Belmont Hill School Summer Program Students’ work part 2: William the Conqueror

We sometimes stumble upon inadvertent discoveries, things that strike us as so quintessentially simple, and yet so great…. Such was the case of the nail-sword made by my student, William.

Kids are always on the lookout for new adventures. When William saw the old English anvil in the corner of the shop, he immediately wanted find out how he could make use of it. After all, anvils are fascinating creatures, they look like a miniature iron rhinoceros, or a unicorn, yet they will never charge at you – even if you hit them with a hammer.

I decided to give William an object – thin enough that he could manipulate it using a cold-forming technique with a Ball-peen hammer. I also wanted him to be able to take home a real “product” at the end of the experiment.
So I went to the depository box of forgotten & forsaken nails and bolts (every decent shop will have one or two boxes like his) and extracted a double-headed nail. I gave the nail to William, showed him how to hold the hammer and hit the nail. Action and Reaction: the first law of particle physics…. and of Life as we know it.

 

After a few minutes and countless "ding, ding, ding" noises, that were gallantly tolerated by his peers in the shop, a blank of a Lilliputian sword was born.

With a little help from a file and a DMT stone he finished and honed the sword.

Click on any of the images to view a larger version

You can guess what happened next….. A “sword” rush swept the classroom.. kids from all over started looking for nails ….. and indeed few more students learned similar skills….copying William and successfully completing a few more swords (P.S. the red on William's hand is paint, not blood, from his boat project that I'll be posting soon).

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Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.