Industrial arts in high schools is much less common than in “the old days.” As more vocational education schools came about, keeping wood shop or metal shop, or an industrial arts program became a thing of the past (replaced by college prep and computer). Many of grew up in a time when they were available, so we probably recognize that even though computers and college prep are important, so is basic knowledge of electronics, electric, woodworking, metal, home economics, sewing, cooking or even leathercrafts. Yes, all those were possibilities of classes a kid in high school could take 30+ years ago. We’ll look at some alternative ways to experience industrial arts for yourself or with your kids or grandkids in your own home.
From The Saw Guy comes 26 woodworking related projects. Naturally there are a few bird houses, plus some wall art and picture frames (your “stock woodshop projects” from high school). If you’re looking for a fun and easy weekend project, this might inspire you.
Many high schools had leathercrafting as part of their industrial arts program. Many of us picked up Tandy (same former parent company of Radio Shack) leather kits. They’re still around.
Metal shop always smelled like oil, and there was always a BIG first aid kit on the walls. This link takes you to ShopNotes with some quick and easy sheet metal projects that you might enjoy … or might enjoying doing with your kids or grandkids.
The old Radio Shack with parts and kits for learning is all but gone, so finding good project kits for beginners has migrated to the internet. Here are a few — one with a very familiar name (that I honestly didn’t know was even still around).
First, the grandad of electronics, Heathkit. It’s not quite the old Heathkit of the past (with 25-inch color TVs and amplifiers), but still a few little kits are available.
For kids and teaching, here’s another company, Elenco, which sells snap-together kits (similar to the old Shack 100-in-1 Project Kits).
And then from Banggood comes quite a few fun-looking project kits.
Beginning Electronics Tutorial
I stumbled into this entry-level tutorial website on electronics. It includes videos and a great explanation of circuits, plus the narrator corrects problems and explains why different designs have problems. He has fun with this and sometimes cuts up. There’s some good basic projects like a very simple mono amp, low power FM transmitter, DC to AC inverter and others.
Basic Electricity … The “Old School Way”
I couldn’t resist dropping this in. Remember the plethora of 16mm films we watched in school? The AV cart with a projector was wheeled into the classroom (by nerds like me), and out came the old educational films from Disney’s “Primitive Pete” series (doing things the WRONG way) to the dry narration of “industrial” films. Here’s a great old one from the late ’50s or early ’60s. The film may be old, but it still does the job.
And finally …
Lots of news hits us daily that can bring us down. Sometimes you just need a moment of “Zen” … a little quiet time. Something nice, something pleasant. Here it is — Ruby, The Rescue Dog.
If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. Also, with the upcoming “heading to Las Vegas for NAB” edition, if you have any tips or stories to share, please send them my way. My email address is email@example.com.