4-H workshop leads to fair projects

WORTHINGTON -- For 30 years, Dale Solt taught both the basics and the intricacies of woodworking inside the Worthington High School shop. Though he's now retired, his skills in both woodworking and teaching are paying off for members of the Noble...

Dale Solt (back left) and Paul Haberman (back right) stand with some of the 4-H'ers who made wooden bowls on a lathe to exhibit at the Nobles County Fair this week. The youths include Skylar Fisher (front, from left), Trace Solt, Logan Barber and back: Jorgia Lowe, Emmett Bickett and Ethan Haberman. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - For 30 years, Dale Solt taught both the basics and the intricacies of woodworking inside the Worthington High School shop. Though he’s now retired, his skills in both woodworking and teaching are paying off for members of the Nobles County 4-H program.

Earlier this summer, Solt, along with Paul Haberman, the high school woodshop teacher at Murray County Central for 13 years, led a two-day workshop teaching 4-H’ers how to use a wood lathe and make their own small candy dish.

While it may seem like a simple project, made from a block or two of wood, it posed its challenges for the youths - most of whom are first-time exhibitors in woodworking.

“Some of it was hard, but some of it was fun,” said 13-year-old Skylar Fisher of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club. In her first year in the shop project, she also made a CO2 car as a fair project. “The hardest part was sanding (the dish) down because it took a long time.”

With the experience gained and knowledge learned, Fisher said she’d like to make something with wood again next year.


In all, 11 4-H members attended the workshops, and most finished their candy dish in time to enter it into the Nobles County Fair.

In addition to learning how to use a lathe, workshop attendees also had an opportunity to watch a portable sawmill demonstration.  

For her - and even those more experienced in woodworking - learning how to use a wood lathe was the most educational aspect of the workshop.

Ethan Haberman has taken woodworking to the fair for six years, and earned grand champion woodworking with his 2017 entry - a beautiful computer desk. Still, the candy dish project was his first experience using a wood lathe.

“It was amazing - fun and enjoyable,” Haberman said of the project. “You can turn anything - make lamps and bowls.”

He estimated his candy dish took six to seven hours to make - and that included two to three hours of sanding. In the end, the work was worth it, as he admires the beauty in the finished piece.

Emmett Bickett, a member of the Elk Tip Toppers in his fourth year in the woodworking project, said he also hadn’t used a lathe before. He used the tool for cutting strips and sanding his candy dish, and said he learned a lot.

Logan Barber, also of the Elk Tip Toppers, said he learned about the workshop at a 4-H meeting and “thought it would be cool.” This was his first entry into the woodworking project, and he agreed it was fun.


“I would consider doing it again,” he added.

Two of Solt’s grandchildren - Trace Solt and Jorgia Lowe - also took part in the workshop, making their first woodworking project for the fair.

“I thought it was fun and interesting,” said the 14-year-old Solt, while Lowe, 13, said she already plans to enroll in woodworking again next year because of the experience, though she isn’t sure yet what she will make.

“Seeing the process (was interesting),” Lowe said. “I didn’t know that’s how you make (a dish).”

The candy dish project was one of two led by Solt this year for 4-H members. He worked with 40 4-H’ers on a graphic design project in June that had them making decals to put on their five-gallon buckets.

One more workshop is planned yet this year for 4-H’ers; it will involve building bird houses. Solt said the design will have kids learning how to cut sheet metal in the shape of an oak leaf, which will then adorn a wooden bird house they will learn how to make.

Solt said he’s enjoyed the workshops and the opportunity to teach kids about woodworking.

“I’ve gotten to meet some kids that I hadn’t been able to work with,” he said. “I think they realize these little candy dishes are a lot of work.


“It was a positive experience for me - and the kids, too,” he added. “The quality was there” in the finished projects.

Paul Haberman agreed, saying he was real happy with the work the youths did on the project.

The candy dishes - seven in all - can be found inside a glass display case in Benton Hall on the Nobles County Fairgrounds in Worthington. The 4-H projects will be on display through Sunday afternoon.

Related Topics: 4-H
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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