Originally Published: December 8, 2015 6:03 a.m.
Middle school students watched as Prescott Area Woodturners (PAW) member Gary Frank turned a hunk of wood into a three-tiered snowman on one of the school's three lathes at Franklin Phonetic School in Prescott Valley.
The former engineer who used to measure everything with calipers, said after a while one tends to loosen up. That's one of the lessons he offered the seventh- and eighth-graders before Thanksgiving.
"I mean, when was the last time you saw a perfect snowman?" he asked a dozen or so students during his Nov. 24 visit.
PAW members donated the wood lathes and other equipment to the school, said workworking teacher Tom Bockman. He said, as far as he knows, Franklin Phonetic is the only school in the area with lathes for student use. He invited Frank to demonstrate workworking skills, including a new technique where Frank "rolls the tool."
"I teach them the ABCs - address the tool, bevel, and cut. My finger is always behind the tool rest. It's the fulcrum for everything," Frank said, casting a spiral of shavings to the floor.
Many schools and districts have eliminated shop, or carpentry, classes, which is too bad, Frank said. These classes teach skills students can take away and use the rest of their life.
Eighth-graders Moriah Henderson, in her second year of Bockman's class, and first-year student Dalilah Kreuger tie back their long hair and don safety glasses in preparation for their turn at the lathe. Bockman said Dalilah brought back a wooden spinning top from Mexico and was able to create a replica on the lathe earlier this year.
The wooden snowmen have twigs for arms. Don't glue them in, Frank said, because sooner or later they will get knocked off and broken and need replacing. The nose, the tip of a toothpick, is painted orange. The students in Bockman's second class of the morning finished the work started by the first hour students using pieces of cottonwood, poplar and mesquite.
Frank said he often demonstrates at the art shows at the Prescott courthouse. He and other Prescott Area Woodturners will be selling a plethora of wooden snowmen, from about 2.5 to 7 inches tall, that never melt, during the Last Minute Non-Profit Stocking Stuffer Bazaar at the Grace Sparks Activity Center (the Old Armory building on Gurley) on Dec. 19, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Follow Sue Tone on Twitter @ToneNotes. Reach her at 928-445-3333 x2043 or 928-642-7867.