Could You Pass a 1953 Wood Shop Class?

Monica Lee

Image: Wiki Commons by Snyder, Frank R. / Flickr: Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections

About This Quiz

You won't find 3D printers, electronics or robotics in a 1953 wood shop class, but you WILL find common sense and the proper tools to get the job done. (Of course, it took much more elbow grease without battery or electrically-powered tools to get the job done, but we digress!) You may be surprised that so many of the tools and adhesives used in woodworking classes in the '50s are still in use today. One example: Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) glue, which can offer much more strength to wood when bonding along the grain than say, a mechanical fastener. 

Even if you don't personally recall your woodworking class, you know a lot that can go wrong when drilling, including tearout, wandering drill bits and holes that don't line up. You'll be tested on whether you know the sage advice you would be given in class. You'll also be queried on how to choose the correct grit of sandpaper for your project as well as safety procedures you should always adhere to when working with wood. So put on your thinking cap and head back to class. See if you can earn an A+ in a 1953 wood shop class. 

For safety reasons, what items should you have in your class?

Essentials for personal protective equipment include hearing protection, eye protection, dust mask, fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit.

After applying your finish what should you do?

All of these instructions should have been learned in wood shop, as well as the facts that cold temperatures can prolong drying time, and humid heat can make the finish have an uneven texture.

What does a carpenter's square contain?

Besides all of the above, this useful tool also has some thickness to it, so it can easily be used as a saw guide.

What can you you use to hold wood together while working on it?

Hot glue guns weren't invented yet, so your best bet was clamps to hold two pieces of wood together securely.

Why is a 2' x 4' actually smaller than the stated size?

When the wood is kiln dried, it shrinks and warps after losing moisture. So the mills then process the wood through a plane to smooth down the surfaces and clean up the edges. You get a straight and smooth board, at the expense of the stated size.

How else can you limit your exposure to accidents while working with wood?

One of the first lessons you learned in any shop class was "Safety First." It was the directive back then, and it still is today.

What does "blade kerf" mean?

To make sure you are cutting to the right measurement, you'll need to calculate the amount of blade kerf. To do so, simply measure the thickness of the blade teeth to gauge the amount.

To cut at a 90° angle to the length of the wood, what do you need to do BEFORE you cut?

Cut lines will help ensure you have a nice straight cut, especially when the cut lines are in three-dimensions. Remember to calculate the blade kerf, and to cut once, measure twice.

If you didn't want to measure and cut which is the right thing to do instead?

Although the others are possibilities. The best way to learn to make a good cut, is to use a mitre box with your handsaw. It will keep things nice and straight if the marking technique doesn't work for you.

What is a "fence" in wood cutting?

A fence is a straight piece of wood used to guide the plate of the circular saw. To set up a fence, just measure the distance from the teeth of the saw blade to the edge of the plate. Then set the fence to this distance away from your cut.

What is a plunge cut?

A plunge cut is where a cut starts in the middle of the board as opposed to the ends. A circular saw is used but the back end is lifted to create the cut.

What is tearout?

Tearout occurs only on one side of your work piece: the side where the blade exits the cut. Consider flipping your wood to have the best side facing out.

When do you use a sacrificial board?

The sacrificial board supports the wood fibers on the board you are cutting as the saw exits and allows a clean cut all the way through.

How can you prevent tearout?

Tearout is the rough, jagged edges that result from cutting through thin veneers. Prevent tearout by making a shallow cut along your cut line or scoring it, to make a groove in the wood. You can also cut more slowly with a saw that has more teeth.

Should you always make cuts directly on top of your marked line?

It doesn't matter which side you choose, but you should always cut to one side of your marked line to account for blade kerf.

What does the PVA in PVA glue stand for?

PVA glue is best known as wood glue, white glue, carpenter's glue, school glue, and Elmer's glue. It is an aliphatic rubbery synthetic polymer.

Which is stronger: end-grain glue-ups or straight-grain glue-ups?

Straight-grain glue-ups are stronger. End-grain glue-ups are much weaker, and require a special joint or mechanical fastener to make a good connection.

How can you tell if you've clamped a glue-up too tightly?

Squeezing a glue-up too tightly will remove all the glue and prevent adhesion. Also, very tight clamping can cause indents to the wood.

Why should you avoid using a damp sponge or towel to clean up excess PVA glue after it's been applied?

One of the best methods to remove excess glue from your work piece is to rub sawdust all over the joint. The sawdust will mix with the glue and clump together, making cleanup a breeze.

What speeds do you use for drilling and for driving a screw?

For best results, use a higher speed for drilling and a lower speed to drive screws.

Pilot holes make drilling larger holes easier. True or False?

A pilot hole is made with a smaller drill bit than your final size. This smaller hole will help guide the larger bit for the final size of the opening,

Which is a tip that can help you drill a straight hole?

A steady and confident hand helps when trying to drill a straight hole, but for beginners, using a pilot hole and having a wood piece to guide your drill can help.

What do you call the part of a drill where you insert drill bits?

It's called the chuck, and that's where you can put an assortment of drill bits to handle a variety of drilling needs on your project.

You want the screw to sit flush with the surface of the surrounding wood, what drill bit do you use?

A countersink drill bit is used to create a conical hole in the wood so when a screw is placed inside the hole, it will sit flush with the surface of the surrounding wood.

This drill bit has a point on it to keep it centered. What is its name?

A spade is used to drill large-diameter holes. The drill bit is shaped like a spade shovel, but has a point to keep the bit centered.

What is the name of the drill bit that creates flat-bottom holes?

The Forstner is perfect for receiving dowels, because it creates flat-bottom holes. The Forstner comes in variety of sizes.

Which of these is a fine-grit sandpaper?

Sandpaper comes in different coarseness levels, called grit. Coarse-grit sandpaper is used to quickly remove lots of material, while fine-grit sandpaper is used to make a mostly smooth surface even smoother.

Do all wood types sand the same?

Different wood types have different densities and will sand down at different rates. Always use caution when sanding mixed wood.

Are microgrits good for removing lots of material quickly?

Microgrits are 240 grit and higher, and only suitable for very fine sanding. Spend the few extra minutes with the coarse grit before moving up to the next grit, it will make a difference in the overall look of your projects.

What does a hand plane do?

A hand plane is a tool for shaping wood that uses your muscle power to force the cutting blade over the wood surface. Generally, all planes are used to reduce the thickness of, flatten and smooth the surface of a piece of lumber or timber.

What is similar between a bevel and a miter?

These are both angled cuts. You can also use glue and sawdust to act as a filler for small gaps between the beveled pieces or the mitered pieces for a smoother finished piece.

If you're using solvents, what should you also be using?

Safety is always a priority no matter what stage you are in your woodworking project. Keep splatter away from your eyes by wearing eye protection and always use rubber gloves when handling stains and solvents.

Which of these can you put on your woodworking project?

The choice is yours. Unless your woodworking class didn't have the funds for finishing touches, you can choose between shellac, paint and stain to complete your project.

How would you describe a "cured finish"?

A cured finish is not the same as a dried finish. Cured finishes can continue to do so even after the top of the finish seems dry.

What might you choose if you want a natural finish?

If you go for a natural finish, be mindful that these options will require frequent reapplication in order to keep protecting your work, as they will rub off over time and with use.

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