Careers in the works: But high cost of lumber may splinter value
Students in Mark Lockhart’s architecture, construction, and furniture fabrication classes at Marion High School are learning skills they can use in the work force after they graduate.
But Lockhart is concerned that, if the price of lumber continues to rise, students may be forced to start building models instead of the real things.
“The price of lumber was horrendous,” Lockhart said. “A smaller backyard shed students built last year would cost twice as much now.”
Unless a patron has commissioned them to do a project and provides materials for it, students typically buy the lumber they use.
That can get expensive if a student is forced to redo a project to get it right.
“If I wouldn’t take it home to my house, it won’t go out the door,” Lockhart said.
However, if patrons need structures or other wood item sbuilt, Lockhart urges them to contact him about making the work a class project.
In addition to rising lumber prices, COVID-19 has hindered progress on some projects.
“We are playing catch-up this year,” Lockhart said. “A lot of projects did not get done last year. Some won’t be finished until next year.”
Starting in eighth grade, students can enroll in an introductory program that gives them practice in sawing and carving wood to create shelving and other small projects.
In Construction I and II, Lockhart’s students built a portable pole shed this year.
In Woodworking Principles I, Lockhart chooses a project, and the students build it. He sets the bar high on the finished product.
Lockhart is proud that one of his students, junior Karlee Fetrow won first place in advanced woods with a cabinet she built, which then was named best of show at the Heart of America League Industrial Arts Fair in Sedgwick.
Last year, a beginning woodworker won sest of show as well.
In a class on Advanced Materials Technology, students use a CNC router and laser machine to create decorative grooving, nameplates, plaques, and signs from wood and metal.
Lockhart teaches students to respect machines and use them safely.
“Safety is first,” he said.
Lockhart said the demand for vocational skills was going to come back big-time.
“If a student can build a piece of furniture, he or she should be able to do well in construction,” Lockhart said.
Students clock in and clock out whenever they come to class. It’s a part of the job.
Lockhart is completing his fifth year as woodworking instructor at Marion High School. He has taught woodworking for 29 years.
Last modified May 20, 2021