TCHS students turn wood into cabinets

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By Leslie Moore


When deciding what to do for his capstone project, Taylor County High School senior Cody Berry said he wanted a challenge.

He and fellow senior Ryan Cox, both students in vocational teacher Bill Shoemaker's wood manufacturing class, decided to build oak gun cabinets.

"I've had them in class for more than one year in wood shop, so this is not a beginner’s project by no means," Shoemaker said.

Berry said he found what he was looking for with the idea to build a corner cabinet that holds eight guns, as getting the triangular shelves to fit just right proved difficult.

Cox, who said he hunts frequently, found a gun cabinet online that he liked and modeled his 15-gun cabinet after that.

Knowing they would only have an hour of class time each day to work on their projects, the two started working on them last fall.

Shoemaker said the students had to buy their own materials, which offered an opportunity to learn about business.

"A lot of the things they went and got on their own, like the crown molding, so they had to deal with Cox Interior and going out," Shoemaker said. "I think that's good for kids to do that."

Shoemaker said the raised panel doors were made by Danny Thompson at Classic Kitchens.

Berry selected Early American finish for his cabinet and Cox chose a natural finish. Because of safety concerns, Shoemaker said, he sprayed the finish on the cabinets. However, the students did the majority of the work on their own.

Cox and Berry said they used about every tool in the wood shop to build their projects, from various types of saws to sanders and a biscuit joiner.

"I didn't want to finish it at one point," Berry said. "I just wanted to say, 'Here Shoemaker, you can have it, just take it with you.'"

For Cox, putting in the drawer guides and the hardware at the end was the most challenging aspect of his project.

"And to cut out 15 holes with a jig saw for the guns to rest in on mine was very time-consuming," Cox said. "You know if you do 14 of them perfect and mess up on the 15th, you've got to start all over."

Fortunately, Cox said he was lucky and cut the holes correctly on the first attempt.

Through the class, both students have had the opportunity to make several wood products. Cox has made coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, duck boxes and a small entertainment center. Berry has made corn hole boards, jewelry boxes, mirrors, picture frames and a fishing pole rack.

For those who want to experiment with wood working, Cox offers some simple advice.

"Make sure you have a plan before you start," he said.

Because there are 32 students in the wood manufacturing class, Shoemaker said Cox and Berry help him out by tutoring the other students.

Although the cabinets attracted much attention while they were on display in the TCHS lobby, Cox and Berry said their cabinets aren't for sale.

"I wanted something I could put in my room and take to pass down to my kids through the years," Berry said.

Although neither are planning a career in wood working, both students are planning to continue their hobbies.

Shoemaker says the cabinets are built to last and he believes are much better than anything that can be bought in a store. He said he is always glad to see students take their final projects home.

"Because when they're my age, they'll look back and still have it and say, 'Hey, I made that when I was in high school,'" Shoemaker said. "I've still got stuff I made in high school."