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Students step up to woodworking challenge

A group of high school students recently made a point of proving that woodworking manufacturing can still thrive in the U.S.

High school and community college students in South Boston, Va., recently partnered with an international furniture maker to prove that manufacturing still has a place in the U.S. economy.

The students, who are enrolled in the product design and development program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, Va., were challenged by Lloyd Buxton, a furniture manufacturer based in High Point, N.C. The objective was to produce an occasional table as efficiently and at as low of a cost as one built overseas.

And they had one week to do it.

“They sought us out because they knew we had a program capable of providing that service for them,” says Clint Johnson, program director and a WoodLINKS instructor. “They wanted a story behind it. They wanted to stay in the same price range and they wanted to take a green approach using reclaimed lumber.”

The team, which also included WoodLINKS students from Halifax Community High School in South Boston and college students from the center’s Research and Development Center for Advance Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency, started by creating a 3-D drawing with the TopSolid CAD software. The table parts were fabricated on a 3-axis CNC router, manually distressed and then prepared for finishing.

“We all learned that the only way we could make these tables in America and stay close to their cost was to utilize mass-manufacturing principles and CAD/CAM technology in a production environment,” says Johnson.

The table was featured in the Lloyd Buxton showroom in October at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point.

Contact: Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, 820 Bruce St., South Boston, VA 24592. Tel: 800-283-0098.

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue.

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