Monday, July 28, 2014

Woodworking incursion at Wembley Primary School.

Taking the Joy of Wood to primary schools is always a delight. Sure, it is very busy, very noisy, and hard work for us - but for the kids it is a fantastic opportunity to have a go at creating with their hands. For many kids it is the first time they have used hand tools.

Block planes are great for kids and adults alike.
Over 3 days, we would be working with 5 classes of Yr 6 & 7 students, each of about 28 kids.
The classes had previously agreed on the projects they would be making, from the menu I had offered. Four of the classes would be making small stools, and one class would be making small framed whiteboards.

It takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to set up the gear for a gig like this. We set up in the undercover area at the school.
Lunchtime - however quite a few kids came in, keen to work on their stools.
All the wood we were using had been rescued from the waste stream, with most of it coming from packing crates from the northern hemisphere. Some teaching of each class was done at the start of each session about the wood recycling imperative.
It all starts here. Packing crate material from the USA. A fantastic resource. 
For simplicity in the hands of the kids, I had machined the timber into consistent dimensions for the componentry. Nearly 120 stools and 30 whiteboards... that was a heck of a lot of timber!
One of the saws in action at the Sawing Station.
We teach the kids how to safely and efficiently use a range of hand tools. A Sawing Station was set up, with 10 tenon saws, each at a fixed bench hook with soft cramps as optional aids. The sawing station was a very busy place, with so many pieces to be cut for each stool.
Removing the arrisses with a Block Plane.
The students were shown how to use the block plane for removing the arrisses from their components prior to assembly.  They usually get the hang of it pretty quickly.
The structure is simple, and held with glue and nails.
A plywood jig was provided to assist with getting the angle of the legs right when the legs were glued and nailed to the end rails. the 2 end frames are assembled first, then the front and back rails are fitted, then lastly the three slat top is fixed on.
A completed whiteboard having a final clean-up with sand paper.
While the stools were glued and nailed, the whiteboard frames were screwed - using hand drills for drilling the holes, countersink bits in hand drills, and spiral ratchet screwdrivers to pump the screws.
Love this. A funky stand for a whiteboard... all his own work!
Our sessions were 2.5 hours long, which was only just enough time to complete the projects. Some breezed through, some found it quite challenging, but it was achievable by all. They were very rightfully all very proud of their completed stools and whiteboards.
Nice job, gang!
Sure, there was the odd wonky one, but no matter. The makers were proud of their work.
Where necessary, we levelled their feet.
It was a great 3 days at Wembley Primary School, and such a pleasure to see so many students enjoying themselves creating their stools and whiteboards.

Working with the hands is good for mind, the body and the soul....
We just need a lot more of it in our lives.

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