School News – Future Woodworkers of America

A visit with Las Vegas area high school woodworking teachers.

I recently had the opportunity to tour a few Las Vegas, Nevada area high school wood shops to talk with the teachers and some of the students.

Having taught wood shop myself in the past, it was obvious that some good things have not changed. The teachers are still committed to their students and programs. Their ability to keep 20-30 students safely working in a room full of woodworking machines is nothing short of amazing. It comes from their ability to know what’s happening across shop simply by listening to the machines; confirming with a quick glance whether the student needs immediate assistance or is simply having a learning.

Also unchanged is the enthusiasm that most students have for the opportunity to work with tools and make something constructive with their own hands – and the pride they have in the finished product. Projects haven’t changed much either, although the VHS video storage cabinet has become the DVD storage box and the writing desk is now the laptop desk.  The paint gun storage case was a bit new, but perhaps it’s just a scaled down blanket chest or an oversize jewelry box.

The basic woodworking machines haven’t changed much either. However, two tools did stand out. They were the SawStop and Shopbot CNC router.  The SawStop makes great safety sense for schools and all around a great saw. The Shopbot CNC router links woodworking to computer technologies and design, and provides a new (digital) way of producing projects and  parts.

There are 45 high school woodworking programs in the Las Vegas, Clark county school district, and 26 of them have a Shopbot CNC router – pretty impressive. Some teachers use the Shopbot primarily for decorating the surface of projects while other use them to cut out all the parts for a project. The teachers I spoke with found the CNC technology to be a valuable teaching tool that helped students apply knowledge from other subjects.  To quote one student “ Wow, that X, Y, Z axis stuff really does have an application. I get it now”

Below are some photos of the shops I visited.  CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR A LARGER VIEW.

Palo Verde High School



Valley High School

Bonanza High School

Desert Oasis High School

Located on the southwestern outskirts of Las Vegas, Desert Oasis High is one newest high schools in the Las Vegas / Clark county area.

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