High School Woodworkers in Texas SkillsUSA Contest

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Project by Pimzedd posted 03-28-2010 10:06 PM 6372 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been a Lumberjock for over two years. During that time I have seen a number of comments expressing a concern about the loss of woodworking classes in schools. Having taught “woodshop” in the 70’s, I agree. Industrial Arts “shop class” made a big change in the 80’s and became Technology Education programs. The change eventually ended woodshop as we knew it in most schools. However, some of the “Vocational” programs still teach cabinet making as a pre-employment training program. Also, some carpentry programs include cabinet making as part of the course.

In Texas, a number of those courses still exist. Many of the students join an organization called SkillsUSA formerly known as VICA. In Texas, students may enter class built projects in a district level competition and if they receive a blue ribbon, they may advance to the Texas Skills and Leadership Conference. The 2010 conference was just held in Corpus Christi, TX and I thought you might like to see some of the work entered by high school students.

The bumper pool table, desk, and cedar cabinet were chosen as Best of Show. There were probably over 200 entries at the state contest.

The close up of the joint work on the corner of the bumper pool table shows the quality of the joint work . The desk was a combination of walnut and santos mahogany. The wavy portion of the legs on the desk had absolutely no mill marks or sanding marks and each wave was perfectly straight across the leg. I am happy to say that I was the judge for the cedar cabinet at the district level and am happy to see that it received a Best of Show rating at the state level. Please note that the door and drawer pulls on the cabinet are the brass ends of shotgun shells (it is from Texas). I included the Asian style bench after being very impressed with how the seat is made up of book matched walnut with the front and back edges being joined on an angle.

I have a number of other photos showing the work of other Texas high schools students that I will try and post in a blog.

I hope you are as impressed with the quality of the work of these high school students as I am. I believe it is outstanding. Given the opportunity and the right teacher, students can accomplish great things.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

9 comments so far

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1353 posts in 5155 days

#1 posted 03-28-2010 10:11 PM

Wow, it’s so cool to see great work like this coming from teenagers. Restores my faith some still love to get their hands dirty and make something vs playing with their XBox All very impressive work.

-- Bob A in NJ

View Fiddelback's profile


5 posts in 4137 days

#2 posted 03-28-2010 10:47 PM

Very nice Bill, your right these students are developing some great skills. l look forward to seeing more of there work in the future, thanks for sharing it with us.

View lew's profile


13380 posts in 4911 days

#3 posted 03-28-2010 11:08 PM

Thank you for sharing these photo and the story.

As a high school student, I was a member of the “Future Craftsmen of America”. Later, when I began my teaching career in a “Vo-Tech” school, the organization had become “VICA” -the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (a bragging note here- our school was selected as the nations outstanding VCA club in the early 90’s) and that has morfed into the Skills USA organization. Our school has had many state winners in various trades including the new contest area of construction teams.

For any LJ not familiar with the Vocational Industrial High Schools, it would be worth their time to investigate. These schools are always looking for qualified substitutes, teacher aids/mentors and employers looking for industrious, hard working young men and women.

Woodworking, as well as a host of other trades are alive and well i these schools!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Gar's profile


84 posts in 4490 days

#4 posted 03-28-2010 11:18 PM

I was in V.I.C.A C.V.A.E in Alpine, Texas as a kid. We went to State every year.Thats kinda where I got my start. As well as from my dad. Glad to see they are still at it. I still remember you don’t have to use it much any more but L’x T”x W” / 12 = bf. A quick story: The A+ students said that shop was for the retards. So the shop teacher “Catfish” Larance called the whole school in for assembly. He handed out our Last year finale test. Of the A+ kids only one passed with 100 the others got 0. The teacher called Jhonny Vick up on stage and ask how he passed the test with 100. Jhonny said ” My dad is a carpenter, and I work with him in the summer.” I have never forgot that and over the years I have told hundreds of people. On that day the shop kids were the smart kids and it shut them up. R.I.P. Catfish you did good.

-- GAR

View Gar's profile


84 posts in 4490 days

#5 posted 03-28-2010 11:47 PM

I would like to add if I may these kids compete in a whole host of things at these competitions. Things that kids need Like job interviews, drafting, wood identification, Equipment safety and on and on. Not every kid will graduate high school or go to collage. I’m a BIG SUPPORTER OF SCHOOL SHOP. I think every woodworker should be to.

-- GAR

View clieb91's profile


4262 posts in 5090 days

#6 posted 03-29-2010 01:03 AM

Outstanding looking projects. I too am a vo-tech school and VICA alumni. I am glad that the SkillsUSA is still keeping the flame of VICA alive.
As Gar mentioned these competitions cover all facets of things that are need for vocational students. I spent many years in New Jersey overseeing the leadership skills division. It was great to see all the kids excited by the program. The staes compare nothing though to the National Meeting and competitions which I had the pleasure of competing in. A memory to last a life time.

“He who hath a trade, hath an estate.” quote on my Schools front office mural.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4929 days

#7 posted 03-29-2010 07:32 AM

It is nice to see that young people are learning a life long hobby or trade. I got my start in high school shop classes and have been in the cabinet/furniture building trades my whole working career. Now that I am retired I still have a shop to build things for me and the family. Enjoyed looking at the kids work.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12837 posts in 4312 days

#8 posted 03-30-2010 06:49 AM

very cool projects… nice work…

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View Gar's profile


84 posts in 4490 days

#9 posted 03-31-2010 07:30 AM

clieb91 must be dunbar votec “He that hath a trade hath an estate; he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honor.” Benjamin Franklin

-- GAR

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