Shed-building class promotes DIY attitude

Thanks to a small class of students, residents across Oak Harbor have places to store their tools.

Thanks to a small class of students, residents across Oak Harbor have places to store their tools, shelter animals, season firewood or even create art.

Carpentry 101 is a HomeConnection class in which students build sheds for local families who only have to provide the materials. Teacher Randy Mouw explained that his students provide the tools and labor. Kids from 6th to 12th grade are eligible to take the weekly three-hour class that spans an entire year.

The idea for the class came about when Mouw built a shed with one of his grandsons, who is a HomeConnection student, four or five years ago. HomeConnection is a home-school partnership with Oak Harbor public schools.

“We just had a ball doing it and it was fun and educational,” Mouw said. “And I thought, I know there’s kids out here who would benefit from this experience.”

The class completes four to six sheds a year, and it generally takes six to ten weeks to build a shed, which are 200 square feet maximum.

Bella Stuart, a student in this year’s class, had helped her dad with carpentry projects before, building a rabbit barn and chicken coop.

“I enjoyed it so I figured I’d sign up to do more of it,” she said.

Fellow student Danica Hong agreed.

“The work isn’t perfect, but it’s functional and it’s sturdy,” she said with a laugh.

Julie Hong, Danica’s mother, hired Mouw and the class to build a greenhouse last year. Her kids enjoyed helping so much they decided to sign up to take the class themselves.

The small structures have filled a range of needs for Oak Harbor families, from storage to mini-art studio.

“You feel a lot of pride that you were able to build this just doing what you were told,” Stuart said.

Danica’s brother, Draxton Hong, is signed up to take the class again next year. There are already four sheds planned to be built next year and there may be a spot available for one more. This year, the class built six.

Mouw normally accepts eight kids into the class. He keeps the number low for safety reasons. The students have to build the sheds without power tools.

“So it’s not easy,” Danica Hong said. “We use nails and hammers for the most part.”

The students work in rain or shine. It may be hard work, but it’s also fun, they insisted.

“The purpose of the class is for the kids to develop an ‘I can,’ DIY, do-it-yourself attitude and mentality in life,” Mouw said.

One of the class’s completed sheds.

One of the class’s completed sheds.