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O-level woodwork challenge

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AndyT

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Back in 2017, in this thread the discussion touched on O-level practical tests. Custard posted diagrams of one such, from the 1970s. I'm sure he won't mind if I re-post the diagrams:

O-Level-Woodwork001.jpg


O-Level-Woodwork002.jpg


This was to be done in three hours.

That looks quite a challenge to me, and everyone likes a challenge, even if it's about 45 years too late. :D

So I am going to have a go, against the clock, and see how I get on.

The diagram calls for two pieces of hardwood to be provided and I assume that they would have been planed to size. To get suitable sized pieces I have found and planed up an offcut of cedar and a little bit of redwood. Not quite hardwood but this isn't quite a real exam so it will have to do. I have planed them reasonably carefully, glad that I'm not a technician preparing for a class of thirty.

o-level01.jpg


I shall get round to doing this in the next week or so, but it will be a lot more interesting if a few more people join in at the same time. We'll also need some highly skilled examiners!

I know there are some folk on here who have had time as teachers, and there must be quite a few who passed exams like this one and got good marks, but this is just a bit of fun, so why not have a go? Who's in?
 

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Phil Pascoe

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Yes, the wood would have been pre prepared, exactly to size squareness etc. We used agba or jelutong, (1970, 1972, O and A) both easily worked hardwoods.
 

AndyT

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Trevanion":5fjclut3 said:
If I can make the time I'll have a crack at it :)
Excellent. Will you be using your mortising machine and spindle moulder? ;)
 

Trevanion

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AndyT":16zyzvkv said:
Excellent. Will you be using your mortising machine and spindle moulder? ;)
Nah, I'll just plop it in a CNC and push a button or two and hope for the best! :lol:

I'm not so far into the dark side that I can't use a hand tool Andy! Or at least I don't think I am, this might be interesting :shock:
 

AJB Temple

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Given that we are provided with two dimensioned pieces of hardwood, 3 hours is very generous as long as correct hand tools are available and already sharp.
 

AndyT

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AJB Temple":2mdm0gru said:
Given that we are provided with two dimensioned pieces of hardwood, 3 hours is very generous as long as correct hand tools are available and already sharp.
Adrian, I like the way you say "we" - does that mean you might be joining in? It should be even easier for you to find the time, if you don't need it all!

Or maybe you get extra marks for using your spare hour or two to French polish your completed work? :)
 

Sheffield Tony

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Back in 1983, we had to prepare the wood ourselves, to given dimensions, ahead of the exam. The exam plans did not come with the joints marked on ! That was part of the test, the instructions woukd require you to decide and draw on the plan appropriate joints, and probably some sort of edge treatment like a chamfer. No power tools, glue or sandpaper permitted. Typically there were 4 joints to cut - my exam piece had 3 M&T, 2 of them angled in some way, and a small barefaced twin.

That was the JMB exam board.
 

MikeG.

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AJB Temple":14q3qi52 said:
Given that we are provided with two dimensioned pieces of hardwood, 3 hours is very generous as long as correct hand tools are available and already sharp.
Yep. What do you do with the second half of the time? Maybe they give you extra time so you can fiddle with it and stuff things up. Enough rope to hang yourself, if you will.
 

Trevanion

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I'd probably hazard a guess that an O-level student probably didn't have many years of experience to call upon to complete the task so they might take a little bit longer :lol:

When I was in college it would take some students days to make this:



Not really sure what that said about the quality of the teaching or the quality of the students :?
 

AndyT

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Anyone care to offer thoughts about what tools would be available/allowed?

Is the exam shown specially planned to only need one chisel, a 3/8"? I may want to use more than one.

Would I be allowed to bore a hole at the end of the bridle slot, or do I have to chisel away the waste? (I assume that use of a coping saw is not allowed.)

And what about use of a router to ease and straighten the "tenon" part of the rail? I don't expect a school would have a router for each student, so I guess it's meant to be a test of careful chiselling.

Do I get my own plane to clean up the ends?

Timing is a big unknown. I know I work a little bit slower than Mike but I really don't have any clear idea how much I will complete in the time.
 

Trevanion

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AndyT":ij5j4spc said:
Anyone care to offer thoughts about what tools would be available/allowed?
I was thinking that myself actually! I reckon it could be done amply with this list:

Try Square
Marking Gauge
1/4", 3/8", and 1" chisels (1/4" may be better for the dovetails and the 1" better for chiseling out the trenches in the bridle)
Tenon saw
Block plane or No 04 Plane (for the tapers and perhaps shooting the ends)
 

AndyT

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If I'm chiselling the mortices and slots I'll add a mallet. And a bench hook. And a rule. But yes, nothing there that wasn't in the minimal toolkit I remember at the end of each bench.
 

Trevanion

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AndyT":31zq5kyf said:
If I'm chiselling the mortices and slots I'll add a mallet. And a bench hook. And a rule. But yes, nothing there that wasn't in the minimal toolkit I remember at the end of each bench.
It's funny how you neglect things sometimes that should be pretty obvious :oops:

How can you forget a bloody mallet?
 

Just4Fun

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3 Hours could be a problem for me. It might take me 2 to find an imperial rule!

I am interested in having a go at this though so count me in.
 

Phil Pascoe

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MikeG.":hqjrk7zc said:
AJB Temple":hqjrk7zc said:
Given that we are provided with two dimensioned pieces of hardwood, 3 hours is very generous as long as correct hand tools are available and already sharp.
Yep. What do you do with the second half of the time? Maybe they give you extra time so you can fiddle with it and stuff things up. Enough rope to hang yourself, if you will.
I assume you both did practicals like this as sixteen year olds? :D
 

AndyT

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Just4Fun":2nvhtelo said:
3 Hours could be a problem for me. It might take me 2 to find an imperial rule!

I am interested in having a go at this though so count me in.
Excellent. Nothing formal, just do it when you feel like and show us how you got on. You could convert the measurements and work in metric if you want, the wood won't mind.
 

billw

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This should be made a sticky so people can add their attempts in the future. I didn't take woodwork to O level (well, GCSE since I was the guinea pig year for the switch over) and the only thing I can remember making was a pencil box. I think I could probably still knock one up from memory!
 

Sheffield Tony

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I think there was a limit to what tools you could really need. Our woodwork shop had just one router plane in the cupboard, we were shown what it did, but otherwise it was never used. You wanted the tenons to at least look like you got them right from the saw. I guess we would have done the bridle joint with saw and chisel. Drilling was not part of the way we were taught to cut any joint. Using a coping saw was though - don't see why not.

There were a lot of 1/4" chisels, but few of other sizes, so I guess the exam pieces were designed to be doable with common tools.

Thinking about it, there was quite a collection of "one off" tools mostly for demo - a wooden jack plane, #80 cabinet scraper & burnisher, as well as the router plane.

Remembering our woodwork classes, many kids never really mastered sawing straight and to the marked line. We were only 16, and you had to draw various details onto the plan before you started. It was quite a challenge to do well. Care and control are easier with age and practice. And without exam pressure !
 
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