Woodshop gives back

Woodshop students make pens to donate to veterans

Ayah Ali-Ahmad and Justine Ha

Veterans Day, a national holiday honoring military veterans, is a day Woodshop students use to give back to their community. Throughout his years as Woodshop teacher, Ted Shinta has appointed his students to craft pens that they donate to veterans on Veterans Day.

“The owner of the Woodcraft franchise in San Carlos [had] volunteered to come down and give a demonstration to my students on how to make pens for [the last] several years,” Shinta said. “I thought it would be a good idea because it would give the students an incentive to do [their] best.”

Woodshop teacher Ted Shinta holds up a box of pens made by his students

Shinta takes the finished pens made from his students down to Woodcraft in San Carlos a few days before Veterans Day. Woodcraft distributes the pens to the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto as part of their Turn for Troops campaign. According to Woodcraft, a woodcraft supply company, over 12,661 pens were donated this year for their 14th annual Turn for Troops event.  

“It’s just a way for them to be appreciated [and] to feel like somebody cares,” Shinta said. “So, thank goodness there’s an organization like Woodcraft.”

When this first took off, Woodshop had more than just one period and they were able to create more pens. Woodcraft used to provide Shinta with pen building kits that contained ink and springs, but now as there aren’t many students taking Woodshop than before, they can only make around 70 pens and don’t receive the pen kits. Before, Shinta’s students were able to create 300 to 400 pens that they would eventually turn in, with each student making around three pens.

Demonstrating how to create pens in their safety unit at the beginning of the year helps introduce the various tools the students handle throughout the year. Shinta says this also encourages them to begin early on the pens, leaving plenty of time before Veterans Day to work on as many as they can.

Junior Andrew Feshkanich smoothens out his wooden pen using a small lethe


Many students start early in the year, and according to Shinta, some students utilize all their class time to make over 10 pens before Veterans Day and continue to create more after. Junior Andrew Feskanich believes this is not only a way to learn how to give back, but also help improve their crafting skills early on in the year.

“It gives you a sense of, first of all, of the accomplishment, because getting something done is nice, but also you have a tangible result,” Feskanich said. “[Making pens] also gives you better dexterity, planning skills [and] a hands-on experience, which is something that I don’t feel these put forward enough today.”

Similarly, junior Angela Chen uses this as an opportunity to grow in woodworking, as she learned how to use the lathe, a machine for shaping wood, better every time she made a new pen and hopes to develop her expertise in making pens for the rest of the year.

“You can really explore the different kinds of things you can do,” Chen said. “In regards to experience, every time you make something you learn a lot. Every pen you make should be better than the last one.”

As well with improving technically in woodworking, Chen is glad she can participate in Turn for Troops, as she sees as this an excellent opportunity to give back. She is also pleased with creating something that can be used by many people.

“The pens go to the veterans, which is a really good cause,” Chen said. “I just keep trying to make really good pens and sending it off to people that will enjoy them.”