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Profile: tbockman
User Name: tbockman
Forum Rank: Newbie
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Joined: Friday, November 17, 2006
Last Visit: Sunday, September 24, 2017 10:23:52 AM
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Last 10 Posts
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, September 08, 2017 12:42:15 AM
Great Scott!

I mean that in the best way of course as 7th grader "Scott" is at it again, this time designing a baseball bat rack from scratch. It's hard to believe we are in our fifth week of school already. Scott is fantastic!

In his third year of wood shop, he does a great job with everything he has tried. Having a limited bat collection as any young boy, you have to see this (what he has created) to believe it so here are the highlights...

The template... was the product of Scott taking home the digital caliper to measure each baseball bat so we could have the right space that any of his bats would fit.

Tracing and cutting the sides... Scott decided he liked the already curved cut pieces he found when I sent him to the wood storage around back. I have found these students to be trustworthy enough to handle the keys and come immediately back with what dumpster dive scraps we save there.

Assembling the rack... and installing the Arizona Diamondbacks miniature souvenir baseball bat which Scott purchased while at one of the games, makes it really stand out! This is much better than the idea that I first pitched of making a bat shaped back panel.

The 3 dimensional aspect he thought of is what appeals to everyone who sees it. A couple of nails with the heads cut off, are bent 90 degrees and inserted into pre-drilled holes in each end of the miniature bat. Pre-drilled holes also allow it to mount onto the back of the rack.

If Scott ever wants to remove it, it isn't loose so it can't just fall off, but it can be pulled off with a little effort. That will leave only a small hole at each end of the bat. My bet is that he won't ever remove it and that he is going to cherish this project and eventually pass it down to his boys.

Applying the edging... Scott has mastered the challenge of adding a fragile veneer facing to the plywood edges.

This veneer edging was given to me several years before I came to Franklin. It is very dry and easy to damage which fits perfectly with our reused or recycled materials shop mentality.

Using Titebond II, and letting it set a little on the plywood edge before applying the veneer, a hot iron is immediately pressed to it instantly bonding the veneer edging. We know it is instant because we had to remove one that was damaged while working with it.

This doesn't work as well on curves, so masking tape to the rescue.

Each gets trimmed with a file after the glue bond has set and dried. Sanding completes this process.

It's a bit of a tedious process, but the final product looks fantastic. It will definitely be a show piece that everyone will Ooh & Aah over.

Scott shows off his final product while standing in front of our display window with lots of cool projects crammed into a small display that is seen everyday by anyone who happens to walk by.

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

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.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, September 07, 2017 11:58:43 PM
Our recent experience with Ebony

I know I have covered the pen making before, but... one of our office staff brought in a large block of ebony and a few other misc scraps, which was really nice because it is something we could never afford to buy. Seriously, the last time I saw ebony pen blanks, they were going for $8 each and these donated pieces were far larger than a pen blank.

We have made more than a few pens with it, and found it to be hard and brittle but super nice looking, almost resembling black plastic. We wondered how we could put some of the thinner scraps to use when I decided to try mating it with maple. The contrast of light maple and dark ebony together looks simply fabulous and they easily glue together with Titebond II.

After the glue dries it gets cut down the middle and flipped so the light and dark begin having that distinctive checkered look.

This gets glued back together... paying attention to lining up the seams so the checkers squares stay as aligned as possible.

Then cut their length creating an evenly checkered block...

Each block gets turned 90 degrees and glued back together again in sets of seven, making each half of the pen blank.

Now the pen blanks are drilled on center (from each end) meeting in the middle. The masking tape lets you know when you've reached halfway and to stop drilling. When drilling from each end, sometimes the holes are slightly out of alignment, but a quick run through with a round rasp usually makes the brass tube slide right into place. Gorilla glue will foam and fill any slight voids from this process.

Drilling from each end keeps them truly on center... but it also keeps the end blocks from getting torn off as a drill exits. Some students have discovered this when they failed to follow the directions.

All this attention to detail keeps the checkers in alignment as can be seen when the pen blanks get rounded.

After being shaped to their final contour, they are ready for sanding. During sanding, ebony creates the blackest fine powder/dust that stains... or gets trapped in the grain of the lighter maple making it a little more difficult to work with.

However, straight and true lines can be expected upon final assembly... at least as straight as you can manage when gluing up small pieces that want to slide around while you attempt to line up from more than one direction.

The difficulty level of this project..? It's certainly a challenge to keep all these pieces lined up so it looks good at the end when the glue makes them slick and want to slide in every direction as you clamp. While not impossible, it isn't easy, but it is very rewarding when you succeed.


Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, September 07, 2017 9:55:04 PM
Wet wood turning party!

I've been staying quite busy and recently had the opportunity to bring in some fresh tree branches that a family donated to the school. After cutting it into workable pieces and sealing the ends, I showed the students how easy it is to turn wet wood. This wood is a low grade (somewhat sappy and sticky on the bark) Juniper and it is perfect for letting students practice their lathe skills.

Ribbons of wood literally were draped over everything in their path and even some went beyond as a few were cascading unto nearby machines, looking as if some obscure cook were throwing fettuccine noodles all around the wood shop. It even clung to shoes and was easily being tracked here, there and everywhere, reminding me of something straight out of "Cat in the Hat".

Depending on which way they held the gouge, serious streams of straw colored confetti ribbons easily as long as four feet could fly off the spinning wood... much to the delight of everyone around. The kids said it reminded them of silly string.... as it was really teaching them the best ways to apply the lathe tools to the spinning surface... or at the very least, teaching new techniques that usually take much longer to develop. It was so much fun for them that it was hard to get them to stop and clean up at the end of class.

The by-product of course were huge piles resembling grated mozzarella, to be cleaned up, which were actually easier to grab by the hand full... to put into a garbage bag for garden recycle... than to try to vacuum up. The less obvious by-product was of course the skills they slowly obtain by doing fun activities like this, which they will easily remember many years from now, even if you do have to sweep up the entire area afterwards.


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.

Amazing... on 8-25-17 this thread went over the 200,000 mark... most ever for this site!

***UPDATE*** 8-27-17 With several hundred hits a day, I know I have to keep my promises and show you the progress Scott is making. I have to apologize as I completely forgot to start taking the photos where Scott is tracing the template and cutting out the base and drilling the dowel hinge. Here the dowels have already been installed. The hinge works perfectly and it is ready for the outside pieces to be put back on.

After the outer sides have been glued back into place, the cleat screw holes are drilled. You can see the leftover hinge holes from the when this was a door on the waterbed.

The cleat is being installed.

The edges are being touched up.

It looks just as good as dear old dad's!
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.

***UPDATE*** 9-14-17 We have been running this machine non-stop for a long while now with little issues here and there, but nothing we can't figure out. After cutting gears and cutting spinners, I am finding out the limits to how long a bit will take it before it breaks. The down cut spirals seem to be the worst as they will eventually snap even after slowing down feed rates and depth of cut, they still eventually develop metal fatigue and give up.

I've also noticed how quickly the fine dust can begin to build up on the machine rails, especially during gear and spinner cutouts. The exhaust system doesn't seem to be able to keep up sometimes as the router flings the chips and dust mostly to the left side. I can't afford to purchase the nifty dust brush and hose that is available for this machine, so I decided to try making a dust system extender to get the vacuum closer to where the cutting actually is taking place. Here are two that I have come up with that seem to be working well.

Instead of a plain old hole at the back of the cabinet, the extender brings the suction right up to the work area. They cover the exhaust port and sit directly on the bottom of the box and telegraph out towards the cutting area and onto the back of the cutting surface using their own weight as an anchor. No magnets or screw hold downs, so it is easy to put in place or remove.

So far they are working extremely well on normal projects. I don't see much dust build up in the box or on the rails. I have yet to make a spinner cutout that really will test what it can do since that is when the most dust happens using larger bits cutting completely through the material.

The biggest problem will be when I use a larger project size. With the way we are using it right now, that isn't often, but if I were using a larger project size a lot, I would have to make another shorter version to allow the X-Carve space to move into that larger area.

Their current length might also become a problem if the machine suddenly veers off path or a student accidentally changes the project size but still uses the same smaller project blank. The vacuum barely fits under the machine and the chuck could come close enough to hit the extender. I'm not sure what would happen next... a broken belt perhaps. I may want to make another extender using cardboard that can give under the pressure of a mishap.

I'll keep you posted.
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.

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