Johan West, a home school student attending Sno-Isle Skills Center, is a standout in welding. He is also this week’s Herald Super Kid. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Johan West, a home school student attending Sno-Isle Skills Center, is a standout in welding. He is also this week’s Herald Super Kid. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Monroe homeschooler sharpens his skills in metals classes

EVERETT — Johan West, a homeschool student from Monroe, came to Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center for his senior year to take metals classes and has quickly made his mark as one of the program’s top welders. The 17-year-old gave us a tour of the shop and answered some questions.

Question: So what brought you here?

Answer: I really liked metalwork my whole life, and welding seemed like a good fit.

Q: What kind of metalwork have you done?

A: I like making knives.

Q: How do you do that?

A: You buy a lot of machinery that’s really expensive and watch a lot of YouTube videos. And talk to a lot of other knife makers. … A lot of (the knives I make) are hunting and skinning knives. I like the older style ones, with the nice bone or rosewood handles. They have a nice shine and quality to them.

Q: So you hunt?

A: Yes. I hunt deer, ducks — a lot of things, but those are mainly it. I started hunting when I was 11. That’s when I shot my first deer.

Q: And making knives?

A: I started playing around with that when I was 8. … It basically started with my grandpa. He was a Boeing machinist. He taught me how to weld, and it started from there.

Q: What is it that you like about working with metal in this way?

A: It’s creating something — out of a pile of basically scraps — to make something new and useful.

Q: So what skills are you adding here at Sno-Isle TECH?

A: A lot of welding skills, different types of welding. I’m learning how to fit pipe a little better. … I feel comfortable on all the machines. I know how to work all the machines, so it’s really nice.

Q: What projects have you got going on?

A: At Sno-Isle, I’m playing around with welding aluminum, which is tricky. At home, I’m building my own shop, so I’m not doing too much at home right now.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I hope to go into the welding field and then own my own business as a welder and custom design shop. I might go to Everett Community College, but … I hope to go straight from here into business.

Q: You’ve been homeschooled since kindergarten. What’s it like?

A: It gives me a lot of freedom. Basically I can get my work done at my own schedule and have time for other things.

Q: What else do you do in your free time?

A: I like to go fishing with my brother. That’s always fun. We do a lot of things as a family.

Q: Do you have any advice for a teen just starting high school, whether it’s a regular or nontraditional approach?

A: Definitely go to a trade school. You can still go to college, but if you don’t like college then you at least have a trade to fall back on. It gives you satisfaction to be able to do something with your hands.

Melissa Slager: mslager@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3432.

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