See what happened when these young craftsmen turned their attention to making toys for disadvantaged kids – instead of producing gifts for their own family and friends …
David Douglas High School instructor Jeff Reardon shows the process flow chart that he and his class members developed to help them successfully manufacture 100 wooden toys in a very short period of time.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the few high schools that haven’t axed classes in practical skills – such as woodworking and metal shop – is David Douglas High School.
“Our Woods Manufacturing Program is one of the school’s eight ‘Career Paths’ that are available,” said instructor Jeff Reardon as we met in his office overlooking the woodshop floor to get way from the noise made by saws, drills, and sanders, operated by students.
DDHS student Gerardo Ruiz cuts out wheels for toy trucks using a drill press.
Manufacturing opportunity appears
“I was looking for a manufacturing project for our students,” Reardon began. “The questions that come up are, ‘What do we make?’ and ‘Where do we get the materials?’ and “Who will the customer be?'”
These questions were answered by Gig Lewis, who is with the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers. Explained Reardon, “He asked if we’d like to be involved in a special project. They would provide the plans and material for the project.” The product turned out to be a toy truck.
Members of the Guild, Reardon noted, had been making hand-crafted wooden toys, destined for the Marine’s Toy-and-Joy drive, for three years. “We had six weeks to design a manufacturing process, and produce them.”
It takes teamwork, coordination, and good communications, documenting what is to be done to run a manufacturing operation, Reardon said. “We’ve created a list of the parts for our project, and a process. These are valuable skills to build high-quality products, whether you manufacturing in wood, metal, or plastics.
Students like Max Basarava discover and utilize methods for mass-producing toys –like sanding dozens of wheels at one time.
Experienced young woodworkers rise to challenge
Once they’d completed their production methods, the classmembers got to work. “These students have been in the program for two to three years; they know how to operate the woodworking equipment. What they’re learning is how to mass-produce a product – instead of making an individual project.”
The eleven students in Reardon’s class worked diligently to meet their goal of producing 100 finished units. “That’s quite a few – for example, they need to make 400 wooden wheels. And, there are 14 parts in each toy.”
Geonard Castaneda, Kevin Orszulak, Mr. Reardon, and Anatoliy Pshenichnykh check the production schedule at the end of a class period.
Student volunteers pitch in
All David Douglas students are required to provide several hours of volunteer time, Reardon explained. To make sure that Santa’s bag wouldn’t be light by a few toys, Reardon said he asked teachers of other Career Pathways to ask their students to volunteer on the project.
“The response was great,” the instructor said. “Many of our volunteers, like those from the Arts and Communications group – your future reporters and editors, someday – had never done woodworking. They came in and sanded their hearts out. We could not have done it without them.”
On December 9, the class had their trucks finished and ready for delivery. Because of their efforts, 100 youngsters will be having fun with toys made for them by older kids, right here in outer East Portland.
Student project manager Chris Becker approves of the quality of this finished toy truck before it is packaged.
© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News