WMSF User's Guide


  • House, a Child's Guide to the Origin of Everday Stuff. Odyssey Productions, Inc., Portland, Oregon.
  • This is a must-see film and sets the stage for everything else.


  • Equipment needed: vacuum pump, vacuum desiccator, water, and green food coloring, gloves and aprons (illustrate safety).
  • Use small pine samples.
  • Vacuum treat allowing one sample to float while the others are weighted down.
  • Split samples after treatment to show penetration.
  • Use analogy between home canning and "wood pickling" to preserve wood.


  • Demonstrate sawing of wood into lumber.
  • Best to use a highly colored wood with good scent like a cedar.
  • Cut boards into small pieces to give to students
  • Show heartwood/sapwood differences, defects, etc.
  • Tell how residues are used so that when cut, nothing is wasted.


  • Use small Carver Press, 6-inch veneer squares, paper glue line, cut to 6 inches square.
  • Demonstrate directional strength in veneers by flexing.
  • Let a student break a veneer into three pieces along the grain (use this sample when making plywood).
  • Unroll paper towel for veneer cutting analogy (works well if growth rings are drawn on end of roll).
  • Use small post cutoff as veneer bolt and place in bowl of water. Ask what happens when heated - - draw analogy to rice. Idea is to get student to understand softening by hot water.
  • Build a plywood sample using analogy of grilled cheese sawdwich: veneer = bread, glue = cheese, platen = hot skillet, press = spatula.
  • Press, allow to cool, and show strength difference
  • Idea is to illustrate effect of crossbanding, strength in different directions.


  • Resin, furnish, Carver Press, forming box.
  • Mix resin, furnish and press.
  • Draw analogy to making a rice krispy treat (rice = furnish, marshmallow = resin).
  • Show other composite products and how strength is engineered via flake alignment.


  • Set up a pyrolysis unit and explain how charcoal is made.
  • Ignite gas coming from unit.
  • Ignite cellulose nitrate film (explain how old film would burn and hence we have no old movie houses left). Compare with cellulose acetate safety film. Light it to show difference.
  • Mention rayon as a derived produce in dresses, tires, etc.
  • Cellulose acetate films can be made here also.


  • Device to hang necked-down tension sample. Hook on both ends to accommodate bucket. Scale, gravel, tension samples, extra weights.
  • Nect sample down to pencil lead size and load bucket with rocks. Before you begin, ask students to guess how much weight the sample will hold. Load until failure.
  • Illustrate strength of wood along grain.
  • Hold bucket so it does not twist and break sample; we augment rocks with lead bricks since failure usually requires more than 100#.


  • Termites, pens with solvent similar to pheromone (old government pens work well). Beforehand, use trial and error to determine which ink termites will follow. In demo, draw name with this ink.
  • Using different color and type of pen, draw a different name and say you have trained termites to follow only blue, etc.
  • Explain trick and relate to biology.


  • Explain role of wood in musical instruments.
  • Have people demonstrate by playing.


  • Using map, explain that central U.S. was alway a plain (no "Great Forest"); Tie more wood today to replanting (5 to 1) and control of fire.
  • Daily wood consumption in U.S. = 5.5 lbs/person. Remainder of world uses 1/3 of that amount. Illustrate with wood discs.
  • Continue with examples of many wood products including paper, etc.
  • Artificial vanilla extract, ice cream and toothpaste thickners are crowd-pleasers.
  • Idea is to tie consumption to things they use everyday and are familiar with. (Do you ever go to McDonalds? They serve you a burger wrapped in a tree (paper), drink comes in a tree, napkin made from tree, put in a bag made from a tree).
  • Show example of each use.


  • Pulp (tissue+water+blender); frames - one with screening, nylon or plastic mesh, paper towels (brown), rolling pin, iron, felt, plywood support, big tub.
  • Use soda straws held tightly and then released to illustrate pulping.
  • Pour pulp into big tub and dilute; tell students you are simulating a Fourdrinier.
  • Assemble handsheet maker (screened frame+mesh+unscreened frame).
  • Let student make handsheet.
  • Remove mesh with white paper handsheet.
  • Place on felt, with brown paper on top.
  • Have students press paper towel with palms to saturate.
  • Carefully peel towel off mesh, handsheet will adhere.
  • Ask why handsheet is white, towel is brown (bleach-analogy = t-shirt).
  • Ask for volunteer who has made homemade biscuits; place towel on handsheet and let her roll to squeeze out more water.
  • End by ironing handsheet with towel over top, peel off paper and give to classes.
  • Ask if volunteers hands are sticky: No - then no glue so how did fibers stick (must be MAGIC).


  • Ask how trees are different (color, bark, size, fruit, etc.).
  • If different on outside, how about inside.
  • Illustrate by passing air through white and red oak (woods look same but different on inside) using the setup of an air compressor with air fittings on the end of both a piece of white and red oak and a glove on the opposite end. The glove will inflate on the red oak, hence the "Thing" (from the Addams family).
  • Indicate different uses for the two oaks based on properties.
  • Show differences in other properties with examples (balsa vs. oak - - hardness; walnut vs. maple - - color; cocobola vs. balsa - - density; etc.).
  • Pass out small red oak billets.
  • Dip end in bubble soap.
  • Blow.
  • Give prizes to those with longest bubble streams. (puzzles, wooden yo-yos, etc.)
  • Be sure to tell them to mark the end they blew on (wash their own mouth out with soap otherwise).
  • This is a show stopper and should be done at the end. Let teachers help with this one.