Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fifth Grade Woodwork: Carving a Spatula

Our little homeschool group has just finished a woodworking class, offered by the woodwork teacher at Susquehanna Waldorf School.

At SWS, fifth graders are introduced to woodworking through the hand rasping of a darning egg. Perfect for those socks that they will make in the fifth year! As a group, we approached our woodwork guru about teaching our children from his home studio, the Red Barn Gallery. And we opted to skip the egg for the second project he usually brings to grade 5, a spatula.

Classes began with tree identification skills and a tour of the garden. The children learned to identify wood through their senses. How does it look? What does the bark feel like? Are there "noses" on the bark, does it peel, is it scaly? Does the wood have a bumpy or smooth grain? Is it heavy or light?  How does it smell? What is the color?

This was followed by some table work, charting various types of wood by their characteristics. It was funny to see the looks of confusion on their faces when the instructor asked them to "Please put your names on your papers." Things you never think about — I rarely ask my son to put his name on his paper; I know whose work it is! I had to giggle. Anyway, they learned about the parts of the tree, from a woodworkers perspective: pith, heartwood, sapwood, and the like.

Sumac, sycamore, white pine, pin oak
And finally, at the end of that first class, Mr. Kelly showed them what they would be making and some of the tools they would be using. How exciting! Using a hatchet, he made rough blanks from dry sycamore.  Each child chose their blank and penciled their name on it. (No looks of confusion this time!)

The next class began with a quick review of tool rules, then into the shop to start gouging away. They gouged, and gouged...tap tap gouge, tap tap gouge...until their little hands were aching. 45 minutes in it became evident that it was time to give the body a rest and put the mind to work. They assembled at the tables to finish their wood identity worksheets.

Blanks and tools prepared for gouging.
Tap tap gouge....
After gouging came rasping. They used two types of rasps, a regular American style, and these beautiful Japanese rasps.

Japanese rasps

The Boy's spatula after much gouging, pre rasping.

After rasping came filing then sanding

The boys sanding...sawdust flying everywhere

And after sanding came oiling.

The Boy's is on the right, his friend's is on the left.

A very happy and accomplished class.
Due to differences in wood, each piece is unique. The 3 paler ones still needed some sanding and oiling.

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