High School Shop Projects?

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Forum topic by gijoe985 posted 01-17-2018 06:25 PM 3895 views 0 times favorited 52 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 897 days

01-17-2018 06:25 PM

Hello all,

I teach high school wood shop and I’m looking for some more project ideas. Now, running a high school class brings into a lot of factors that are different from projects you or I may enjoy. But I’m open to any pictures, plans, or ideas you all may have.

We currently make 3 things in beginning woods. A “widget” (a simple geometric shape that requires the use of many of the machines), a jewelry box that is made with rabbet joints out of cedar fencing material, and then a hardwood 10×13” cutting board where the students get to design a striped pattern using oak, maple, walnut, cherry, purple heart, and/or paduak.

I’d like to come up with some more projects for the students who get done early and for my advanced class. We keep a lot of red oak in stock, but leave the other hardwoods mainly for the cutting boards.

Things to consider-
CHEAP, for the most part, we pay for the students projects. We are in a low income area and so we don’t charge for projects unless the student desires to go above and beyond (which is rare).
Easy- we are limited on time and these kids are just learning.
Safe- there are lots of cool puzzles and stuff that I’d like to make, but it typically requires very small cuts, which aren’t as safe.
Something that multiple kids can do- We have two large Delta lathes and two small Jet lathes, but it’s tough to work them in when you’ve got 24 kids working. I need projects where a student doesn’t monopolize a machine the whole period. Though I do try to let my kids who are ahead of the class use the lathes, etc.

Thanks for your help!

52 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


3066 posts in 2565 days

#1 posted 01-17-2018 06:42 PM

So when I took Woodshop in 7 th grade we made a tiki mask for our first project.We got to cut the shape of the head and mouth. The eyes and nose were plastic things we glue on.
The advanced woodworking class we made a clip board with geometric shapes all different colors of wood.We were graded on how tight our joints were. This was done with a very large disk sander I remember sanding the end of my finger.
I was highly skilled and also truned a bowl in that semester.

-- Aj

View pintodeluxe's profile


6149 posts in 3580 days

#2 posted 01-17-2018 06:51 PM

A step stool was the project of choice when I was in HS shop class. It was screwed together, and the holes were plugged. The top was routed with a cove profile.

It was small, sturdy, and useful. For those reasons I feel it made a great shop project.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Lee's profile


145 posts in 1645 days

#3 posted 01-17-2018 07:36 PM

How about a picture frame, that will teach them about miters, or on the lathe salt and pepper grinders, the mechanism is about $10. Maybe have them turn a wooden mushroom from a small branch, lots of videos on youtube on how to do this, very easy and quick.

-- Colombia Custom Woodworking

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5788 posts in 3076 days

#4 posted 01-17-2018 07:59 PM

I like the step stool idea. Especially after the recent discussion on step stool.

You could teach a little design and safety. Made from solid wood you teach gluing 2 or more boards together. Splaying the legs out could teach the effects of angles. Those little step stool, I think could have many lesson with in them.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Woodknack's profile


13383 posts in 3147 days

#5 posted 01-18-2018 01:36 AM

A floating top plant stand or taboret etc.

-- Rick M,

View Kelster58's profile


759 posts in 1307 days

#6 posted 01-18-2018 02:05 AM

I teach also. We make a foot stool (our students call it a bench), a four peg shelf/coat rack, a mantel clock (photo copied dial, least expensive movement we can find), and a recipe card file and easel. We make them out of poplar. We are paying two dollars a board foot for poplar. If they want red oak they pay the difference. which is sixty cents a board foot. Most projects have 2 to 4 bd. ft. and cost $5 to $8 per student.

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View tacky68's profile


89 posts in 2194 days

#7 posted 01-18-2018 04:41 AM

Pinto: That is funny, I made almost the exact same step stool when I was in the 8th grade(81-82). Still have it.

Pine, dark stain, BLO. Sits in the basement. Not very stable, does not take much to turn over. Still have my

oak skateboard , also.


View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3576 days

#8 posted 01-18-2018 01:50 PM

I second the stool.

Im on my second one, but still have my orig for back up

skewed support is key for stability

View Holt's profile


280 posts in 3396 days

#9 posted 01-18-2018 01:58 PM

Try Squares, Bow Saws, Winding Sticks,....

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

View ScottM's profile


747 posts in 2914 days

#10 posted 01-18-2018 02:24 PM

Let them tinker around with Sketchup. Good woodworking follows good design. It’s free and you can keep an eye on the students who work slower in the shop instead of the ones who get done early. Google “sketchup for woodworking”. Some good tutorials.

View Redoak49's profile


4716 posts in 2756 days

#11 posted 01-18-2018 02:54 PM

You might try to contact Jon Herrera at Wahoo High School in Nebraska. His students post their projects on Lumberjocks. You might be able to share some ideas with him.

View lew's profile


13114 posts in 4522 days

#12 posted 01-18-2018 03:00 PM

Lathe- rolling pins, 3 legged milking stool

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

View bigblockyeti's profile


6575 posts in 2488 days

#13 posted 01-18-2018 03:27 PM

A Bombay chest or armoire would allow them to really push themselves and be useful when complete. The lumber, however, could be pricey.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3337 days

#14 posted 01-18-2018 03:51 PM

So, when I was in junior high (LONG time ago), we had shop class starting in 7th grade. One project I remember being fun was done in conjunction with another class – must have been science class – where everyone was given one chunk of wood, and had to design and build a “bridge”. Certain length/width requirements were part of it. At the end, the bridges were tested by sitting over an open space, supported only on the ends, and weights hung on them. Which ever held the most weight before breaking won.

I’ve seen this done with glued up Popsicle sticks & stuff too, but this gave the added dimension of having to cut the wood. The downside is that most, if not all, break at the end, so they don’t have anything to bring home. I remember it being a lot of fun, though.

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3337 days

#15 posted 01-18-2018 03:52 PM

Also, as I’m thinking about it – how about a simple bandsaw box?

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