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Forum topic by MrGrady0681 posted 02-18-2015 07:21 PM 1810 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1194 days

02-18-2015 07:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner wood shop teacher plans projects

Hey everybody,
I’ve been a woodshop teacher for just a couple of years now, and in the past have required students to make a simple jewelry box, mostly because it requires them to use virtually all of the shop tools. But I looking for some new, different projects for beginning woodworkers. Would love to hear any and all suggestions or projects other teachers have done with their classes or that any body has done themselves. Thanks!!

23 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#1 posted 02-18-2015 07:49 PM

Our shop teacher back in the 60’s required us to make a square box, with a rabbeted lid the was mitered, not just cut off the top piece of the box.
Next we had to make a cutting board, edge grain, and it could only be be held with the bench dogs and the end vise. (My school only had 36 high school students).
The third and final project was a chip carved plaque or sign from oak.
I should mention that none of the work was done with power tools… our school didn’t have any except an antique table saw that had so much wobble I could have used it for a dado.
We also had a drill press but we had to share it in the metal shop. Try putting a clean piece of wood on a drill press table that is soaked in thread cutting oil!

I got “A’s” on the first two projects, the last one I regret to inform you was a complete failure, but my mom liked if at Easter.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2777 days

#2 posted 02-18-2015 07:57 PM

When you get your kids to make their own tools, they tend to keep them—forever. I still have the tools I made in shop – 40 years later

There are several good projects that can be used for shop class

This is a little more complex

Wood mallets are a good candidate, so are bow saws

Some made a nice hand plane

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Notw's profile


642 posts in 1753 days

#3 posted 02-18-2015 08:05 PM

I would second shop made tools are great to make. doing things like squares or sliding bevel gauges with brass branches students out a little and lets them play with some metals as well.

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2886 days

#4 posted 02-18-2015 08:09 PM

Push stick, Table saw to cut the wood to rough demention, band saw for the final shape, drill press for hole to hang it and sander to smooth out.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2427 days

#5 posted 02-18-2015 08:09 PM

Teach them how to tune up a hand plane, from dull to scary sharp. This was one takeaway I will always remember from my early wood shop class.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1248 posts in 1713 days

#6 posted 02-18-2015 08:53 PM

A few projects that comes to mind:

Tool tote / toolbox, mallet, boxes for nails etc, bench hooks, handles for tools, level, square, marking guage, router plane, block plane.
Whistle, box guitar, cajon, simple drums.
Home/kitchen gear:
Spoon, spatula, grill tongs, boxes for cutlery, knife rack, serving tray, shelf, spice rack, salad bowl, trivet, cutting board, stool, pendant, standing lamp, candle holder etc
Swords, space guns, cars, cranes, spinning top, games (chess, crocket etc) bats for baseball/cricket/table tennis, whirligigs, boomerang (fun!)

Most of this should be possible to make with limited tools and easily obtainable wood.
Good luck!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3742 days

#7 posted 02-18-2015 09:14 PM

Our high school shop has the kids make a night-stand, and they have a cnc router, so many of the kids will engrave the side panel with the mascot, or a fire department logo for their parents etc.

Desk picture frames (getting good miters at all 4 corners and square)...
Also have them use the router table or shaper to make the profile for the frame. Extra credit, have the frame beveled, so all the corners are a compound angle.

or wall hanging Greene and Greene mirror (4 board frame with ebonized pegs)

For something more advanced, have them make something like a wall hanging jewelry box…. specifically something that requires them to make a panel door, and cut hinges and get an even gap all the way around it. So it doesn’t need to be big, just incorporating the door and/or drawer making skill.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1424 days

#8 posted 02-18-2015 09:27 PM

Here is a glue up box that is a great addition for any woodworker.
Does not have to perfect but allows one to experiment with finishes, joinery, and design.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1222 days

#9 posted 02-18-2015 10:51 PM

ABCs is plumb square and parallel, that alone uses many of the tools in the shop. D & E, Compound angles and joints. How about scaled midget race cars? Then have a competition to see who can get theirs to travel the farthest across the shop floor. My oldest when in her 7th grade class did that after the customary cranberry scoop and whale weather vane. 8th grade was carving tool maintenance and they ended with a contest for best sail boat. It had to float, track a straight line and go the farthest in the pool.

-- I meant to do that!

View jeffswildwood's profile


3190 posts in 1977 days

#10 posted 02-19-2015 02:29 PM

I remember my “industrial arts” classes in middle school. This was in the early 1970’s. I like your approach much better then the way it was back then. Rabbets? not even taught in my school much less any other joint. It went like this, 1st quarter mechanical drawing. copying drawings from a book and finished with designing your second quarter wood work project. 2nd quarter wood work, build your project. I built a simple coin box. box joints all the way with a board lid, no assemble and cut off. A cut handle that like all parts nailed together. (Didn’t stay on long). 3rd quarter home economics, make pop corn and sew on a button. 4th quarter was leathercraft. Make a simple wallet unless you purchase the optional kit from tandy leather then you got to do more.

I applaud your approach and find it refreshing to allow the kids to be challenged to make better projects and to spike their interest. I did fall in love with wood working during that time that I still have that today.

As for suggestions, maybe a gun rack (or collectables shelf for kids without an official red rider BB gun), fishing rod rack, small treasure chest with an arch lid, tool caddy with a drawer. I think these would fit the bill just right for a kid.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View MrGrady0681's profile


10 posts in 1194 days

#11 posted 02-25-2015 04:04 PM

Thanks guys! I appreciate the replies. It seems to be a constant struggle to find projects that accomplish what I hope to get accomplished and to also pique the students’ interest.

View mramseyISU's profile


534 posts in 1545 days

#12 posted 02-25-2015 04:35 PM

I remember making a camp chair out of a 1×10 and a couple 2×4’s. The material is cheap and I loved that chair. I kept it a long time until my brother broke it.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3071 days

#13 posted 02-25-2015 04:55 PM

I would vote for tools like clamps, gauges, chisels, planes, or mallets. Pretty much anyone can find a use for a mallet, whether or not they ever have any interest in woodworking. Other practical projects might include things like end grain cutting boards, picture frames, shelves, and end tables/night stands. These days there are also a lot of electronics accessories you can make, like a phone tripod mount, gadget charging station, tablet stand, phone case, etc. WOOD Magazine had plans for a phone stand/passive speaker amplifier sometime in the past year or so.

When I took shop class in middle school we wired a light bulb, made small metal boxes with rivets on one side and spot welds on the other, made a wooden jewelry box with a hinged lid, and made a small wooden project of our choice (I made an ice scraper).

In high school we made a tool tote with a drawer—I never really liked it because it was heavy and the design wasn’t very practical in my mind, aside from the fact that you could stack other junk on top of it in your closet or garage. Somehow it seems like we didn’t accomplish as much in high school shop class as we did in middle school shop class but maybe I’m just forgetting things. I think if we had made tools instead, we would have learned more and more people could have put their tools to practical use later in life.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View knotscott's profile


8016 posts in 3375 days

#14 posted 02-25-2015 04:55 PM

A basic clock is a rewarding and inexpensive project that has purpose, and can be as simple or complex as the students are able. It’s an item they can succeed with and be proud of.

This might be a stretch for entry students, but if you could come up with a reasonably priced basic 2-way bookshelf speaker, I’d think many students would love the idea of rolling their own, while learning basic circuitry too. Places like Parts Express have lots of low cost components and designs already worked out….just build the box, and install the components.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Woodknack's profile


11626 posts in 2380 days

#15 posted 02-26-2015 06:40 AM

This might stir some ideas, scroll down and click on contents.

-- Rick M,

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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