Building to the future


Logan Gauthier

Junior Bailey Keck working on his project

Logan Gauthier, Writer

For students who enjoy hands-on learning and working on projects, the woods lab is a great place to start. Mr. Brody Riles teaches three classes: Woods I, Advanced woods and Construction Technology. Each of these elective classes allows students to work on designing, blueprinting and learning the proper safety when it comes to working with tools. Mr. Riles has taken over for longtime OHS woods teacher Brad Lebeda. Students can receive full credit when taking Advanced Woods and Construction Technology, and half a credit when taking Woods I. In each of the three classes students work together as partners in order to read the blueprint and help each other assemble their projects. They help each other measure, cut and piece together their wood projects. 

In order to move onto Advanced Woods or Construction Technology, students must first complete Woods I. Woods I allows younger OHS students to get a brief intro into working with saws, drills, and sanders. Woods I is strictly focused on safety and the basics of woodworking. Mr. Riles said, “Woods I is a ten-week long class and in the ten weeks, four are spent learning safety and proper technique.” In Woods I, students receive blueprints of an end table that they will have to build, the end table allows students to get a basic understanding of techniques necessary in a woodshop. 

Unlike Woods I, students in Advanced Woods have a semester to work on a project that they design and create blueprints of. Ideas from gun cabinets, coffee tables, corn holes and benches have been made in this class. Owatonna junior Bailey Keck said, “I really enjoyed Woods I, and with Advanced Woods, it allows me to design and build my own wood project.” Students use their basic skills learned in Woods I in order to design their projects.  The kids use many techniques and different kinds of equipment through the process of creating and assembling their projects. 

Our main goal of the Construction Technology class is to get kids a brief introduction into carpentry skills.”

— Mr. Riles

For students looking to go into a career of engineering and carpentry, students should look into the Construction Technology class. In this class, students are given a blueprint of a shed from Mr. Riles. Students then have to work on scaling and drawing the design onto their own blueprint. After blueprints have been completed, the students form groups and then create a scaled-down version of a garden shed. Mr. Riles said, “Our main goal of the Construction Technology class is to get kids a brief introduction into carpentry skills.” The class has two options for the second quarter; One build a shed for somebody in the community or build a storage shed for the theater supplies barring approval from Mr. Kath as well as administration.

With the many different options to choose from at the OHS, students can get a good look into the future of woodworking and see if it is something they may be interested in. Many different futures come with woodworking, and Mr. Riles gives each student a great understanding of the basic skills needed.