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Woodworking — Grades 6-8
Wood is a very common but overlooked part of our environment. The process of creating something beautiful and lasting from something as basic and simple as a piece of raw lumber is a remarkable experience. In addition to the pride and satisfaction the girls derive from woodworking, it also increases their appreciation of what goes into the creation of all the human-created things we encounter in our day-to-day lives: where the materials come from, how much work goes into well designed products, and how much labor is required to produce a beautiful and useful object.
The wood shop program at GMS is designed to encourage the girls to build products of lasting value. At the same time, each girl gets an opportunity to learn the basic operation and use of the sophisticated wood working tools available in the shop: band saws, drill presses, and lathes are all integral to the projects completed in the shop.
Sixth graders begin their wood working experience primarily with hand tools (using manual miter boxes and hammering nails) to build a small but useful book shelf. Once this assigned project is completed, sixth grade girls can choose from a variety of easy projects, including creation of wooden pens turned on one of four mini-lathes in the shop.
Seventh graders increase their self-confidence in the wood shop by undertaking construction of a small, sturdy step stool, requiring the use of the band saw to create several interconnected pieces from ¾ inch stock. Under constant supervision from adult mentors, they learn to use a versatile and powerful wood working tool to create all the parts for the stool. Once the step stool is completed, the girls are again encouraged to find an additional project of individual interest.
By the eighth grade, the girls have worked with most of the power tools as well as several hand tools. The assigned project, a small box with a secret latching mechanism, is designed to both intrigue and challenge them. The focus now is on precision and accuracy rather than mastery of new tools. Indeed, most of the work on the “Secret Box” project is done with simple hand tools but with an emphasis on making careful measurements, sawing precisely matching parts, and exacting assembly. Upon completion of the project, each girl has a lasting example of a sophisticated device built with their own hands.