“There’s nothing like sitting on the chair you’ve built.”

Casey Herfuth likes a good challenge and loves working with hands. So, when the Grade 11 student at Preston High School (PHS) was offered a co-op placement at Steel and Timber Designs in Cambridge, he jumped at the opportunity.

He earned high school credits, while gaining practical skills and experience. When we spoke to him, Casey was building a maple table-top straight from freshly-harvested slabs of timber.

“There’s a lot that goes into creating a table,” he said. “I’ve been involved in every step of the process. I started by using different saws to cut the timber into the right shape, planing and joining the pieces and then sanding everything smooth. Eventually we’ll varnish the table and get it ready for the legs.”

Casey began building his skills by taking woodworking classes at PHS, but his placement is giving him a much more in-depth understanding of the trade.

“I want to learn all aspects of woodworking, from harvesting the timber, designing the pieces and making furniture. There’s nothing like sitting on the chair you built.”

Sean White, the owner of Steel and Timber Designs, is a nuclear engineer by training but has long had a passion for woodworking. The joy and satisfaction he gets from the trade is something he wants to instill in others. He knows that to do so, he and other craftsmen will need to invest in the future generation.

“We’re having a hard time finding qualified woodworkers. It is a bit specialized, but there’s such a demand for this type of work that we’re willing to train people who, like Casey, know the basics of the craft,” said Sean. “That’s why I wanted to give him the chance to do things beyond what he would likely be able to do in shop class.”

For Casey, that means having the freedom to try new things.

“I like taking ownership of a project, from design to build, and then seeing the finished product. But I also realize there’s lots to learn yet, and there’s a whole pile of what is now firewood that proves it.”

A small price to pay for Casey’s future and Sean’s trade.

Co-operative Education in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB)

Co-operative Education placements give students a hands-on way to explore careers in fields as diverse as child care, law, computer programming and the trades. Students, parents and caregivers can learn about these opportunities by speaking with the Guidance Counsellor at your high school.

Pathways to Success

Visit the Pathways to Success website for information on:


If you’re someone who wants to help a student explore a career in your field, contact:
Kim Keena, Experiential and Co-operative Education Lead
Waterloo Region District School Board
519-570-0003 (extension 4443)