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1011 Building with Wood and Metal

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,011 – Building with Wood and Metal.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,011. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast. You can also take a look on our website at our ESL Podcast Store, as well as our ESL Podcast Blog, where we give you additional free English lessons every week. Just visit our website.

This episode is a dialogue between Hugo and Shawna about building things with wood and metal. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Hugo: Wow, when you said that you did some woodworking on the weekends, I thought you meant refinishing furniture. But this! This is a real workshop and you’re actually building furniture.

Shawna: Yeah, this is what I’m working on right now. I’m building a dining table and chairs.

Hugo: The grain is beautiful on this piece of hardwood. It certainly looks better than the plywood furniture I have in my house. What is all this?

Shawna: Just some basic tools: saws, chisels, and drills.

Hugo: And what is all this metal for?

Shawna: I’m adding some grillwork for the back of the chairs. I don’t usually do metalwork, but I’m keeping it simple.

Hugo: This doesn’t look simple. These pieces have been welded together, and is that used for soldering?

Shawna: You got it. When all is said and done, I’ll have a new dining room set with a large table and eight chairs.

Hugo: Wow, I’m impressed.

Shawna: Want to try your hand at it?

Hugo: No thanks. You see these 10 fingers? I’m rather fond of them.

[end of dialogue]

This episode is all about building things. We begin with Hugo saying to Shawna, “Wow, when you said you did some woodworking on the weekends, I thought you meant refinishing furniture.” “Wow” is an expression of surprise. Hugo is surprised when he sees what Shawna is doing.

Shawna is doing some “woodworking.” “Woodworking” is making things out of wood, the material. “Wood,” of course, comes from trees. You cut the tree down in order to get the wood that you use to build things with. Shawna is interested in woodworking, and she does it on the weekends – on Saturdays and Sundays.

Hugo thought that Shawna had been “refinishing furniture.” “To refinish” furniture is just to make the surface or outside of the furniture look more beautiful – to do something to the wood in order to make it look better. This is very different than actually building something, of course. What Shawna has been doing is building things, not just changing their appearance on the outside.

Hugo says, “But this! This is a real workshop and you’re actually building furniture.” A “workshop” is a large room where people do work, especially physical things like building furniture or repairing motors. The term “workshop” is also now used in other situations where we’re talking about an area or a place where everyone is working on the same thing.

Sometimes we use this word for a type of meeting, a type of educational meeting where everyone gets together and learns something new or applies the knowledge that they have to make something. It may not be something physical, however. Here it is something physical. It’s furniture made out of wood.

Shawna says, “Yeah, this is what I’m working on right now. I’m building a dining table and chairs.” A “dining (dining) table” is a table that you would put in a large room in your house, and you would eat at that table. It’s the table you would use for eating. “To dine” (dine) means to eat. Shawna is working on a dining table and chairs.

Hugo says, “The grain is beautiful on this piece of hardwood.” “Grain” (grain), when we’re talking about wood, refers to the lines and the patterns on the surface of a piece of wood. If you look at a piece of wood that has been cut from a tree, you will see that there are lines in the wood. These lines are called the “grain” of the wood.

“Hardwood” is a special kind of wood that is very heavy, that is typically used for making houses, for example, or constructing things that you need to be very solid, to be very stable. We use hardwood very commonly in houses for the floors of the house. My house, for example, has “hardwood flooring,” meaning there are pieces of wood that you walk on. Now of course most floors are made of some kind of wood. “Hardwood” is a special kind of wood that is, well, very hard.

Hugo says, “It certainly looks better than the plywood furniture I have in my house.” “Plywood” (plywood) is a cheap – that is to say, inexpensive – board that is made from a flat piece of wood. Usually it’s used by gluing different wood materials together. Plywood is not very strong. It’s not very hard. It’s used often in order to save money because it’s inexpensive.

It was very popular in the 1960s and ’70s for people to put plywood on the walls of their rooms inside of their houses so you wouldn’t be painting your walls – you would have this wood. In my house where I grew up, in the basement (in the bottom part of the house) we had plywood on the walls. That was very popular in the 1970s. It’s not as popular anymore today.

Hugo says his furniture is made from this cheap wood. Then he asks, “What is all this?” He’s obviously looking at or pointing to something. Shawna says, “Just some basic tools: saws, chisels, and drills.” “Tools” are instruments you use in order to make something. A “saw” (saw) is a tool that is used to cut wood. It has little sharp points on it – what we call “teeth,” just like the teeth in your mouth.

A “chisel” (chisel) is a long tool that has a sharp end on it. Usually it’s made of metal. We use a chisel to remove small sections of the wood. A sculptor, such as Michelangelo, uses a chisel in order to remove pieces of marble or stone in order to make the sculpture. Here, we’re talking about a wood chisel, not a chisel used with a very hard rock such as marble.

A “drill” (drill) is a tool that puts a hole into something – in this case, into a piece of wood. The verb “to drill” can mean to put a hole into something like wood. It can also mean to practice something over and over again. If you play basketball, or any sport, your coach probably has you do certain “drills” – certain exercises – over and over again. We also use this verb sometimes in school when we give students things to practice over and over again, often used with things that teachers want students to memorize.

Hugo then asks Shawna, “And what is all this metal for?” “Metal” (metal) is something like steel, iron, silver, gold, copper, brass – all of these are examples of metals. Shawna then explains, “I’m adding some grillwork for the back of the chairs.” “Grillwork” (grillwork) here refers to metal bars or wires that cross each other in order to make a flat surface. So, the back of the chair is actually going to have this grillwork on it. The grillwork will be used basically as the back of the chair.

A chair has three parts. It has a seat, where you sit on – where you put your behind on, or your “butt,” we would say informally, on. It has legs that are on the ground, or that are placed on the ground, and it has a back, typically, where you can lean back on. You can put the back of your body on the back of the chair. This chair is going to have grillwork made of metal on it, which doesn’t sound very comfortable to me, but it’s not my chair.

Shawna says, “I usually don’t do metalwork” – that is, she usually doesn’t work with metal. Hugo says, “This doesn’t look simple.” It does not look simple. “These pieces have been welded together, and is that used for soldering?” Hugo is looking at the metal grillwork and saying that different pieces appear to have been “welded (welded) together.”

“To weld” means to join two pieces of metal by making them very hot, so that they are able to be connected so that when they are cool, they are then permanently connected. “Solder” (solder) – the “L” is silent – is a material that you use to connect two pieces of metal together that might be difficult to connect directly using welding. Solder is a soft material that you heat up, and when you heat it up, it melts, and then when it cools down, it stays solid, and that’s how you connect the two pieces of metal.

Shawna says, “You got it,” meaning that’s correct. “When all is said and done, I’ll have a new dining room set with a large table and eight chairs.” “When all is said and done” means eventually – in the end. This expression is often used when we are trying to give a summary, say, of a story, or when we are trying to tell someone the final result of something without giving them all the details.

Hugo says, “Wow, I’m impressed.” “To be impressed” means that you really think it’s wonderful. You are really surprised at something in a good way. Shawna says, “Want to try your hand at it?” “To try your hand at” something means to try to do something for the first time, especially if it is difficult and if you don’t have very much experience doing it.

Hugo says, “No, thanks. You see these 10 fingers? I’m rather fond of them.” “To say you are fond (fond) of” something means you like something. You think something is good and interesting. It’s an expression that you still hear in conversational English, although it isn’t as common now perhaps as it was 50 years ago.

Hugo says he’s “rather fond of” his fingers. “Rather” here means “very.” Why does he say this? Well, because he is saying that if he tries to do what Shawna does, he may cut off one of his fingers, and because he’s “fond of his fingers” – that is, he likes his fingers – he doesn’t want to try his hand at woodworking or at metalwork.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Hugo: Wow, when you said that you did some woodworking on the weekends, I thought you meant refinishing furniture. But this! This is a real workshop and you’re actually building furniture.

Shawna: Yeah, this is what I’m working on right now. I’m building a dining table and chairs.

Hugo: The grain is beautiful on this piece of hardwood. It certainly looks better than the plywood furniture I have in my house. What is all this?

Shawna: Just some basic tools: saws, chisels, and drills.

Hugo: And what is all this metal for?

Shawna: I’m adding some grillwork for the back of the chairs. I don’t usually do metalwork, but I’m keeping it simple.

Hugo: This doesn’t look simple. These pieces have been welded together, and is that used for soldering?

Shawna: You got it. When all is said and done, I’ll have a new dining room set with a large table and eight chairs.

Hugo: Wow, I’m impressed.

Shawna: Want to try your hand at it?

Hugo: No thanks. You see these 10 fingers? I’m rather fond of them.

[end of dialogue]

We are very fond of the wonderful scripts here on ESL Podcast, written by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
woodworking – the art and skill of making objects from wood

* Jane wants to learn more about woodworking so that she can build simple musical instruments.

to refinish – to give a new, more beautiful surface to a piece of furniture

* This furniture has been painted many times, but I bet the wood is beautiful underneath. All we have to do is remove the paint and refinish it.

workshop – a large room where work is done, especially where things are built

* Bryan is a sculptor, so he converted his garage into a workshop where he can keep all his materials.

grain – the lines and patterns on the surface of a cut piece of wood

* Because there are natural variations in the grain of the wood, each tabletop is unique.

hardwood – heavy, compact (tight) wood from trees with broad (wide) leaves, often used for construction

* Oak and ash are beautiful, but I think beech is my favorite hardwood.

plywood – an inexpensive, but strong board (a flat piece of wood) made by gluing together layers of wood

* The children are making a tree house out of plywood.

saw – a tool with a handle and sharp teeth along one side of a piece of metal used to cut wood

* In the past, it would take men hours to cut down a large tree with a handheld saw, but now chainsaws can do the work in just minutes.

chisel – a long tool with a handle at one end and a sharp, angled metal piece at the other end, used to shape wood or stone by cutting away small pieces

* Sometimes the best way to open a can of paint is to use a chisel against the edge of the lid.

drill – an electric tool used to put a hole into a piece of wood or metal, or a wall

* Lyle used a drill to put a small hole in the wall before he tried to insert the screw.



metal – a solid, hard, and shiny material like steel, iron, silver, gold, copper, brass, and more

* I prefer a metal water bottle over a plastic one.

grillwork – metal bars or wires that cross each other to make a flat surface, either in a grid (lines crossing each other with regular spacing) pattern or in an artistic design

* This neighborhood has a lot of crime, so many of the windows are covered with grillwork to prevent people from breaking in.

metalwork – the art and skill of making objects from metal

* Did you notice all the metalwork on the car’s exterior?

to weld – to join two pieces of metal by making them very hot so that they begin to melt and pushing them together

* The screwdriver broke into two pieces. Can you fix it by welding them back together?

to solder – to join two pieces of metal by melting a soft metal and applying it over the ends of the two pieces

* Soldering computer circuits is a very delicate job that requires steady hands.

when all is said and done – eventually; ultimately; in the end; to make a long story short

* There are a lot of papers to sign, but when all is said and done, you’ll be the owners of a new home.

to try (one’s) hand at (something) – to try to do something for the first time, especially if it is difficult and challenging and one has little or no experience related to it

* Have you ever tried your hand at sewing?

fond of – liking something; attracted to something; thinking that something is good, worthwhile, interesting, and worth keeping or protecting

* The Carlsons asked us to watch their cat while they were out of town, but we grew fond of it and now we don’t want to give it back to them.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these tools are used to cut wood?
a) Saws
b) Chisels
c) Drills

2. What does Shawna mean when she asks, “Want to try your hand at it?”
a) Do you want to buy some of the furniture?
b) Do you want to try to make some furniture?
c) Do you want to paint some of the furniture?

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
grain

The word “grain,” in this podcast, means the lines and patterns on the surface of a cut piece of wood: “It’s impossible to know what the grain will look like before you cut into a piece of wood.” The word “grain” also refers to many types of food that are the seeds of grass-like crops: “The doctor recommended eating more whole grains, like wheat, rye, and barley.” A “grain” can also be a very small piece of something: “The lid fell off of the salt shaker, leaving grains of salt all over the table.” Finally, “a grain of truth” is a very small amount of truth mixed in with lies or fiction: “The book is fiction, but it has a few grains of truth.”

to try (one’s) hand at

In this podcast, the phrase “to try (one’s) hand at (something)” means to try to do something for the first time, especially if it is difficult and challenging and one has little or no experience related to it: “I’d like to try my hand at sailing, but I don’t know anyone with a sailboat.” The phrase “in good hands” means cared for and safe: “This is the best surgeon in the country, so you’ll be in good hands.” The phrase “to have a hand in (something)” mean to be involved in something or to participate in something: “Did you have a hand in planning this surprise party?” Finally, the phrase “to have (one’s) hands full” means to be very busy: “Sheila has her hands full taking care of her twins. I doubt she has time to volunteer for our organization.”

Culture Note
Protecting the Biggest Trees

American Forests is a nonprofit organization that has a “National Big Tree Program” that locates and protects the biggest trees in the United States. The organization “keeps” (maintains) a “registry” (a list) of 786 of the largest “specimens” (individuals; samples) for hundreds of species or types of trees throughout the United States. The organization calculates a total number of points for each tree as the “sum” (addition) of the tree’s “circumference” (distance around the “trunk” (the vertical, wooden part of the tree)), the height, and one-fourth of the “crown spread” (the distance from one edge of the leafy parts to the other).

The “giant sequoias” of northern California are considered the biggest trees in the United States. The General Sherman Tree is the largest known tree on Earth by “volume” (total area occupied by the tree). It is 275 feet (83.8 meters) tall, with a trunk “diameter” (the distance across a circle) of 25 feet (7.7 meters) and is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.

The Hyperion Tree is the tallest tree in the world. It is a “coast redwood” that “towers” (is much taller than other objects) over the forest at 379.3 feet (115.61 meters) tall and may be 700-800 years old.

But the size of a tree is not always “correlated with” (moving in the same direction as) age. The oldest individual tree in the world is a Great Basin bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California, and is believed to be 5,062 years old. But people have found “clonal trees” (trees that are connected and grow from a single “ancestor” (an older individual in the same family) that are even older.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b