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Students gain expertise in Second Battle of the Build

posted Oct 3, 2016, 8:04 AM by Chris Whitehorne   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 8:05 AM ]

From a rustic-style farm table constructed without screws or nails to a mailbox pillar made with artificial stone, the 2nd Annual Battle of the Build showed off students’ knowledge and skill. At the event sponsored by the Maryville Alcoa Home Builders Association at Foothills Mall on Saturday, judges awarded:

• First place, $1,000, to William Blount High School
• Second place, $750, to Maryville High School
• Third place, $500, to Maryville Junior High School
• Fourth place, $250, to Heritage High School

The prize money will go to each school’s vocational program, and money from a silent auction for the projects also will go back to the schools.

Traditional Skills

The William Blount team’s rustic farm table and benches were made from reclaimed lumber from their teacher’s barn. Gene Huffstetler taught his students to construct the pieces with dowels, rather than any screws or nails. “It’s showing them how things used to be built,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it looks,” said team member Cattie Walton.
Other members of the William Blount team were Hayden Price, Brandon Little, Dakota Burchfield, Ricky Anderson and Austin Proffitt.

Heritage High School used an artificial stone on its mailbox pillar, with a sheet of solid sandstone on top, team member Rusty Hembree explained. He estimated the final product weighed more than 400 pounds, even with the lightweight yet durable artificial stone product. This was the fourth mailbox pillar the team had made, Hembree said, and earlier work allowed them to fine-tune their ability to balance the stone colors, keep lines straight and stagger the rows well. Other team members were Donavon Williams, Justice Rolen, Michael Summey, Antony Ray and Dallas Tucker.


Technically the Maryville Junior High project is a folding, articulated table bench, but the students call it a “transformer,” a picnic table with parts that easily glide into place to form a bench. They modified designs they found online to add support so wood wouldn’t bow, add space between boards to improve drainage and more.
When a router they were using gouged deeper into the wood than they planned, instead of starting over with a new piece of wood, they turned the groove into a design feature that is both decorative and smooths an edge that people’s legs will rest against when sitting. “A mistake turned into beauty,” said Austin Price, who built the transformer with Cole Shinlever and Tyler Higgenbottom.

Combined Interests

Michael McClelland, a senior, represented Maryville High School with a mountain dulcimer he crafted as a sophomore in a woodworking class. “I learned a lot about music while making the dulcimer,” McClelland said. “I learned a lot about how wood instruments are made.” He also learned about the resonance of different materials, soft and hard wood, plastic and bone. For the nut and bridge on his dulcimer, McClelland used deer bone that his teacher provided. Asked what he’ll do after graduation, McClelland said, “Mainly I’m going to play music.” But he also may get to a two-year college to study welding. “If I’m this good at wood, why not try metal,” said McClelland, who has won previous shop awards.

Lack of tradesman

In presenting the awards Saturday, Brad McDougall said, “There are excellent jobs available in the construction area,” and he remarked about the lack of people trained for jobs in those trades. ”There’s more being taught than we realize, but there’s more that can be done” to prepare students for those jobs, McDougall, immediate past president of the Maryville Alcoa Home Builders Association, said later.

By Amy Beth Miller-The Daily Times