Old School Stools


JUNE, 2018

By Sarah Lanoue,
Harpswell Coastal Academy student

HCA Stool Making with Historical Society’s Dave Hackett

Four middle school students from Harpswell Coastal Academy spent the spring months making wooden stools with Dave Hackett, who runs the Harpswell Historical Society and is a long-time Harpswell resident.

The students used all hand-made tools, some of which have been used since the 1800s. For six weeks, fascination crossed all the boys’ eyes as they learned to how peel bark off stumps of wood and small logs, hand-saw large pieces of wood, and then smooth them out, resulting in not just a stool, but a true feeling of accomplishment.​

They used tools such as draw shaves, traditional planes, folding rulers, hand saws, two-man saws, wedges, mallets, among many others. All the boys really enjoyed that Mr. Hackett let them just go for in after a quick lesson on the next step of building their stools. They were able to figure out their difficulties together or just through trial and error.

The project helped the boys better understand how one got through life hundreds of years ago. The history being taught and learned from the hands-on work piqued the boys’ interest more than just being at school.

I asked the students what made this project different than other projects at school. Their answers all concurred. One student stated, “In class we do regular work. Here with Mr. Hackett we have fun and enjoy learning about history.”

“In class we do regular work. Here with Mr. Hackett we have fun and enjoy learning about history.”

The students used no power tools while building the stools and learning their history. This may have been more time consuming, but they were able to embrace the experience of building the stools more so than if they were soaring through using an electric table saw or drill.

As I observed and captured photographs of the hard working done by these boys, their desire could truly be seen in what they were doing. Mr. Hackett talked about the educational aspects of the project, and referred to the use of modern tools. He repeatedly said, “It’s just not the same.”

This is not a common project for anyone in the world we live in today, which connects to what Harpswell Coastal Academy does and want to continue to achieve. There are different ways of learning and a hands-on approach can be much more successful for a young individual than sitting in a class for over an hour.

When Wednesdays arrives, all were excited to come to school for their elective with Dave Hackett. Hands-on work, smiles, and achievement makes for a quality educational experience.

Sarah Lanoue of Harpswell is a four-year student who is graduating this month from Harpswell Coastal Academy.