My memories of the 8th grade, 1946

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Project by Dick, & Barb Cain posted 09-26-2006 11:34 PM 2642 views 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought it would be fun to reminisce about the experiences I had in my 8th grade woodworking class at Hibbing High School in 1945-46.

The school was very well equipped with every machine you could imagine. We had an instructor by the name, Hank Kangas. He was a very good disciplinarian, but was still a very likable person. If you did something wrong you deserved it.

To start out we had to learn all the basics of hand tools. We had to square up a board with a hand plane. With which we made a cribbage board. We went on to using power tools.

We built a nice cabinet with two bookshelves with a drawer at the top. The dimensions were about 12×20 x 30 inches. The choice of wood was Gum wood. My choice of finish was walnut oil stain & varnish.

It was getting close to the end of the school year, so our instructor allowed us to stay after class so that we could complete our projects. I was applying the oil stain to my project. When the staining was finished, I started cleaning up the area. I put the lid on the can of stain, picked up a hammer and tapped the lid on. Just then, my instructor walked up to see how things were going. And SPLAT !! he received the brunt of the spray from under the lid, all over his shirt & tie, He had just taken his shop coat off. What a revolting development. You should have seen both of our faces .Brown specks and all.

That was a lesson well learned. Never put a lid on a can without covering it with a cloth.

After all that happened, minus one shirt and one tie, he still rewarded me with an A on my project. We still have that piece of furniture in our home, and every time I look at it , it reminds of my poor teacher who had to put up with all kinds of things.

It’s still hard to believe that 60 years have passed by. At the time of construction, I never thought it would be an antique someday.

PS: Notice my woodturnings on the shelf

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

15 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4341 days

#1 posted 10-03-2006 01:01 AM

My eighth grade shop teacher was Mr shurwood. What a name matched his nine fingers. Most schools no longer have woodshop. Its was a great place to teach kids planning and problem solving. To let them use the math they learned. I guess things will change…somthing about the global economy and technology. I just know, thanks to my teachers, i can count all ten of my fingers without a calculator.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4432 days

#2 posted 10-10-2006 06:58 PM

Dick: I love this project. The only two pieces of furniture in my house that are not for sale are my Junior and Senior year projects from High School Wood shop. There is just something special about seeing these projects. You did a great job with the little table, and I can see from it that you had a great future working with your hands.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Joe Cumbo's profile

Joe Cumbo

26 posts in 4273 days

#3 posted 10-12-2006 09:16 PM


Again, very nice work. I too got my start in school I had to wait till high school as we didn’t have shop classes before that. You brought back 30 plus year old memories of my Shop teacher, Mr. Doldan. He was missing half a finger…. but he had a big heart!!!

I had my first shop injury in that class. I was using what I thought was pretty safe tool (an oscillating spindle sander) at the time and didn’t give it the respect it deserved. The drum caught a knot in the wood and dragged my knuckle hard against the drum. For years top knuckle on my left index finger was concave. It only took about a decade or two before it was unnoticeable.

Now my son goes to the same high school I went to. I stopped in there for his first parent/teacher conference and low and behold the door to the woodshop was open. I stopped in and took a trip down memory lane.

Nothing had moved an inch in that shop in over thirty years. I couldn’t believe it. All the same tools in all the same spots, even the O.S.S. machine that bit me looked like it was frozen in time.

I asked if my old woodshop teacher was still there but he had retired a few years ago I was told. I asked the present shop teacher how it was possible they didn’t move anything in over 3 decades. He explained to me that if any tool was moved it would have to be up to whatever the current safety standards are today. And if that would have to happen they would just do away with the woodshop.

It brought a sadness to my heart. Woodshop class was how the seed of woodworking got planted for me. My Dad, God rest his soul, was never really interested in woodworking. He worked as a machinist in a factory when I was growing up and didn’t want to touch tools when he got home. If it weren’t for shop class I wouldn’t have been exposed to woodworking and the pleasure it has given me all these years…


View Safetyboy's profile


119 posts in 3786 days

#4 posted 05-03-2008 03:20 AM

That’s a great story! I hope my projects last that long, and hold up as well!

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4326 days

#5 posted 05-03-2008 05:53 AM

Thank you Kevin.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4427 days

#6 posted 05-03-2008 05:54 AM

Man when You were is school Dick. That was before power tools wasn’t it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4326 days

#7 posted 05-03-2008 06:27 AM

All of the machines were heavy duty commercial equipment.

There weren’t many tools made for home woodworkers.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3191 days

#8 posted 11-11-2009 08:00 AM

I remember the lathes in shops in Virginia Minnesota about 1953 or so. I bet our schools, built with the same iron mining taxes, were pretty close to identical, except yours would have been larger. Our lathes were big commercial things like yours. I wasn’t into wood work, kind of a geek even then, but did pretty well at it. Made my obligatory bowl. Wow, interesting similiarites in our memories…...........

I remember our shops area had a multi story central area, with big industrial hooks and cables in the ceiling about 3 stories up, kind of industrial lifts I guess. You have anything like that in Hibbing?

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3604 days

#9 posted 11-11-2009 08:16 AM

Wow dick that talent goes way back a unbealeavable 8th grade build and nice turnings too.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4326 days

#10 posted 11-11-2009 06:35 PM

Thank you, Jim, & Jim.

The 8th grade class was all hand tools, you didn’t get get to use powered equipment until 9th grade, & up.

Our high school had also had a general metals course for 10th grade. They taught us gas, & arc welding, pattern making, & foundry, forging, & blacksmithing. It was a large complex.

I still have some chisels, & punches I made.

They also had a large machine shop with all of the machines needed.

I made a machinists vise in that class.

They converted the foundry into a band practice room now.

We casted some locomotive drive wheels of aluminum for a model engine. they were about 12” in diameter.

I don’t think they have all of the woodworking equipment anymore.

The kids nowadays don’t get the same as we did years ago.

Which I think is a bad move, as far as industrial arts goes.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3191 days

#11 posted 11-12-2009 01:05 AM

Yes, it is sad that they have abandoned shops in most schools. I learned some wood turniing, but also learned basic woodoworking, tinsmithing, electricity, some plastics work, forging, etc. I took radio shops as an elective. I believe you could do welding as an elective, and advanced woodworking was another.

I have used the woodworking, electrical, and radio basics I learned and became more advanced in all. They don’t have anything to do with my job, but a lot to do with muddling through adult life raising a family, maintaining a household, and having fun.

If kids were given the opportunity to work with their hands, maybe they would spend less time staring at the TV and roaming the streets getting into trouble. And they would learn skills that inevitably become useful in our adult lives. And sometimes generate a hobby interest, or a vocational interest. Oh well, think it is hopeless, those days are probably irretrievably gone.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3352 days

#12 posted 11-12-2009 02:58 AM

I am so jealous that you got woodworking classes in the 8th grade. Not only kids nowadays… but many kids going through high school in the 80s also missed out. It’s fun to try to catch up now, however!

View mbulla's profile


156 posts in 3536 days

#13 posted 11-06-2011 08:51 PM

good job!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4326 days

#14 posted 11-07-2011 12:26 AM

Thank you Mbulla!

I appreciate it very much!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View packymule's profile


4 posts in 1429 days

#15 posted 07-24-2014 10:02 AM

My ninth grade project is the only intact one I still have.. We all made a foot locker sized cedar chest. My instructor was a WW2 member of a Tank division. He had a crook in his thumb from some one slamming the bolt down to quick when he was loading 50 cal ammo.. Never seemed to bother him as he taught his classes.. The cedar chest was a lesson in power tools and finishing wood.. I was in his classes all of my last four years in highschool. My last project was a drop leaf Cherry dining room table.. The drop leaves have been re-worked into a step stool for my Wife.. Can’t beat the patina of 45 years on cherry wood.. I still remember the lessons from those highschool shop days.. I like you , can’t believe they have taken many , if not , most of the school shop classes out of schools.. Can you imagine the legal and liablity of the schools today in our law suit happy world.. ! I have in the many years since 9th grade gone from all thumbs to a top of the line wood shop.. And like you the only piece of funiture I will not part with is that small cedar chest..

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