little over three feet deep, but it's also perfect in that the access doors from the shop already have vents to allow the filtered (warm in winter) air to flow back into the shop which of course saves energy.

For easy access to the dust barrel, I cut a door opening (photo below) to the outside, and turned the siding into an insulated door. This is the only place in the shop with regular siding. Everywhere else is stucco.

This may have been an extreme measure to simply want a little more convenience but also for not wanting any of the dust tracked through the shop again. Our maintenance man wanted to make it a half door and my take on that... what is convenient about a half door with my height... 6'-5 1/2"?

The main point here is that now the dust bag doesn't have to be taken out by a small child half my size... or through the shop... and I don't have to bend down to reach back to the dust barrel which happens to be a couple of feet in. It's not only a short cut to the outside without going through the shop, but also to the dumpster.

Since the lines of the siding match up perfectly, the (keyed alike) door disappears into the surroundings when it's closed, but allows amazing access to the dust collector space. You can tell right away that if the lock and hinges were painted, the door would go unnoticed by someone passing by.

The blower unit has been loaded onto a cart and transferred into the shop. The filter (square opening) has to be moved into the correct position. This proves to be tricky since you can't easily get to the bolts. By removing the four bolts the factory put in for shipping, we got the motor section removed from the filter section and were able to put on the seal and correct the orientation of the filter port.

Later... I found this proves to be
easier when it's laying on its side as
I went back around adding washers and
tightening up each bolt in a star pattern.

I also lightly sand smooth a few (not many) small rough spots on the inside finish. The smoother the flow, the better. A few more preparations and we will be ready to start assembling the rest of the vacuum.

Since the unit is extremely heavy and needs to be lifted by a cable and come-along... to almost ceiling height, a pulley system had to be constructed in the upper part of the space. Our first try was simply drilling and inserting a screw eye into the ceiling rafter... but being engineered wood, it didn't hold long before we could hear it starting to give way.

Luckily it was close to the floor and easy to back down before anything happened. The stains and saggy plywood show me that there was a leak before the roof was replaced last year. This could also have been part of the issue. Anyway, we built a 2" X 4" crane like structure for our pulley system.

That first lift attempt also taught us that the chain configuration wouldn't work for it to actually be able to climb the more than 9 feet to the ceiling, but also be high enough to be placed on the stand. The chains were too long.

It's also a little unnerving to work around and under a dangling load like this. The come-along had to be attached to a floor joist. The closet is a step higher than the shop and has a wooden floor.

Who knew at the time that the side access door would be exactly what is needed later to bring the dust collector into the space. And who knew that we would actually make the opening wide enough for this operation. It certainly was not planned this way. By laying on its side, the chain can be shortened and placed only on one side.

At this point I am working alone as maintenance isn't here this cold and a slightly on-again-off-again rainy morning. Good thing the buildings are close together. The overhangs keep the little rain that does fall from getting things wet where I'm trying to work. It's funny how all winter has been so mild during the day, then the run up to, and during spring break... the weather turns cold with more of that winter feel.

Hopefully this idea will work. Hopefully it will give this unit the proper lift to make it to the top. The second attempt proves to work with the exception that the motor is heavier than the rest of the unit, so back down it goes and temporary 2nd chains go around the motor to the other lift points to help balance the load.

The third attempt works perfectly but for this new plan to work, the whole vacuum needs to be assembled while its on its side starting at floor level. Each section gets sealed before bolting them together.

Applying the weather stripping seal to the bottom cone.

Once the bottom funnel (which completes the dust separator on the cyclone dust collection system) is added, I notice that the load becomes easier to control. That's good news as I have to keep this load going in the proper direction so the exhaust system is oriented in the correct direction for both the ducting and the filter. I'm pretty sure now that I can pull this off before noon.

No one wants to work under a load that is being lifted, especially when you are working alone. Trying to build the stand under a dangling load is definitely not an option, so before the lift can continue, the stand must now be connected.

In this tight space, I have to use a couple of longer bolts to hold the stand in places where it was not only difficult to reach, but doesn't quite close the gap between the base and the unit. The stand is laying part way out the access door. I find that I have to disassemble one piece of the stand and then reassemble it back in place to get it to go around where it is suppose to be.

Sometimes I'm working in such a tight spot that I have to only use my left hand... you know... putting the bolt through while aligning the holes, holding it there with my index finger while at the same time balancing the nut, and then turning it with my thumb. After dropping it a few times... I finally get it all in place.

All the bolts at this point are left a little loose. Later, the 2nd set of chains must be removed when it seems safe enough and as the extra chains get in the way.

A few clicks to raise it, and a nudge here and there to get it to go all the way in the door... it's a slow tedious process of keeping everything straight and moving in the right direction, while not scratching it up with the cables and the come-along, and listening for ripping, cracking, popping or any other noise that can mean a disaster is eminent.

There is much more clicking of the come-along and nudging it slowly into place while slowly bringing it into a standing position. After the legs go through the door, temporary cleats screwed to the plywood floor keep it from sliding backward.

Is this really going to work I keep asking myself, as this new plan all started as only an idea last night, but it seems to be on track and I keep plugging along slowly, safely, and hopeful. No hurry!

Although it looks like a tight squeeze, it really isn't as it freely goes through the doorway with a little space to spare. Who knew... that cutting right on the siding's vertical lines would give the door the perfect width for the stand to slip right through the newly completed door jamb.

Things could have turned out quite differently if it hadn't fit. It turns out to be a good thing I wanted this access door, and that it fits, because I'm not so sure this would have gone as easily working from the other... shop side.

With the closet barely three feet deep, we probably would have had to build the stand under the dangling unit, which seems a bit more dangerous, especially since the unit would still have required a little more manual lifting as the third tier of the stand wouldn't fit under it.

Now, I like my custom built crane, and it seems to be holding up fine, but would it hold up if we had to manually lift the load higher leaving a slack line to the come-along? What if we lost control of it at that point? The load could drop a few inches and snap downward on the cable. That downward snap could have been a huge disaster hurting people and property. It's nothing to play around with, that's for sure.

We're getting closer and closer to being in the right place. The length of the closet and the access door proves an advantage as the unit is slowly coming to its tipping point.

Just a little ways to go, now that we've reached the tipping point. We stop here and take down the cable, remove the chains and as soon as the ladder is out of the way, it gets tipped into position. A little nudge here and there to straighten the orientation of the two ports.

There... it's all in place and it's not quite noon. Still to go, the stand bolts were mostly loose and only there to drag the stand along for the ride while also keeping it in its correct position. I had to go back and check each bolt around the stand, replace the longer ones, and tightened everything in a star pattern. Then I installed the dust barrel.

Thank goodness that worked because I could see it going in a whole different direction as I was slowly working, trying to stay safe and wondering if it would work, even towards the end stage when it seemed to be perfect.

How strange that so many unforeseen things (access door, door width, etc...) were put into place even before the plan changed. You know... the motor assembly would not have fit through that access door. That is why this was suppose to be a straight lift, insert the stand, done... but when that proved to not be working, it all changed that evening when I got to thinking about putting it on it's side.

Next comes the duct work and electrical. That should be exciting. I can't wait! Maintenance will be working Sunday to make up for lost time, and I will go help as much as I can. Hopefully we can get a really good start on getting the duct work through the closet wall and branched out into the shop in all directions... just like Oneida planned it.

As usual, I'll keep you posted.

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 recently 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

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 NOSPAM september_fleming. I've purposely mixed it up, so put the name first and make an e-mail address out of it without using the NOSPAM. I have noticed that this is helping new members get into the site while keeping the spammers out.

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

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