Shop Class 1
Here are some of the projects I've made in shop class over the years.
Shop class started in 8th grade for me (junior high school), which
was called 'Industrial Arts' back in 1969 and 1970. Mr. Adell, our
teacher, literally opened the door to work with my hands and my
mind. Little did I know at the time that I'd continue going to shop
class once I was in high school the following year.
When I would come home from school with a finished project, I gave
them all to my mom and being the supporting mother that she was, she told
me how nice they were. As the years past between then and now, I had
forgotten all about them. But as luck would have it, she saved some
of my projects and gave them back to me in 2003, a couple of years before
she passed away. I couldn't
believe it when I first saw them and thanked her for saving most of
bits of metal that I made back then.
There were many required
projects in Junior High School which included: a wooden gun rack that
held two firearms (mine was stolen the night before I was to take it
home), two hand embossed projects made from thin sheet metal (one out of
copper and the other aluminum), an aluminum ash tray that we formed with
the aid of a sandbag along with a template and was 100% dimpled by a ball-peen hammer, a belt balancer
made out of wood (this was a good coping saw project that looked like a music note
when finished), a kiln or oven project, (like you would use for glazed pottery)
with mine being a key ring, a plastic project (lots of choices here) and we
also learned drafting (mechanical drawing).
The teacher let you pick what type of plastic
project that you wanted to make and I thought something that looked like
a knife would be pretty cool. It's really called a 'letter opener' and
for good reason, but once it was finished I really did use it to open my
mail with for many years. It's funny because I still like all kinds of knives
to this day.
|Acetone was used to glue the plastic together and then
you cut out the rough shape with a hand saw. That was the easy part,
then you needed to start filing, shaping and sanding to the look that
you were after. Once you sanded all the way to 600 grit, you buffed it till
you could see yourself in it.
Sadly this is the only project that I still have from 8th grade, which
is amazing in it's own right.
Mr. Adell had very good control of his class. Horseplay was not
accepted and if you were caught, you either got a noogie or a swat. A
noogie was a head rub with the teachers knuckles and this is how it was
done: he'd call you by your last name, you'd come over and the teacher
would have his arm bent next to his side. You lowered your head down and put
it through his arm and then a headlock ensued. From there the teacher
would spend about 15 to 20 seconds rubbing his knuckles on top of your
head. Let me tell you, once you were free from his grasp your head was
on fire, your hair was a mess and your face was beet red. If this wasn't
bad enough, all the kids were gathered around and laughing at you. So
besides being in trouble you were humiliated as well.
A swat was just what it sounds like, a wooden paddle was used to get
spanked with. Here's how that punishment went: you went to the principal's
office after school, you were told to bend over and grab your ankles and
then... bam, bam. Most of the time if you earned a
swat, you might get kicked out of class and that was it. And yes, kids were
hit by the teachers or the principal back then, no exceptions! Oh...and Mr. Adell could swat harder than most teachers (trust me). I think there
should be more of this type of discipline today because it seemed to
work back then.
This was a great class in more ways than one. First,
you didn't have any books or homework. Most kids need some kind of break
during the day and this class provided that. Second, you could get
creative with whatever you were making. By using your hands and thinking
through the project you were making, both of those things stimulate the mind just
in a different way. A quick note about the mechanical drawing aspect of
the class: some kids didn't like it at all but after I started drawing,
I could see the item in my head three dimensionally. I'm not sure if
everyone could do that or not but it was something that came easy to me. This
class opened another door for me, reading blue prints, which is
something that I do at my job as a machinist everyday.
'Metals One' 9th Grade Projects
The following year (9th grade)
I signed up for metal shop in High School called 'Metals One'. The
teachers name was Jack Fulks and he was a great
teacher. This class had all kinds of required projects that
included: oxyacetylene and stick welding, sand casting, sheet
metal work, using lathes and milling machines, surface grinding and using a bandsaw. I
took shop class all four years when I was in High School and had a great time
while learning how to work with my hands. Little did I know then I would
do this for a living later in life. Now that I think about it, Banning
High School metal shop was my form of college and I didn't even know it
at the time.
Mr. Fulks had complete control over his class and if you crossed the
line you were kicked out. Safety was of the utmost concern because the
potential for getting hurt had been greatly increased from the previous
year (junior high). Horseplay was again not accepted and if you were
caught, you would write 'safety rules'. Safety rules consisted of
a very long paragraph of safety conscious information. You were to write
this paragraph 10 times and there was no way to finish it while you were
in class, it just took too long (yes I've been down this road before).
That meant you would have to turn in your safety rules the next day
(took more than one piece of paper) and then and only then, you could go
back into the shop.
Another thing the teacher believed in was treating the
class as one. Here's what I mean: there was a locked cabinet that had
measuring tools along with other machine shop related equipment that was
opened after attendance was taken. Every item was outlined in black
felt marker, like a stencil, to easily show if the tool was in place or not. Once the class
was over and everyone did their cleanup duties, the teacher would check
to make sure all the items were back in the cabinet. If something was
missing, say a 6" scale, he'd tell the class "there's a scale missing, find it" and
the whole class was on the lookout right that second.
Now if that item wasn't found by the end of class, the cabinet was
locked and no one was allowed to work in the shop until it was found.
Sometimes things would just get misplaced or maybe the next class would find
it. In that case we'd be back in the shop the next day. On the other hand it might
be days or weeks till we were able to work depending on the
circumstances. And to make matters worse, we would have to do book work
in a classroom for our punishment in the meantime. This classroom deal
didn't settle well with anyone and we would work extra hard at finding
that lost item. Being honest, one of the reasons people take a shop
class in the first place is to get away from doing bookwork. One
time I saw a guy buy a new scale with his own money so everyone could go
back to work. Yes, the classroom was really that bad.
My first project was making a hammer. Half the class worked on the handle
and the other half worked on the head. While working on this first year project I didn't realize that each little
thing I did was teaching me different aspects of the machining world.
For instance, the hammer handle taught us how to use a lathe which
consisted of center-drilling, turning outside diameters to a
dimension and to a length, knurling and threading. Lucky for us the handle
was made out of
aluminum, which is easy to machine and very easy to knurl a diamond
The hammer head required the class to first square three sides with a
file. Once the teacher approved the sides were actually square (much
harder than it seems), we machined the remaining sides with a
This reminds me of a story while I was in class (one
of many). Metal shop had about eight work benches that were four feet
square with a vise on each corner. Now any one could take shop class,
regardless of your age or sex. That meant freshmen (me), sophomores,
juniors and seniors might be in the same class together. This could be
terrifying, depending on who you were and for good reason because most
freshmen were pretty thin (like myself) but some of the juniors and
seniors were much bigger. Plus being the new guy on campus didn't help matters either.
With a large group of students working on their hammer heads so close
together, the sound of hand files could be heard all around. Everyone
was working very hard trying to get that piece of metal nice and square
and to be done with it. Then all of a sudden this well known junior that
was working at a bench right next to me (real badass that no one messed
with) decided to do something totally random. Without saying a word he
jumped up on top of his bench, bent his legs slightly, turned his file
around holding the metal end, pulled his hair back and started singing
into the handle like it was a microphone. I mean if you didn't know
better you'd swear he did this for a living on a stage somewhere.
And the song he sang went something like this: "I've got a 409 with a
four speed clutch, four wooded gears you just can't touch." I think
there was another verse in there somewhere but I was so taken back that
I don't remember. The whole time he was singing he would turn his head
here and there, adjust his stance, I mean this guy got into the moment!
Once he was finished he slowly got down off the bench, turned his
file back around, calmly got back to work and never once looked around
the room at anyone. At this point everyone was trip'n big time but no
one, and I mean nobody said a thing because Mr. Badass could take you
apart. All anyone did was shake there head from
side-to-side in disbelief. Now if you're wondering if drugs had
anything to do with it, you'd be correct!!
Anyways back to the hammer project, the large angled end was done on a shaper machine (very
outdated) but it taught us what the machine was about and how to use it. This
knowledge came in handy when I hired into my current place of work (back
because they had a shaper machine but nobody knew how to use it. Good ol' metal
The four smaller angles on the left were done in a milling machine. To make sure the handle didn't come loose once it
was threaded on, the hole was countersunk with a 90 degree tool. Once
the handle was screwed on tight, the end sticking out was cutoff near the
head and then pounded
down into-and-around the countersink with a hammer. A file was used to clean up the
mashed handle area until it was nice and flat again. By doing it this way the
handle won't come loose and this taught everyone how
to use all kinds of tools without even realizing it. Note how well
used the hammer head is, it's been a great tool for me and my family for all these years.
Another required project was making a solid aluminum
plaque using the
foundry. That's right, we poured molten aluminum into a sand
casting and it was awesome. And yes, I use to ride dirt
bikes back then and as you might have guessed, it was a Yamaha.
We were told to come up with a phrase or some words for our plaque
and once you figured that out, you glued special letters onto a piece of wood
making sure they were in a straight line and evenly spaced. When you
were finished with your template, you were ready to start working on the
casting process. It's funny how the letters IBM ended up in
Making the Mold
This wasn't too hard for the most part: place your wooden template at
the bottom of the mold and center it. One mold half was about 18" X 18"
X 3" thick. Using a screen, you shook sand (think clay) through this screen onto the wooden template till it was
covered. The screen filtered out most of the burnt sand leftover from
previous projects, so the finer the sand the better the casting results.
Using a wooden mallet you would compact the sand as tight as
you could. Once you had the sand compressed and overflowing the mold, you would scrape
off the excess with a straight edge till it was flush with the top. Now
you would flip over the mold
and remove the wooden template being very careful not to disturb any
sand in the process. Note: If you look close you'll see I had trouble
with some of the letters above. This was common and very hard to fix once you
removed the template. The only real way to fix something like this
would be to start the process all over again.
There are two halves to this mold process and the other half had sand only,
which was much easier to
do compared to the first one. The last step was to use a piece of
steel tubing to core-out an entry and exit path (or vent hole) for the hot liquid to enter
into. After you had the two holes all the way through the mold, you dug
a trench from each hole into the area to be molded. Again, being very
careful not to disturb the molded area.
Melting the Metal
We had a small furnace to melt the metal with,
which took about 45 minutes to get it hot enough to become liquid. Once
it was ready to pour, the teacher used a tool that resembled a post-hole
digger to remove the crucible (a container that can
withstand very high temperatures). The crucible was placed into a
steel device that was about four to five feet long with small T-handles
on each end. This device was made out of small diameter tubing and it
held the crucible in the center like a cup holder in a car. With the
teacher at one end and the student at the other, it was lifted from the
floor and poured into the mold. And if you were the one with the foundry
project then you were the one that helped pour the molten aluminum. His
only instructions were, take your time and go slow. At this point the
whole class is checking this out because it isn't everyday that you get
to see aluminum poured into a sand casting. But before that happened, two things
had to be done but only by the teacher.
Time to Pour
The teacher used a special
thermometer placed into the molten metal and once it was at the desired
temp he removed the slag. Slag are impurities that rise to the
top of liquid metal and it needs to be skimmed off. To do this he used
what looked like a long metal spoon. The second thing he did was drop in
what looked like a piece of a sweet tart candy. We were told that it
added something to the metal to help with the casting process. But all
we knew is that it made for some great fireworks when it hit that hot
At this point everyone was waiting to see if any of those sparks landed on top
of his nearly bald head, and It did happen once in awhile. When it did,
the class would laugh and carry on because the teacher would go into a
wild looking dance patting his head with his hands and then started
running around trying to get away from the hot metal. The reason that he
got hurt at all was because of the great safety program that we had, or
the lack there of. Our
line of protection consisted of a plastic face shield with
nothing on top (the kind you would use for grinding) and some thin leather gloves to protect our hands and
that was it. We thought we were well protected with these things, but
then again we were just kids. And in the four years that I was in shop class, nobody ever
got hurt during this procedure.
Note the taper on the sides of the plaque
and the letters below. This is to
aid in removing the template after compacting the sand.
The Big Moment
You knew things went well if the molten metal came out the vent hole
while you were pouring. If nothing came out then that was a
bad sign because it was possible something collapsed during the casting
process. Lucky for me I never had that problem but a few students did. Either way, you needed to let the mold cool overnight
wouldn't know if things went well until you pulled the mold apart the
If things looked good you cut off the excess material with a saw
and then started to sand all the letters flat. Once that was done, you
spray painted it the color of your choice (spray can) and let it dry. The next day
you sanded the paint off the tops of the letters and that was it. Now there's no way you could get away with
doing this type of project in today's world because of safety reasons, but we all
survived and we had a great time in the process. Note: The picture below is the back of the plaque just to
show you the rough surface.
Painting in shop class reminds me of
another story: one of the first things the teacher told us regarding a
spray can was never use a scribe to clean the nozzle. A scribe is a
sharp pointed tool for making layout lines on metal. If the spray can
didn't spray correctly, let him know and he would either fix it or give
you another nozzle. And here's another thing he told the class, "it never fails,
every year someone tries to mess with a spray can or the nozzle and they
get sprayed in the face with paint so don't let this happen to you". You could hear
the class laugh and joke for a minute with this new information while
everyone thought about it.
As the months went by all was going well and then out of the blue
someone would yell, "Mr. Fulks, Mr. Fulks, helpppp!!. That was the
second thing this person did wrong, yelling for help, because now the
whole class knows who the dummy is. The first thing they did wrong
was...yeah you guessed it...they painted their face. By now this person
running towards the sink to clean up, and most of the class was right
behind him laughing!! In the four years I was in metal shop, this
happened at least once a year despite the teachers warning.
This chisel was fun to make and I've used it many
times over the years. You started with hexagon material and hammer
forged one end till it was nice and wide. To do this you heated the
steel red hot and then hit it using a hammer and anvil. After the shape
was close to what you needed, it was then heat treated.
After heat treating, you started filing the
wide area till it was nice and flat. When the filing was finished you
sanded the whole thing working your way down to fine paper, which took
many hours but was worth the wait when you were finished.
Speaking of sanding, all of the projects that you'll see
here could use some sanding because they've collected rust over the
years. But I thought I'd leave them as is. Now some people might see
them as being ugly, on the other hand, I call it 'Patina'.
Look it up.
Sadly I don't have anymore projects from 'metals one'
class but I can share something about the required welding
projects. We had two welding projects that consisted of three pieces of
metal welded together using three different types of weld joints. Like I
mentioned before, we learned oxyacetylene (gas welding) and arc welding.
Once I understood the basics of gas welding, TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding
came very easy later in life. The reason for this is because with gas welding you feed
welding rod into a puddle of molten metal with one hand and keep the
torch very close but not touching your work with the other. TIG welding
is exactly like this but you have one foot involved as well. The foot
part is where you adjust how much heat you want. Many people have asked
me about leaning to TIG weld and the first question I ask them is, have
you ever done any gas welding? If they have then teaching them to TIG
weld is so much easier.
'Metals Two' 10th thru 12th Grade Projects
After taking metals
one you were eligible to take 'Metals two' or vocational metal shop,
which was two hours long now. This was great news because you were able
to make much more progress each day on whatever you were making. One
other thing that was required in metals two was for each student to
enter a project into the 'Riverside County Fair and National Date
Festival'. The Date Festival was held in Indio Ca. which was 40 miles
east of Banning. They had thousands of exhibits and all the schools for
miles around entered projects from both metal shop and wood shop. It didn't
matter how easy or complicated these projects were because the bottom line was
simple, make something during the first semester of the year and it had to be
entered in by February. That meant you'd better get busy or be kicked
out of shop class. However, I don't remember which projects of mine were
then but I'm sure some of these were.
After being in metal shop for a year, I got to know the teacher a
little better, his likes, his dislikes and so on. Come to find out Mr.
Fulks had a good sense of humor. And it's a good thing he did because he
resembled the fictional character Barney Fife, from The Andy Griffith
Show. With that said, every now and then someone would write 'Barney's
Bullet' on the chalk board but you'd pay for it if you got caught. Just
thinking about this again put a big smile on my face!
This bottle opener was a good lathe project and taught us how to cut a
taper and grooves. The slot was cut with a milling machine and then one leg
shorter than the other along with putting a slight edge and angle on that same
It's about three inches long and fits on your key ring through that
hole. I used to carry it everyday back then and used it many times...on
sodas of course :-] For the younger people reading this, bottles
didn't have screw off tops in those days. That
meant you had to use something other than your hands to open them (which
is one of the reasons I chose this project).
Side note: In 2003, I went to the dentist with what turned out to be
a cracked tooth. When the dentist asked me how I did this I answered,
"could this have been done many years ago"? His answer was yes, to which
I said "I use to open bottles with my teeth"! You should've seen his
face cringe when I told him that. And in case you wanted to know, soda
bottles were a bitch to open with your teeth...compared to beer bottles
that is. If nothing else it would impress the crowd.
This is a shifter knob that is an aluminum casting of an
original Hurst shifter knob. The original Hurst shifter knob had their
name in the middle of it but the letters were so small that it
didn't work out for me. I tried a few times and then decided to remove
it and leave it like you see it. Now you would think I'd make something
to use in a car back then but unfortunately I didn't own one the whole
time I went to High School. And yes that meant I walked to school now
and then but walked home most of the time...boy did that suck!
This casting required the template to be in the middle
of the two mold halves because of its round shape. This was much more
challenging to make but it worked out. Talking about casting sparked
another story because it was right next to the welding area.
The welding area where we did gas
welding was large enough to sit four people. Three seats were already
taken but we all knew a certain guy was getting ready to do some
welding. So we did what anyone else would do, we heated up his seat. The
seats were made out of round steel about 1/4” thick and swiveled under
the bench. Once my buddy and I got his seat nice and warm, well actually
it was pretty hot, our lookout let us know our victim was on his way. By
the time he was in the room we were all back to work welding on our
projects. Our victim sat down, just started to place his metal on the
bench and then it hit’m, YEEHAA….he jumped up and started yelling and
patting his backside. The rest of us couldn’t take it any longer and
rolled with laughter. He was not amused...but we were. Good times
Ok back to the shifter knob. If you look close you can
see what's called a 'parting line' that
runs through the center of the handle (right side) which is where the to
halves of the mold came together. I had this handle sitting around for
many years and I finally used it for the first time on my 33 Ford when I
changed transmissions in 2012.
I drilled and tapped the 1/2-13 threads for the temporary shift lever
that I used and it worked out great.
This small vise was a fun project and works pretty good.
I forgot I even made it till I started looking through the box my mom
gave me. The size is 4" long X 1" wide and 1 1/4" tall. The screw and knob are all one piece and has a groove at the
end of it that's inside the movable jaw. Underneath the movable jaw is a
10-32 screw that has a matching radius that keeps the jaw from going
It's made out of steel and it took a while to
machine back then. I used a medium diamond knurl on the knob which makes
it easy to grip and put a small thread relief at the end of the thread. The movable jaw has been machined with a piece sticking
out 1/8" that rides in
that slot so it doesn't move side to side.
reminds me of another good story: one of the fads during the early 70's
was playing with Yoyo's. A bunch of kids could be seen doing all kinds
of tricks during lunch and between classes. Metal shop was no exception
and kids brought them to class, but the teacher didn't want any part of
warned everyone to leave them in your locker or in your pocket. In other
words, don't play with them in class.
Well you know kids, they think they can get away with
anything so it wasn't unusual to see someone playing with one in class
when the teacher had his back turned. But when Mr. Fulks caught somebody
playing with one, he'd call them over and tell them to hand it over. Once
he had it in his hand he'd calmly walk over to a bench, slowly open the
vise, place it between the jaws and crushed it. The only thing left were
small plastic pieces that he'd make the student clean up. Once we all
knew the outcome of playing with a Yoyo in class, everyone was more
careful. And the next time somebody got caught, everyone gathered around
to see the show. Gotta love a good vise!!
Anyways back to my vise, here you can see the slot and the screw that keeps the
jaw from going anywhere. This is the same screw that has the radius at
the end of it.