Oak, ash, hickory, poplar, walnut, cherry. Table saw, band saw, lathe, router, sander, planer, joiner, chisel, vacuum press. These are just some of the cool tools of the trade you will use in the impressive George School woodshop, but just as crucial are an unfettered imagination, a penchant for solving problems, a fair bit of patience, and a zest for the possibilities of wood.
At George School, woodworking is everything but assemble-by-numbers. After “the box” that all students start with, complete with hand-chiseled finger joints, projects are all self-designed. And students really do think way, way beyond the box. You may not be inventing the chair, but you can definitely invent your chair.
To get everyone going, the teacher gives a fairly loose assignment: incorporate sticks, perhaps, or build a bench, however defined. From there you will spend months envisioning, designing, sketching, building, fixing mistakes (or working with unfixable mistakes), and applying a finish that will celebrate the effort you put in. You will transform wood—75 percent from trees fallen on campus, augmented by other local specimens—into beautiful, well-crafted furniture you can cherish, and show off, for generations. Meanwhile, your classmates are creating their own amazing answers to the same prompt. Sticks bend into a sci-fi-esque plant stand. That bench grows into a full-size wooden dog.
You will get more inspiration as you learn about professional wood artists and take field trips to shows and museums. An annual highlight is a visit to the Philadelphia Furniture Show, where George School students can exhibit their work for all to see.
With care, skill, and creativity, you can make just about anything in the George School woodshop. A bowl turned in weeks. A table built in months. A newfound confidence or burgeoning passion for woodworking taking shape over a few sawdusty years. All of it seen in your mind’s eye and made with your two hands.
Learn more about Arts courses at George School.