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Profile: tbockman
User Name: tbockman
Forum Rank: Newbie
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Joined: Friday, November 17, 2006
Last Visit: Thursday, September 7, 2023 1:09:11 PM
Number of Posts: 0
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Last 10 Posts
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Wednesday, August 9, 2023 3:43:16 PM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

I'm still here alive and kicking.

I'm starting another school year. While times have been somewhat challenging, I plan to try to keep going a few more years. Right now we are in our 5th day of school and in the middle of our safety unit. It's good to be staying busy and with another birthday only a few days away.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2023 10:14:21 AM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

This "Grateful Dead" bear was made and later given to me by an old friend. I thought it might look good hanging in the wood shop. Many students have wanted to replicate it but I never got around to making templates. This year a 6th grader really wanted to take it on and it's a small class, so I told him we could work on a set of templates and he can make a project from that. When you break it down, it is fairly simple.

Once the template was finished, Chevy cuts his pieces.

We add the pins made from a bamboo skewer.

We drilled the arms & legs and put on the dental floss. The right arm is upside down and has to be switched.

We check it to see if it works.

Chevy still needs to complete the front, add a spacer and assemble. I will keep you posted with updates.

***UPDATE*** 2-27-23, The spacer is glued into place.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2022 9:01:41 AM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

"The Oneida Dust Collector"

For the past few months we have not had our dust collector. It seems that early on ( almost four years ago) something happened to it and it wouldn't stay running, so we changed the switch ourselves. I was getting my information from an electrical engineer (part of the Prescott Area Woodturner's) and he was convinced it was the switch. We were wrong but without knowing that, we proceeded. It seems the Oneida system follows a specific set of rules when it comes to the design, the switch and the motor. For example, the motor should not be run off the system as the surrounding metal structure is part of it's cooling system. At least this is what it says in the literature. That is only one example of the different rules, but thinking the problem was in the switch started us down a different path without realizing that it ultimately might hurt the motor in the long run. This of course is all in hindsight. If we had contacted the company back then, they may have asked us to replace the original switch with another original. Woulda shoulda coulda doesn't get you there, and we didn't even ask. I shouldn't have listened to the wood turners.

Our eventual contact at Oneida has been very patient and walked us through a variety of tests to see if the now four year old motor was salvageable or if it had been slowly cooking itself to death. Obviously now past it's warranty, overheating became our main problem and it seems our maintenance at the time put in a substandard infrastructure that wasn't giving the motor the proper amount of voltage it should have had. This caused the amperage to go up and that made the motor run hot. At least this is my understanding after talking to their engineer. It just seems so weird since it was working fine up until we had the new grant and were able to put in the new machines. That had to have been a whole year.

Anyway, Oneida gave us all we needed to get it corrected and we had the system rewired which still doesn't make sense to me since the original switch came with their wire. (It had to have been the original switch that should have been replaced.) Then came the new motor. I was tasked with taking the system apart once again, but this time also removing the impeller so it could be transferred to the new motor. I had difficulty finding all of the original equipment we had used to proceed. Our little school has had change in maintenance about every year I have been here and each time their shop space it a disorganized mess left by the last guy. That means finding this stuff is quite the trick. This time I hung all the items behind the dust collector so if it is needed in the future, it won't be so hard to gather it up. Being at least the fourth time I've had to do this, you'd think I would have been smarter and thought of this sooner. Ha.

Anyway, with the help of Mr. Rohrbough, it took most of a day to get that motor changed over and another week to get the electrician back to complete getting it hooked up correctly. In the mean time he and I caught some kind of bug that has stuck with me going into my fourth week. His was different and didn't last nearly as long. I'm almost better and school is on winter break, so we went over to clean up the dusty shop so we can start the new semester in a cleaner environment. I actually worked on this all that final week and we both worked on it during the winter dance, but yesterday we got most of it completed. There are a few areas that I can hit the first week back.

I have to thank Mr. Rohrbough for his help, but also Adam at Oneida for helping us do the troubleshooting and getting it all straightened out with a discount on the new motor. I also think the electrician was very friendly and helpful even if it were for profit. A stand up guy that put in the extra time to get it right.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, December 16, 2022 2:54:31 PM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

"Andy's Beautiful Box"

I went to Andy's appliance to see if I could troubleshoot one of the igniters on our gas stove. When I walked in I didn't see Andy, but instead a few other people I didn't recognize. I found out that Andy had passed away earlier in the week. Not many people knew about this. Andy was the father of one of my former students. I had kept up with the family mostly as a customer and if you went into the shop, Andy would tell you great local stories from way back. It usually meant chit chat for a good hour, but it was always good fun and very interesting.

Later, his son's wife recognized me when I returned about the igniter switch, and she said they had been wanting to contact me about making a container for Andy's ashes. She is the one who came up with the title of this post. I was very honored to do this for them. It was custom sized to fit around the cardboard box and was further tailored to the families wishes. My biggest issue was getting really sick during this time that it had to get done. I was so sick I had even taken a few days off from school which is unusual for me.

I struggled getting materials together as I looked through the cabinet shop scraps. This project ended up being mostly solid alder with finger jointed corners whose previous life was a discarded cabinet door. I planned it off to 1/4" thickness and worked on the corners. If you have ever had cut these joints, you know how difficult it can be to fit them together, especially when you aren't feeling 100%. I had to put it aside for a few days before continuing. I soon delivered the box without a finish so they could choose what to put on it. Maybe a clear polyurethane spray so the engraving shows up better. Stain might hide the engraving.

These photos were provided by the family and were taken for their Facebook posts.

The most important part was not just the plainness of the box, but mostly the message the family wanted engraved on to it. The project could have been something fancy, perhaps exotic hardwoods and turned on a lathe, but that wouldn't describe the person or the family. This is a self-made man who started and ran a successful family business. The front of the box is a recreation of his business advertisement with a few adjustments to fit the situation. This is the top. The top was made from an unfinished cutting board one of the students left behind last year.

His son who is continuing the business, was showing me old photos of Andy and came across this one which he sent to me with the back ground already removed. He suggested that the sample engraving we worked on would also look good as a memorial in their showroom. What happened next was something I didn't expect.

When I turned the image black and white and turned up the brightness and contrast so it could be engraved, I picked a random piece of Melamine to run a sample. When it came out, it took on a sepia tone. I was amazed and went ahead and made the store plaque with another piece. There was very little of that particular Melamine left, so I gave it to him just in case he wanted to make other photos. We will all miss Andy's stories.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, November 11, 2022 9:07:38 AM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

Ever since Covid

I talk to other teachers and we are all noticing the same thing. Some students haven't bounced back very well from the shut downs we all experienced. Most of my youngest students (5th & 6th grade) seem to be fine. In fact, they are some of my favorites to have during the day. Here is how one student named Quincy puts it in a note to one of the staff she frequently interacts with during the week. It was shared by that staff member and I'm assuming she was asked to write about her favorite class. Anyway, I had her older sister years ago in the job program. It is written neatly in cursive with no title, only her name and the date 11/10/22, but everything is spelled correctly and I have not changed a single word.

"I like wood shop because the teachers and because it's very fun. All the people are nice. He always has a good attitude. He has a good and a big heart because he smiles a lot."

What she is describing is the normal day and routine in my class. The school decided to hire someone to come in and keep wood shop open on Friday's. Mr. Rohbaugh does things a lot like I do. He just retired from his UPS job and his wife teaches the home economics. She convinced him to come try this and it seems to be working out. At first he didn't think he would want to do wood shop for the long term, but has since seen how pleasant it can be and how nice the students can be and has changed his mind. He is more interested each day and even comes in other days to learn how to use the laser for example.

That change of heart means I can look forward to maybe working only one more year and then retire for a 2nd time. My heart health deserves a slow down which already seems to be happening. I'm not quite as rambunctious as I used to be and it is beginning to show. In fact, I surprised everyone by pulling through once again and coming back this year after having missed another few weeks at the end of school. I wasn't sure I would live through that experience, and the school started advertising for my open job.

I have previously tried to get someone at school to come shadow during one of there preps, but it never seemed to work out. I was getting worried that if I left without getting someone at least a little prepared, that everything I had worked for here would fall apart. Already we are having issues with older equipment wearing out. The school can't afford higher end stuff without grants, so we sometimes have to just go without.

For example, our small 1" belt sander that I've been limping along on and has been here long before my 10 years started, didn't start running when one of the 6th graders in my larger classes turn on the switch. Instead of turning it back off and asking for help, they walked away and left it to start smoking. Of course it's not really their fault and it has been making noise on and off for the past year. It may have been able to be saved, but not after that happened. Needless to say, I don't expect the Harbor Freight replacement that is coming will hold up nearly as long.

When our then maintenance man helped wire in the exhaust unit, they didn't use large enough gauge wire so the motor is starved for volts which ramps up amperage and eventually shuts down the motor from overheating. Each time that internal breaker quits, it gets weaker. We haven't used the dust collector for almost two months while we have a certified electrician redoing the wiring and putting in a proper switch. It shouldn't be too much longer before that gets ironed out. *** UPDATE*** But it may still need a new motor after that. It's possible that this one has taken too much heat for too long since the wiring didn't seem to bring down the amperage. Thankfully Mr. Rohbaugh likes keeping the place nice and clean every Friday.

It's almost a comedy that as I wear out, so does the equipment, but we keep moving forward and will soon have it all back up and running again. When the weather warms up, I'm going to have to open everything up and use a leaf blower to get the dust out of the space.

I have to add as I close this, I never expected to make such a splash on this site. My earlier attempts had to all be removed as I attracted a relentless stalker who tried to criticize and minimize everything I said and did. I think it had something to do with being featured in both WOOD and American Woodworker magazines. This is the down side of social media but I found a great way to remove my own material without being noticed. This site allows you to edit. If you take everything out of the post and save it again, it effectively erases it forever.

At least I am also relentless for "good" and disappeared for a while by using a different user name. Once he was no longer around, I started over and this is how it has turned out. I keep giving out curriculum flash drives that keep growing in size and I'm glad to keep sharing for as long as wood shop teachers need the help.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2022 11:23:38 PM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

Jumbo Clothespins

I've always wanted to try this project but have never wanted to purchase kits. I prefer to figure out how to do the job with practically nothing. It's a great skill to teach kids so that they can make almost anything.

I ran across this dark colored clothespin in our local 2nd hand store and knew right away it was .60¢ cents well spent. I immediately began searching for springs and almost gave up until I ran across these for $1.15 each when purchased by the 100. The lighter clothespin shown below is the first prototype, before I had everything properly dialed in. Not a bad start.

The template

The school liked the idea and made the purchase but as you can see above, I found the springs were a bit smaller than the dark example. I managed to scale it down to fit and made this template which was used for that prototype. I believe the scaled down version actually looks more in proportion to a real clothes pin... and it better fits the scrap wood we are able to get for free. With a little adjustment to the outside notch, the spring eventually went into place better on the 2nd try.

The clothespin drilling jig.

Students trace the pattern in mirror image but it doesn't get cut to shape until after it goes through this drilling jig where two different sizes of Forstner bits cut the front and middle arched notches. I later added a couple of springs to the ends of the filler piece so different length could be held securely. Sorry they aren't in this photo, but it really made it easier for students who may have cut their blanks a fraction short.

The traced pieces slide in from the right and the spacer keeps them in place while the end is closed. The top hole guides are made from MDF and are easily replaceable if they get abused. The other parts of the jig are made with solid maple and hickory scraps from MCK woodworking, a local cabinet shop run by a former student of mine.

The clothes pin parts are being securely held slightly apart from one another at the front end but together at the back forming a slight V shape. Drilling through the guides makes holes and completes the arched notch operation.

Kade is the first student to try out the project. This will be a great test to see how well everything works in real production by a student.

The Bandsaw

That will be followed by doing some cutting slightly outside the traced lines giving each half it's tapered shape and leaving room to sand away the saw marks.

After a little bit of sanding with the belt-disc sander, the spring is added, being installed in the same way as it's done on it's little cousins out on the clothes line.

We noticed that tweaking the spring a little bit helps the pieces to lay down flat when they come together. We started out doing this by hand with a couple of wrenches. This method is easier, works better, and doesn't scratch the gold finish.

The spring's coil fits down into the mortise. There is a groove on the back of this maple piece that give leverage to tweak the spring just enough to make it install better and hold the pieces flatter. The spring must be taken past the line and then allowed to come back until it lines up with the mark. If it's not far enough, we keep trying until it is because it does matter.

Here is a close up of the final shape after tweaking. It's only a small amount but it really makes a big difference in the final appearance.

This next photo demonstrates the easiest way to install the clothespin's spring. Place a screwdriver through the coil and start the spring from the tapered end. As the spring gets pressed downward, it works it's way down until it snaps into place. Easy does it.

And as expected... the students are all lining up to give it a try. I love when a plan comes together. My students are the best and deserve the best I can give them. I love figuring out how to help them to figure things out.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2022 7:54:32 AM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

Using the laser to meet new staff

When we have new staff, I try to help them get started by showing them how to laser a name plate for their room. It's a great icebreaker to get them into shop and welcome them to our school. I just don't usually end up on their phone. This 4th grade teacher who caught me in surprise, laughed and said "That look on your face"! Then when I asked her to send it to me, she got a reply from someone, but it wasn't me. I think she forgot one word of my email. Who ever you are, please delete this awful photo. I look so old. Ha! I thought you were taking a close up and cropping me out.

MCK Woodworks let's me go through their scraps before they go into their dumpster. This keeps me out of the dumpster which is nice of them to do because I have been dumpster diving many times in my life so I can bring back cool free things to my classes. Sometimes it has been stained and finished as this example shows. My students know that I care about them and the environment that they are inheriting from us. I salvage, reuse, recycle just about everything we have in our shop. I rarely buy new materials or supplies. It's a way of life for me and I've shown this to as many teachers as I can. I hope this example has catches on and is practiced more and more.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2022 6:59:07 AM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

My Gift To Nurse Nicole

I'm still here! It's hard to believe so much time has past since my first year 43 years ago. Blink of an Eye I've heard it said and they were right. It doesn't seem possible that only a short time ago I was still in school myself. Now as I fight to keep going, I wonder if I'm doing the right thing by returning for another year. Is it my last year teaching or my last year on earth? Who knows for sure? I would like to keep going at least a couple of more years. A big thank you goes out to Nurse Nicole and everyone else on the staff at Banner who helped me on my way. Nurse Nicole brightened my day and I had to do something special for her so she would understand her role in all of this.

Her reply...

Hi Tom,

I wanted to thank you for the kind words you wrote about me to our management here at BUMCP. I am so touched that my care meant so much to you! I always strive to make a difference but in the ICU a lot of the time we don’t get to hear our patients talk so it can be hard to judge how we are doing as nurses. It meant the world to me to hear that I made you feel safe and comfortable here during a scary time.

Thank you also for the pen you made for me!! I love showing it off at work :) Such a special way to remember our time together on the unit and a reminder to always aim to create a nurturing environment even when it gets tough. Thank you for being such a sweet and easy going patient! Glad to hear all went well with the rest of your time here, hope you are still doing well.

Attached is a photo of me using the awesome pen! Can't wait to be able to refill it for years to come. I wish you all the best Tom!


It is a thankless job in the ICU where most of the patients aren't even able to speak. Rest assured they are all thankful even if you can't hear them say it! If you couldn't already tell by reading these many posts, I just happen to be a real chatter box and love a captive audience.

While I don't have another photo of this one at our local hospital ER, Nurse Ashley made a huge difference and I returned and dropped off a similar gift to her. Before I even got to the other hospital, the on call ER doctor tried to steam roll the process of releasing me after my third visit in 15 hours, Nurse Ashley stepped in and tracked down my real doctor that was responsible for my next move, which turned into a two hour ground ambulance ride to one of the largest cities in the country and the right place I needed to be in this emergency. It's all a blur, but these two Nurses may have gone on not realizing how special they are, so I made sure to tell them in my own way. And May is the month for Celebrating and Honoring nurses too.

And if that wasn't enough, there's more. I have run across many a hospital staff and when they make a difference I try to come back and let them know whenever I can. A few months ago I actually had a male nurse named Charles who as it turns out had been a student in my High School class. I gave him, his aide Kat and Nurse Hope, toys for their young children that I made especially for them in my class as a way to show my appreciation. Doggie banks and Ping Pong ball shooters, before they were banded that is. I wish I could have done that for everyone, and several of those also remembered my class. Hey, you've got to love small towns where you can usually see people you know almost everywhere you go.

Oh well, life goes on and I'm looking forward to this new year filled with so much hope and possibility.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2022 4:56:26 PM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

The Ping Pong Disaster

By the title everyone could probably guess what happened. Our beloved Ping Pong Launcher is a project no more. There is always one in the crowd. You know them. They are the ones who don't think first and usually act inappropriately because of it. The ones who rarely want to follow directions or rules. Our friend took an unfinished project out to the playground and started pointing it at the younger kids. The terrified kids don't understand... he thought he was being funny. Our new Principal was certainly not amused. It's a good thing I had proper clearance from the school's founder some nine years ago. Still, I didn't argue the point and took both the templates and the model home. Too bad our society is changing in ways we could never predicted only few decades ago. It was a great project while it lasted.

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Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2022 3:23:49 PM

A big thank you goes out to Woodcraft for hosting this site.

The $1000 grant

After a dozen or so of our teachers scored this grant in a half hour's worth of investment, I had to do a work around to get this to go through. It's a long story and took a lot more time for me, but in the end the wood shop was successful, and without having a personal cell phone or having to buy from Amazon.

Thank goodness that Grainger was on their approved list of vendors or there wouldn't have been anything available for our wood shop because I don't have a cell phone which is required to get an Amazon account. Stupid reasoning on their part. The limitations of buying from Grainger were created only by my shop safety theme. Throwing in some other things like sandpaper or screws wasn't really fitting into that theme, and that is why I focused on the more expensive safety glasses.

The grants keep coming to us as other teachers here follow suit. This is all due to our state's department of education offering the opportunity to help teachers in Arizona. I'm not sure when the offer will end, but these mini-grants are very helpful to a small school like ours. Once the money runs out, and it will, there will be some sad teachers who didn't jump on it sooner. I'm hoping to see every Franklin teacher get this classroom mini grant while they still can.

I can't believe the typo... googles Ha! Goggles. I'm a dweeb. But this is what I wanted. I'm so tired of cheap safety glasses that sometimes don't even last a semester.

It appears this place takes a pretty good chunk of the amount for their efforts.

I would have liked to have a few extras for just in case. I will be telling my students that if I see or hear anything out of the ordinary, they will not be able to use the good safety glasses and will instead be issued a pair of the 99 cent one again. I may actually make them sign a statement to that effect.

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