YMCA Camp Collins - Gresham, OR

July 29th, 2008

I had an excellent opportunity this summer to teach over 200 students how to make their first turned pen using a lathe. My name is Tim and I work at YMCA Camp Collins in Gresham, Oregon, as the Maintenance Manager.
Our campers ranged from 6-14 years old, boys and girls, English and foreign speaking, and children with special needs. The students were excited to make a perfect pen, regardless of their age or ability.
Before one assumes that I have many years of experience turning pens, I want to make it known that I turned my first pen 3 weeks before campers arrived at camp. The learning curve is very quick.
Each cabin of students (10-12 students) would arrive for a one hour session of pen making in which they would be divided into pairs. One partner would make a pen during the first class, and later that week the other partner would make their pen. I used 2 lathes to accomplish as much production as possible. The first lathe had the duplicator, and the other lathe was only for sanding and finishing.
Before each class arrived I needed to prepare the wood blanks, which I cut from fallen trees on the camp property, then I would round all the edges on the lathe to reduce about 3 minutes off the overall time.
The class looked something like this:
Students arrive at 1:00
Introduced myself and the tools and safety rules of the shop.
The cabin divides into partners and numbers each group.
Group 1 starts turning while everyone watches.
After turning (usually 6-9 minutes) I take the turned blanks to the other lathe and demonstrate sanding and finishing techniques.
Once finished, we assemble the pens with the pen press.
Group 2 starts immediately following the completion of Group 1 and then each lathe was in use for the remainder of the session.
Session 1 usually finished only 5 pens and the remaining 6-7 pens were finished during Session 2.
All of the pens made were Slimline pens and were treated with Shellawax, then put into a plastic case to protect the pen.
Camp is finished for the summer and pen turning has already been put into next years list of events. Students and teachers alike had a great time making the pens and enjoyed starting a tradition.

Tim Fast, Maintenance Manager
YMCA Camp Collins

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