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Young carpenters chisel wood, character

Music boxes, steamer chests, gun cabinets and entertainment centers? what do they all have in common? Each of these is created on campus during woodshop class. The sounds of buzzing saws fill the air as various masterpieces take shape in the hands of campus woodworkers.

At one time woodworking was considered a common, necessary skill for men. Today, few can tell the difference between a jigsaw and a ban saw, and even fewer know how to use one of these tools.

“I think it [woodworking] is a skill all men should have,” Matt Doyle, ’06, said. “Plus, its fun to see what I can do with my hands.”

The thought of school starting at 7 A.M. two days a week deters many from joining the class, but for the faithful few, it is a small price to pay.

“I have to wake up an hour earlier to get to class,” Caleb Thiesen, ’05, said. “But it all works out because I get to sleep in later on the days I don’t have woodshop.”

Some have a harder time adjusting to hearing the alarm clock go off so early.

“I have to drink a lot of coffee,” Kyle Gentz, ’05, said. “I’m late a lot, but Mr. [Randy] Hurley is a very forgiving man. He’s a cool guy.”

Hurley began teaching woodshop as a night class when his son, Jason Hurley, ’97, wanted to take the previously un-offered class. Opening the class to friends and family of campus students gave Hurley the chance to hone his skills doing something he loved.

“I taught a night class here at FC for my son, his friends, even someone’s grandpa,” Hurley said. “While I was in college I wanted to teach, but I never finished the credits I needed. Woodshop has always been my hobby.”

Hurley’s woodworking skills and personality are well appreciated.

“He is a really cool guy,” Thiesen said. “He knows a lot about wood and how to make a bunch of things.”

Students have the opportunity to pick their own projects and go through the steps to make a masterpiece.

“My favorite part of woodshop is figuring out how to make the things from the plans,” Doyle said. “So far I’ve made a steamer chest, and I’m in the process of making a mission-style gun cabinet.”

For some, the tangible evidence of their hard work makes everything worthwhile.

“My favorite part is making projects that I get to keep,” Gentz said. “I really like working with my hands too.”

Woodshop is available to anyone who is interested. The small class size gives students a chance for lots of one on one time to spend working directly with Hurley and other classmates.

For more information on woodshop go to and search the archives for woodshop or contact Hurley at (559)-297-1247.

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