New generation takes a turn at an age old craft

Published: Mar. 7, 2018 at 10:18 AM CST
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An unlikely class at Madison’s West High School is seeing success thanks to a local partnership.

For five years the Badger Woodurners have partnered with West High School to teach students how to turn wood on a lathe.

As a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, the Badger Woodturners work to advance the art and craft of woodturning. That’s why you’ll find the club’s lathes inside the school’s shop room.

"This is a piece of a tree with bark still on it and I'm going to make a bowl. I think that's really cool," said West High School student Lily Sandholm.

Each day Badger Woodturning members volunteer up to six hours of their time to work with the school’s four classes. In a six-week program dedicated to woodturning, students learn the basics of rounding and tapering square wood.

"It's programs like this that really teach kids to think. To problem solve. That's what woodturning is all about," said Badger Woodturner Dave Hiller.

Hiller said their teaching students to take a vision in their head, and turn it into a final product.

The school’s woodshop teacher Jim VanFossen said the class has seen huge success. In 2018 more than 300 students signed-up for the woodshop class. The class now has a waiting list to join at the entry level.

VanFossen also said he has had two student take their education in the woodturning class and turn it into a career.

"You go to an English class and you say 'Oh, I wrote a paper,' but in this class you come home say, 'Oh look, I made this bowl. This is what I did,'" said Sandholm.