Class 8 Chair Project: The Gift from Learning

IMG_2158Have you ever taken a year to make something with your own hands — a high quality, pragmatic work of craftsmanship that will last you a lifetime and become a family heirloom? Each one of our Class 8 graduates can answer that question with a resounding, “Yes.”

It begins with the study of the Industrial Revolution and the delivery of a huge log dropped in Spring Garden’s field. Where woodwork projects previously were individual artisan works of great creative license, this work is a reflection of their industrial studies and their ability to work together after all these years as a class. Students form an assembly line and learn what will be needed to create one chair for each student.

During the chair project, they will use typical hand tools as well as some simple machinery such as a hand crank drill press and a lathe that is powered by a student riding a bicycle. This also corresponds to their study of physics and single machines, yet another way chair making is integrated with their main lesson curriculum.


After the log is dropped in the field, students saw it into workable lengths with a two-man saw.  They then begin splitting it apart with wedges and sledgehammers until it is small enough to bring into classroom. From there, the students form the assembly line and begin making the different pieces that go into each chair.

They will take turns moving around to each of the assembly line stations through the year, so they each can experience the different simple machines, bending of the wood, etc.  Once they have enough parts created, they will begin to put the chairs together, stain them and weave the seats in handwork class.

This project begins with physical effort, requires great perseverance and teamwork, and embodies the ultimate in experiential learning. And it is all part of the integrated curriculum. But the greatest gift of this project is the final product —  their own chair made together with their long time friends and classmates, that each student will sit on during graduation and then take home to mark the end of their journey at Spring Garden.

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