The Los Banos High School FFA department is doing something that no other public high school in the country is doing.

Rod Hill, Los Banos High School FFA Teacher, led a tour on May 26, 2022 of the woodworking area at the school for district administrative staff and school district trustees.

On display were many pieces of machinery purchased through various educational grants. In previous years the wood shop instructor would purchase dry, seasoned wood ready to be cut into projects.

Hill researched the dehydration process of wood and found a vacuum kiln dehydrator from a company in Vermont whereby his students can now dehydrate their own green wood.

The device, called an iDRY, can now dehydrate large amounts of wood. Depending on the amount of wood loaded into the kiln, an average load can take two weeks to dehydrate.

The iDRY unit costs $50,000 and was paid with grant funds. According to Hill, Los Banos High is the only public school in the country that dehydrates their own wood.

Along with the wood kiln, the school also owns a Wood-Mizer hydraulic saw which can cut, for example, a six inch slab of wood for a table. The unit is six years old and was purchased with grant money for $36,000.

Another woodworking device the students use is a Striebig panel saw which allows students to make horizontal and vertical cuts in a safe environment without any risk of injury. A grant of $50,000 was used to purchase the unit.

Students also are trained on how to use a device that uses a laser to etch words or designs onto various materials.

According to Hill, students are learning how to make cabinets, tables, etc. and can use those skills to enter the workforce right out of high school.

The Westside Express