Shop Class



1939. Anacostia High School, Washington, D.C. “Carpentry shop.” 5×7 nitrate negative, National Photo Company Collection. From Shorpy’s

Geez, I don’t know where to begin with this image. Times like this I wish I was were was a writer and could form my opinions into a well crafted paragraph. Since I’m not forgive me while I rant.

Looking at this shot I can honestly say they lived in a more sensible era. Look at the projects they are working on, very complex wooden boat models. Having built a few wood boats I can understand the difficulty.

Industrial tools, being used with respect. Notice the lack of safety glasses, and yet we didn’t suffer a generation of one-eyed victims. Today they would all be bogged down in safety gear with sirens on their heads. The exposure to the equipment would instill a strong life long respect for the tools they will use.

This generation grew up as the first generation of model railroaders, and seeing an image like this you can understand how come that generation spawned so many craftsmen. What is impressive today, was common knowledge back then.

No dress code required.


About the Author:

I'm your host, Tim Warris, a product developer in Port Dover, Ontario. Since March of 2007 I have been documenting the construction of the former CNJ Bronx Terminal in HO scale. For my day job, I design track building tools for Fast Tracks, a small company I own and operate. Fast Tracks makes it fast and easy to hand lay your own trackwork. Stop by our website to learn more!

Posted by: Tim | 05-30-2008 | 09:05 PM
Posted in: Picture of the Day


  1. Having come from a family of woodworkers, who more than a few of have shorter or missing fingers I might disagree only slightly with the implication of them being safe without safety equipment. On the other hand they certainly had a healthy respect for equipment, that I fully agree, isn’t prevalent today – something maybe that needs to be encouraged more – for the next generation of future craftsman.


    Comment by Eric Bouwsema — May 31, 2008 @ 9:33 am
  2. I like the fact they are all working hard in shop with white shirts and ties under their aprons. Now you don’t see that even in colleges or formal shops anymore.


    Comment by Kurt Konrath — June 2, 2008 @ 8:28 am
  3. Sniff, I can smell the shellac…


    Comment by stephen — June 2, 2008 @ 8:58 am
  4. Well, I’m a young craftsman myself and I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m self taught, but I’ve always had a respect for tools, and try to the best of my ability to learn from the “old salts”!

    That, and wow! What I wouldn’t give to own some of those old tools! They man machines so much better 60 plus years ago!!

    Comment by Brent — January 17, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

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