Summer breaks have been kind to the Henry Ford II woodworking program. 

Last summer, Henry Ford II woodworking teacher Christopher Davis spent time at a Northern Michigan paddle board company and brought their unique process back to his students.  

wood paddle board

This summer, the innovative class projects students produced through the process have landed them in national magazines and an impending visit from the host of a national building program. 

“These boards are getting more attention than I expected,” Davis said. “I am looking forward to raising the bar even more this year.”

The attention on paddle boards being created by Ford II students has come in the form of write ups in both Wood Magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens, and a future edition Bessey Tools Newsletter. Kristy Petrillo, who hosts HGTV’s Cabin Reno, is also scheduled to visit the class after receiving a board made by the students. 

What has brought the attention is that Henry Ford II is one of the only schools that creates completely wooden paddle boards. 

“These boards are unique because they are completely custom and hollow,” Davis said. “We do not use any foam on the insides of the board. Materials are hand picked to match the desired design. The boards are also Eco-Friendly – they will never end up in a landfill like foam boards.”

The designs are based on the work of Jason Thelen and his Little Bay Boards business in Petosky. Thelen has become a mentor to students in the program.

Last year, about 50 students built 12 boards, with each weighing approximately 30 pounds. One was sent to HGTV’s Petrillo, who is going to travel from the Dominican Republic this fall to visit the class. 

“The response from the public about our boards has been tremendous,” Davis said. “I took a board to Stony Creek this summer and must of had 50 people stop and ask me about it.”

Henry Ford II students were featured in the most recent issue of Wood Magazine in an article written by Davis. The program will also be profiled in Bessey Tools Newsletter, a publication of an international business that create clamps for woodworking projects. The company is also donating clamps to the program. 

Of the boards created last year, one was donated to the knowresolve suicide prevention program, one sent to Petrillo and the rest were bought by the class. 

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