So here’s something you may not know about me: I almost flunked woodshop? Yep, back in junior high (what they call “middle school” these days). I was excited when I first walked into woodshop. Instead of a desk, everyone got to sit at a little workbench. Cool! And then you got to play with real tools—saws, hammers, screwdrivers and manly things like that. I was going to have a great time…until I got the “practice piece.”

The practice piece was a rectangular block of wood about six inches long, three inches wide and an inch thick. Everyone in the class had to complete an initial exercise with their practice piece before they could actually begin working on a real project. For me, things went downhill from there.

Everyone got their block of wood and a set of instructions. You had to plane and sand the block to very very very specific measurements. Then you had to put a bevel edge all around the top. When you completed the task, the teacher checked your finished product with a micrometer so he could see if your measurements were correct all the way around every edge…down to the millimeter!

This is the time I first began learning certain things about myself that my mother and father never told me.  They weren’t even mentioned in the operating manual they gave me when I was born. It seems I lacked certain mechanical skills. Odd! My father was an engineer, a draftsman who drew up blueprints in very very very specific detail. Wouldn’t you think I would have inherited some of those skills?

Anyway, I got to work on my practice piece and the first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to achieve the proper measurements consistently all around the block of wood. I’d get one side right, then screw up the other. To make a long story short, I went through at least a dozen or more practice pieces trying to get it right. I never did. Week after week I’d plane and sand, sand and plane; take a little off here, then oops, too much there.

Meanwhile all the other kids were busy working away at building birdhouses and bookcases and cool stuff like that. I kept planing and sanding, sanding and planing. The teacher finally passed one of my pieces with a “D” which was probably for “dimwitted.” But as far as I was concerned there was no doubt about it, the entire episode was child abuse, right out of the child abuse manual that my parents didn’t give me at birth.

I told you this story because it kind of explains how the kitchen got flooded last night.  I was attempting to remove the broken icemaker from the refrigerator and install a new one. Boy, you should have seen all the water.  It was like a firehose had opened up full blast.  Water was everywhere before we finally got to turn off the water main outside.  Then it took forever to sop it all up. Lucky thing I had a Wet Vac.  That sure helped.

For sure, it was an experience I will never forget…just like my practice piece in woodshop. I don’t need to bore you with the details of the great flood and how it all happened.  But it proved once more that by the time you reach my age one should accept what one is capable of doing…and not.  Nuff said.




About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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  1. We had metal shop also. And the times are changing. I actually made, gasp, a gun rack in wood shop. It came out pretty nice and I was allowed to hang it on my bedroom wall and proudly display my shotgun and .22 rifle. Both unloaded and unlocked. Something parents might just get locked up for today. It was, to place it in context, the 60s in rural Pennsylvania where hunting and shooting sports were pretty popular. But the kicker was making, gasp, an ashtray in metal shop. Dad was kind enough to use it for a while before it mysteriously disappeared from the house. Can’t imagine either being “allowed” in one of today’s “middle schools.”


  2. rcarmean says:

    Thanks for bringing back my very similar memories of wood shop. I made a wooden broom holder for my Mom –and she used it. It was my first and last project as a handyman.


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