Thursday, July 24, 2014

Help for teachers...

This is the time of year when teachers contact me about planning their programs for the next year, so it is also a good time for me to dig through the blog and answer questions. How to secure a piece of wood to a be worked on if you don't have a vise? The following is from an earlier blog post. Tomorrow I will tell just a bit about planning curriculum in collaboration with other subject teachers, and matching the wood shop goals that students may have.

Blog reader Jason began a woodworking program in his school in Canada where he teaches French Immersion. Wanting to teach woodworking (what a great way to teach French or any other language!) without a wood shop, he came up with a simple vise for holding wood while it is safely cut. He notes:
"The bench fixture was born out of necessity. Because we work out of a regular classroom and don't have dedicated work benches, at first we were clamping to the tables and student desks, the wood was vibrating a lot and the students, being shorter than I, had problems getting over their work when cutting with the coping saw. Some students resorted to cutting while on their knees all the while getting saw dust in their eyes. Not good, to say the least. The tables also took a beating in very little time.

"I wanted the students to learn proper posture while cutting so, I quickly made the fixtures out of left over 2x8 fascia boards and only screwed the two pieces together. After a full year's use I will need to add an angled piece behind to provide more rigidity to the upright. The first version of the fixture only had the 'L' shape with no cut outs.
"I found that the students weren't able to steady their work piece against the fixture and at the same time position and tighten the C clamp to secure the work. So, I cut the sections out and that allowed the C clamp to stay in one place atop the fixture as the students readied the work to be clamped. It also allowed the C clamp to clamp farther down providing more evenly distributed pressure to the wood being clamped. I also had a number of students who were left hand dominant and so I cut out the same on both sides so students could use any bench support.

"With this set up the students can use the support to:
  • cut pieces to length using the side as a straight edge guide,
  • secure wood while using the coping saw,
  • cut out sections of their wood that fall inline with the little cut-out sections of the fixture
  • secure wood with the edge almost even with the top of the fixture to plane the edge square using the fixture as a support.
"As an aside, the use of C clamps is something that the boys in particular like using because they get to crank as hard as they can and it only holds their work better; win-win. But then they need to unscrew it with the same amount of enthusiasm;-)"
 I did a quick sketch up illustration of the castle vise (shown above), so you can see where it gets its name. One c-clamp is used through the open arch to secure the vise to the table or desk and another to hold the lumber in place for cutting. The notches at the top give c-clamps a place to rest, making them easier to use. Necessity is often the mother of invention. What Jason has come up with may be useful to others in the same situation.

Make, fix and create...

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