Tool Stories


Junior High by Joe West


I was reminded the other day of my junior high wood shop. My first shop teacher was Mr. Clark.

The first day in class was early Sept.  It was still real hot in West Virginia and the pollen was high.  One kid, William, had allergies so bad he his eyes were watering.  Mr. Clark took one look at him and said "What's a matter, do you miss your Momma?"  Which embarrassed the kid but was real funny to the rest of us.

Then it was time for our safety lecture.  The teacher walked over to the band saw and said: does anyone have a pencil?, and I gave him mine.  He turned on the saw and swiped the pencil across the blade, which cut it in half.  He turned off the saw and said "It will do the same thing to your finger" and that was the end of the lecture.

I spent the first few weeks making a house address sign (name and house number) for my father.  I planed a pine board from 3/4" thick down to 1/2" with a Stanley #5.  I was so proud of the finished product I wouldn't let my father hang it on the house in the weather.  It hangs in my shop now. 

I learned a lot in my 3 years in shop.  I made a toolbox, a stool, several bowls, and small stuff.  I've never got over the feeling of self-sufficiency I got from finishing a project and I think it's a big reason I'm into woodworking now.

I think it's a real shame most middle schools don't have shop.  It's a time in a kid's life he needs to fell like he can do something for himself.  It's one of the things that helps a young person down the path from kid to adult.

Joe West
May, 2006

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