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Profile: tbockman
User Name: tbockman
Forum Rank: Newbie
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Joined: Friday, November 17, 2006
Last Visit: Monday, August 21, 2017 8:30:49 AM
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Last 10 Posts
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 9:29:34 AM
The folding book stand

Made in a shop class when one of the dads was in school, the 7th grade son... Scott... brought it from home and is getting ready to replicate this folding book stand using a single door off an old water bed pedestal. I had a water bed frame and pedestal given to us and we used the upper frame part for making the skate form.

I know this is an oldie but it's also one I've never seen before. It holds only a few books, but it could be just the right size for most kids, and it folds down to be flat for storage.

I thought it would be a good idea to make this template so other students could also replicate this project. Now I have to figure out where the solid pine will come from once the water bed doors are gone.

I'll keep you posted on how this pans out as Scott figures out the dowel hinge system. Each long edge has 3/4" trimmed from it which later gets added back. This will be where the dowel hinge is located. The template you see already has the long edges removed.

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 will begin uploading this material to photobucket and remake the links.

Here are some general page short cuts for you...

Go to page 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5... 6 ... 7

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 nine new members have signed up since making this notice.

Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2017 7:07:46 PM
Done... with making the new photo links that is!

Just in time to start back tomorrow. It's hard to believe we are already getting ready to begin another year. Students come back to school in a week.

As for the photos.... I did my best to get every one of them. All have been filtered through Pinterest which by the way, isn't as difficult as it might seem. Especially if you upload your photos to Pinterest in the first place. This means you can skip all the photo sharing sites altogether.

To get your Pinterest photos to show on this site, find the photo in Pinterest, right click on it and choose "view image"... then copy the web address. When posting on this site, paste that web address into your post... then highlight it... then choose and click on the icon that looks like a photo (has the mountains and sun) and this site will add the proper HTML code that lets you view the image when you complete the post. I go one step further and choose center so it comes out in the middle.

The biggest loss with using Pinterest will be the ability to clip photos and make transparent back grounds. Those really did look cool. If I ever get ambitious and find I just can't live without transparent back grounds, I'll search for an alternative to photobucket and remake just those links.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:33:03 PM
Be patient...

Without warning, Photobucket changed their policy and now requires you to pay to have 3rd party links! This Photobucket error message suddenly appeared shutting down all the photo links, so I'm in the process of a "work around" remaking the links to as many photos as I can retrieve from Pinterest.

My hope is to complete this task in a few weeks before school starts. There will be some loss as not every photo was posted to Pinterest, AND... photos from Pinterest do not have the attributes that allows for transparent backgrounds, so some photos will now be in a white frame.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 9:24:01 AM

I received an interesting e-mail May 25th that I would like to share with you...


I found your email address on the website. I applied to be allowed to register on the forum but was told since I am not a woodworking teacher that I am not allowed to post questions.

I'm reaching out to you in hopes that you could direct me to some shop class curriculum and perhaps sample lesson plans.

I have 3 boys (age 13 and under) and as I see shop class disappearing from schools nationwide the past few decades I figured I would find some curriculum online to teach my boys. I'm reasonably handy at DIY and can teach them about tools and simple construction techniques but I was hoping there would be a lot of useful information online.

Unfortunately I have not found a single shop class book or manual written after the 1960s. There are a few good documents available (from 4-H) and I have seen a few youtube channels but not much more than that.

So I've started a website devoted to sharing information that is or should be taught in shop class for the younger generation. This would include middle and high schoolers, as well as many millennial's who are now adults and don't have the basic skills many of us were taught in the past. The website is There is not much content yet but I've received excellent feedback so far so I'm hoping you can help me.

Do you have any lesson plans or resources you could point me to so I can provide some ideas, tips, safety practices and anything else for people to utilize? While I am not a paid wood shop teacher, we do home school our boys so I am a teacher in that regard but since I'm not allowed to post I am just trying to find someone that is able to show me some resources.

Thanks for your time.

Joshua Lawson
Shop Class Kids

Now I'm not getting any younger! I decided I had better try to share what I can in a format that can help as many people as I can possibly help, before it gets completely lost as my final retirement gets closer and closer. While I have signed another contract for the coming school year, I can tell there aren't too many years left in me and in a year or two I'll be surprised if I'm still at it.

I have made contact with Joshua and find him most pleasant to work with. I told him about the curriculum project we started back when many of us old timers were still posting on this site. It was something I had a passion to create and everyone who pitched in to share made a huge difference in how it came out. I believe that all participants in that project benefited greatly and the material was cutting edge for it's day.

After seeing a few things Joshua has been able to do with converting PowerPoint to youtube, I shared a few documents over Google docs. I'm not completely satisfied with how Google docs filtered and seem to change the appearance as it got to the other end, so I made sure to send everything on a Flash drive. That should be arriving any day now and I look forward to hearing from Joshua again soon and to hear what he is able to do with it into the future.

I think that whatever we can share with Joshua will take our (curriculum group) goals one step higher. I remember proposing something similar to and not getting enough participants to share in the article writing for it to get beyond mere suggestions, but then Joe Novack and I worked on which has since disappeared when Joe retired. He was a driving force behind getting it to the Internet!

I think that from the homeschool parents perspective, to be able to continue access to this curriculum is going many leaps beyond what I ever imagined we would be able to do. To have it open source for anyone takes it well past what I ever could or would have done on my own. For that, I thank

In the meantime since Joshua can't post for himself on this site, I would take it upon myself to not only lend a helping hand, but also asked him to write up something that I could share with you. I am happy to turn over all my teaching information to a younger generation and hope that Joshua will eventually do the same... that is to pass it down to another generation, while adding new information and technology. His written description doesn't look a whole lot different than what he originally sent me, but here it is...

My name is Joshua Lawson and I run the website This is a place for kids (young and old) to learn the basics of working with their hands.

My wife and I homeschool our boys and while I can teach them about various tools and basic things like how to change a tire I do not have the knowledge necessary to teach them solid woodworking skills as well as the fundamentals of welding, automotive, electrical and CNC technologies. There are plenty of videos on YouTube but many of them are geared towards more experienced people. I also realized that shop classes have been disappearing from schools the past few decades. After a lot of searching online and coming up empty I decided to start my own website dedicated to teaching these skills to not only my boys but any children out there who missed out on shop class.

The target audience is not really the middle school and high schoolers but their parents, many of whom don't have the ability to teach things that they themselves missed out on. The site is family friendly and my hope is that the children who do come onto the site will find the information useful and hopefully start building projects that we can feature.

The plan is to not only have curriculum that homeschoolers and self-directed learners can use but also to show simple and eventually more advanced projects that people can build. We also want to ensure that everyone has a basic DIY skillset and general handyman skills. Technology is a wonderful thing and many things can be manufactured out of plastic cheaply but I feel it is still important to be able to have basic repair skills and the ability to create something from a few pieces of wood or metal. There seem to be more and more people each year that lack these basic skills and if they were knowledgable about the things one learns in shop class then maybe there would be more folks interested in doing more than just the basics.

I am seeking help and advice from experts (preferably instructors) in the aforementioned technologies so if there is anything you can share, please contact me. Even if you don't have the time to contribute articles or share lesson plans, maybe your students would like to see pictures of their creations online. I would greatly appreciate any help you can provide.


Joshua Lawson
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Monday, May 22, 2017 8:26:00 AM
Skateboards anyone?

After having nearly 2 1/2 completely unplanned weeks off from school to have a pacemaker put into my chest, I expected to come back to this project and have it ready for a cork lining so we could test glue a veneer set. Everything I was told or that I read about concerning this procedure (the pacemaker not the cork), it should have been easier, like getting an "In and Out burger". You are right... it is a little more serious than that and I found that out by living it. So back to the skateboard project. No, they didn't get much done in my absence and to make things worse, there only a week left of school. Better get crackin.

While we have done many skateboards/long boards, they have all been flat and a little lifeless. It's not that the students don't love making these type of skateboards, its just that they are simple cut out shapes that anyone can do. How about contoured sleek street boards. That takes making your own forming molds and buying Canadian maple veneers. That's what these kids have been up to... making a forming mold for a skateboard as found at

***UPDATE*** 8-10-17 We are in the middle of our first week of school. Although the veneer quality was evident, it turns out that DYI Skate is too expensive for the average kid. Each kit cost a minimum $20 just for shipping and the kit was almost $40. I casually asked one of my 8th period classes... How many of you would be interested in doing a custom skateboard if I can get the total price down to $20? I was a little surprised to see 7 or 8 hands immediately go up. So I started doing a little on-line research and found a much more economical website, especially if I can get a group of 15 to go together at one time. Dub Press Distribution has a package..... that after shipping... only comes to about $18.50 per student. I started a list and if 15 students will sign up, bring in their share of the cost, then the school will make the purchase. This morning I got onto the site to double check the numbers and the estimator for UPS ground total was again $75.92 making the per student cost about $18.40 each. I'll probably ask for an even $20 and then refund the difference after it arrives. Hopefully it doesn't change. I'll keep you posted.

After tracing and cutting each piece of the form, the differences have to be chiseled or cut away to make them somewhat even. Then a good sanding to make them somewhat smooth while removing ripples between pieces.

Once both halves of the form look ready, a layer of 1/8" cork has been applied to further even them and take up any difference between the top half and the bottom half under clamping pressure.

At my other school, we had a nice vacuum press and only needed to make the top half of the form to make our boards. The vacuum press worked better that way. Here we don't have that luxury.

This practice piece is made from 3 layers of 1/8" door skin retrieved from Home Depot scraps. The shape looks good and we are ready to glue up our first board.

Here is our very first skateboard made by this graduating eighth grader. The only thing left is to cut it to shape, something he will have to do at home since school is now out.

I hate to even admit that this skateboard project was the ONLY thing that motivated this student to work in wood shop... but motive it DID!

Oh no... Not another Automata... A preview...

Dan Baker posted this with a video... and I would like to work through the parts and build so our students can make these from scrap. He offered his original drawings.

Dan shared his thoughts about making the Ornithopter with a little slop in everything so it will move correctly, and we also discovered that Inkscape has a nasty way of reducing everything 20%. I had to figure out how to make them the right size. It turns out that that's not a real big issue. I could have left them 20% smaller, but then I'd have to lathe drill the 1/4" center holes to keep the gears running true so I ended up increasing the size of the image in Easel until the center hole was exactly 1/4".

All the other parts had the same issue and I was glad Inkscape let me take one piece at a time so I could adjust everything before trial cuts were made. In this next piece, the left bearing needs 1/4" dowel hole to allow for the rotation. The cam next to it does not.

I won't be able to tell if the barrel gears work until the bearings are mounted. I have to use what we have around the shop, so my dowels are a little larger. When I found these dowels on campus, I wasn't sure I'd ever find something to use them on, so here's hoping they work for these type gears.

Here is the main gear in a test position. It has the smaller one right next to it and will be run by a small gear too. This isn't exactly the way it actually goes together, but is only a test fitting to see if these sizes work and the holes are correct and centered. Everything seems to be working fine so far. The only change made here is that I added bottom tabs for mounting the bearings to a base.

Who knows.... maybe I should remake everything 20% smaller and try lathe drilling the holes. It might make a better product. As it is, I've been squeezing the work in whenever I can and that's not often during testing or when I have to be out for health reasons.

Honestly, I don't know why this school puts up with me. If I'm not trying to persuade them to get me a $7500 laser engraver, or working to squeeze in projects like this, or writing grants for an exhaust system, I'm out for health reasons. I was never absent before and now I'm going over my limit for the year. I think that I'm becoming a real burden. Let's keep hoping they don't really feel that same way.

As always, I'll keep you posted on the progress and these will certainly (eventually) be split off into their own posts. I think next years students might want to build a few once the templates are done.

Wow.... its hard to believe that it has almost been 4 years since the first post on this thread.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2017 11:29:20 AM
Exciting year ending X-Carve projects

Hey John, I'm always glad to help. I have to share all I can before the end.... which as it turns out may be sooner rather than later. Long story with more health upsets as of late. Still.... I'm hoping to keep going into next year and beyond if I can possibly do it. No pacemaker or blood thinner is going to stop me.... hopefully. I should be back to school by May 15. I'll have to wear an arm limiter to keep from lifting my arm and possibly pulling out the wires that are going to my heart. I feel like I'm falling apart lately!

***UPDATE*** 5-29-17 I had the pacemaker in 4 weeks now, made it past the motion sickness sometimes caused from blood thinners, been cleared to drive again, finished out the school year, and have recently been in contact with Joshua Lawson of where I may be working on articles and sharing curriculum.

Now on to the more exciting new stuff....

I was going to go in another X-Carve direction (which I haven't given up on just yet) when this came up. Actually, we've perfected something that is fast becoming popular. I've heard of them.... and I've even seen them, but now X-Carve is helping us create them in class and they have become all the rage around our school. Fidget Spinners!

Sometimes I watch the X-Carve videos and sometimes I don't. In this case I didn't. And yes, it is really that intuitive.

The X-Carve is turning out to be just what I had hoped it could become.... A multi use machine that can even be controlled by a 4th grader. It's fun, and it is slowly transforming what we can do in the shop.

This success story begins with a 6" square of 1/4" scrap MDF from the cabinet shop dumpster that is being fashioned into two fidget spinners blanks.

A sixth grader used a sharpie to make his spinner look like the store bought variety we've seen around school. Add a few nifty used skate bearings (which get pressed into place) and you have an absolutely free and good looking spinner. Red skate bearings were also a nice touch Champ. Only $5 on Amazon... or so I've heard from Micheal.

The action toy that is sweeping our school (and maybe yours too) is keeping kids interested in the waning days... after all the weeks of mind numbing standardized tests and not many weeks left of school... here anyway! I haven't heard anything negative from the other teachers, so the kids must not be distracting everyone during classes.

As for the two boys who got this all started, theirs didn't work out too well. Their design called for thinner walls that wouldn't hold up to installing the bearings. Not to worry though, because they have taken on a whole different project now.
Topic: Robotics anyone?
Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 2:35:27 PM
I agree with what Eric is saying. I believe my students are learning some of the same skills using a laser engraver or another CNC as a student who is doing robotics.

Let's face it, technology is changing the way we do everything! Some people forget that the simplest machines are also technology. At one point in time, it was revolutionary technology to have a sharpened rock.
Topic: Laser Cutter/Engraver Input
Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017 11:38:51 AM
About 8 or 9 years ago I purchased a U.S. built 30 watt Epilog laser and a year or two later, a 60 watt laser and I couldn't have been happier with their product. It was so easy to use and trouble free. The laser tube was rated to run 24/7 for 5 years. Try finding that in a lesser expensive laser.

If you get something cheaper, look closely at the laser tube life expectancy. You can easily be duped by what seems like a good deal, only to have an expensive headache waiting a few months down the line. On one of the examples you site, the life expectancy of the laser tube looked to be approximately 1 or 2 school year/s if it is broken down into a 4 hour use per day. A replacement tube can easily run up to $2000.

The Epilog is easy... the auto focus was fantastic, but manual focus was also easy. It was fairly easy to keep clean although the company didn't tell me there was an optical strip that frequently needed to also be cleaned, so when the images started to distort, a little trouble shooting and a simple cover removal quickly solved the issue.

The other draw back was the ability to get inside and clean the back mirror every once and a while since dust could coat that mirror and reduce the laser power. However, I solved that by removing the overall machine cover and cutting a small access hole to allow a Q-tip through to reach and clean the mirror.

The students absolutely went laser crazy and I was sad to have left that behind at my last job.

You can see some of my experience and more videos here.

Now I'm looking for a low priced laser for use at Franklin Phonetic School. Just like our X-Carve experience, I need something as cheap as possible but also durable, easy to use, safe and as long a tube life as possible. That is a tall order and I think I had better look into writing a grant so I can get an Epilog Zing. I did read that the Epilog quality has suffered a little lately though.

After reading this post, I did a quick search and came up with these other options for you to also check out...

Trotec laser

Universal laser

Gravograph laser

Fabool laser which appears to be a $2600 40 watt build it yourself kit like X-Carve. It also says it should not be run for more than 1 hour at a time to prevent overheating.

You can also look into a used Epilog on E-Bay.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Sunday, March 26, 2017 11:46:02 AM
I got this e-mail the other day...

I thought you might like to see how I responded to this...

Subject: Woodworking Teachers site / login

I am a former teacher who now sells machinery to schools and cabinet shops and I would like to share on your site that we are giving a discount to schools on Ritter machines. Can I get a log in for the site?

Sam Nichols
Sales & Marketing Manager
Ritter Machinery Co. -
Evans Machinery Co. -
11441 East Lakewood Blvd - Holland, MI 49424
Phone: 616-393-0878 - Cell: 616-566-0739 - Fax: 313-202-8336

Follow us on Facebook:

Hi Sam,

I am not the person responsible for running this site. I only post about my experience being an out of work, recently re-employed frugal wood shop teacher without a budget. Everything I do is on a shoestring... dumpster diving, making shop jigs, mocking up prototype projects, getting publicity and/or donations of equipment and tax credits, etc...

Check in with the site host which is Woodcraft. But.... I'm betting they wouldn't give you a login simply because this is a non-profit teacher sharing site. It was closed because of robot spammers I'm sure.

The best I can do is to somehow figure out a way to mention you or your company on my next post. A lot of sales people will offer a discount to teachers, so is there something else that would set you apart.... some kind of appeal or related to being frugal that warrants a casual mention, or even a hard focus in one of my posts? Go back and look through my pages if you would like to pitch an idea. It's not something I normally do, but it's worth trying.... however, I'm not sure (I could be totally wrong about this) that it would provide you with the traffic you would want or expect. Who knows what it might bring. Stranger things have happened.

To be totally honest, this site has seen better days and since the recession, teachers have lost their budgets, and even their entire program or job, or have been forced to retire early. That's what happened to me and then a little Charter school hired me to do a lot with nothing (hardly any monetary backing) and the challenge (which I thrive on) turned out to be a great opportunity.

Too bad hardly anyone else posts these days. I wouldn't even begin to try to explain how quickly it has dropped off this year. 3/4 of the school year has passed and only five posts besides mine. Five posts used to be a daily average. Now it has taken eight months to generate five posts, not taking into account the continuation of my posts... making it six posts total in eight months. It's pathetic that this life (being a shop teacher) is slowly dying. No one will know how to make things in a few more years.

Franklin Phonetic School

His reply...

I understand. Thanks for your response Tom.

We have a large % of the machines in the schools currently and we sell to them regularly so I am just trying to find the best avenues to get people the information. Site traffic isn't really the goal. I just want to make sure people know that our offer exists.

It is my hope that skilled trades education will see a swing back towards where it was in the past and we are seeing that happen here so hopefully it will spread so our country can build and grow as it needs to.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2017 12:39:07 PM
Horsing around, monkey business, meow!

The 7th grader just a panel or two above this one... has been one of the more productive students I've had in a while. That is saying quite a lot about him since most of my students could qualify for that spot, however, in his case... he not only made several great projects including his own version of a neat looking trebuchet, (wish I had taken a picture of it) but he asked me if he could next make a cat. I'm thinking... OK! Odd request.... but let's give it a go.

He and I worked together to make the cat and he also made a template too, but it wasn't the best looking cat (my fault) and although I've since had a few other students also want to make it from the template, it's still not one of my favorite projects. It's spring break now and he will be moving on to a different class, but I think I'm going to go back and try the cat again.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself. He then asked if we could now work on a Seahorse. Wow.... where did that come from? I told him this time he should go look up what they look like and download a line drawing, if he can find one that he would like to duplicate.

When he comes back from the office printer, we break his line drawing down into layers. I'm thinking this should be better than the cat. I also change my strategy and make every single layer, so students will make mirror image pieces without always being told. It's not that I mind telling them, it's just that they sometimes still make everything from the same direction and aren't able to hide the (sometimes) "chipped veneer" from their cuts. Mirror image will hide that on the inside.

Now with the seahorse I never had enough time to make a sample, but already students (mostly 4th graders) have been making them. I could easily see these on some ocean themed Christmas tree, but for any other reason, I'm not sure I have a clue. That's OK because it's all a learning experience for the students and I think it's way cool when they get involved in making something new... and then also help make templates so others might follow. This has happened a few times since I've been here and it's always worked out well all around.

As I'm expressing this during class, one of the students says it would make a great idea for bookends. I will admit, that is a great idea and I probably wouldn't have thought of it on my own. Everyone likes something different and a set of seahorse bookends will sound like a pretty good idea to someone. Bookends also wouldn't require making both sides, unless you make two. Then it would be two mirror image bodies with the tail, two mirror image shoulders and two mirror image legs.

Then he hits me one more time. Can we make a monkey? OK... let's follow the same process. I'm a little busy so I leave it all up to him. He chooses the line drawing, and uses a 3/4" for the body with 1/4" secondary color overlays of another species. Hey, it looks pretty darned good to me, but he's running out of time. Two days until spring break and no time left for making the template.

I told him, that's OK, I'd work on the template when I had time. I break it down into layers and come up with this... and with the same mirror idea in mind too. It makes perfect sense.

I show him the templates which are a little different from his prototype... and he decides that it looks good and he's excited on that final day to make one just like it. He even traces a set for me to cut a class prototype.

Now I'm running out of 1/2" and 3/4" material and it doesn't show up often as cabinet shop scraps. Since 1/4" seems the easiest to get, I've taken to layering 1/4" for a lot of projects.

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