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Woodworking Contest Update: What to Know About Prizes, Public Show, and Judging

by Mark Stephens | August 24th, 2015

We’re in the midst of hosting a woodworking contest, below are several details for both folks who are registered and those who aren’t. Prizes, a public show for the entries, and how the judging is handled.

The project theme is wall hangings, and it comes due on November 7 – so if you’re registered, I sure hope you’re hard at work building something incredible. The competition is sure to be stiff: as of today, the contest registration is full, which means we have 150 people signed up. For details about the contest rules and guidelines, go here. 

Let’s get to it:


This 14" Oliver Bandsaw is the first prize in our next woodworking contest. Winners announced November 14, 2015 oliver-machinery-logo

First Prize

Oliver 14″ Bandsaw
Value $1,499

This bandsaw has a 12″ resawing capacity, and her 1.5 horses run on 110 volts of juice. If you want to get serious about resawing, this bandsaw is a fantastic choice. It’s street price is $1,499, and it’s a very well reviewed bandsaw, making this the most exciting prize we’ve been able to offer in our woodworking contests. Details about the saw are at the Oliver website here >>>


FES_LOGOSecond Prize

Festool CXS Li Drill
Value $255

The compact drill driver is lightweight and surprisingly powerful. Comes with a hex driver attachment and a keyless chuck, plus two batteries and the charger. Learn more about this drill at Festool here >>>


kregThird Prize

Kreg Large Toolboxx with Filled with Goodies
Value $199.99

Here’s the ultimate Kreg Jig kit. Comes with three of Kregs favorite pocket hole joinery jigs (K3, HD, and Micro), all the drill bits and stop collars, face frame clamp, right angle clamp, and an assortment of screws. Basically: everything a Kreg Jig enthusiast could dream of.

 Other Prizes

We have numerous other prizes such as hand tools, tool bags and hats, that we’ll give away to other entries for honorable mentions.


Public Show for all Entries

Please do plan to come browse all the entries in this contest. You’ll be amazed at the designs, the craftsmanship, and hard work that these woodworkers put into their projects. We’ll open up space in our Phoenix warehouse to showcase all the entries for three days – so everyone is welcome and urged to view the projects – which , in the end, may be as many as 150 custom made projects! You’ll enjoy getting a close up look in person.

When: Thursday Nov. 12 – Saturday Nov. 14, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Where: Woodworkers Source, Phoenix (18115 N. Black Canyon Hwy, Phoenix, Az 85023)


Contest Voting

The contest is judged by the viewing public. And that means anyone who comes to view the entries is encouraged to submit a vote for their favorite entries. But don’t worry — above all we want to host a fun and interesting event, so we’re not asking for a critical review. Instead, the voting ballot just asks for your 5 favorite entries. Which ones appeal to you? It’s as simple as that.

View and vote between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm November 12, 13, or 14.

Online voting may or may not be available, but it is a consideration. TBD.

Expect the ballot to look like this


Awards Ceremony

When: November 14, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Where: Woodworkers Source, Phoenix (18115 N. Black Canyon Hwy, Phoenix, Az 85023)

This is going to be a cool event. I like to think of it as a woodworking art show. All the projects will be on display, we’re providing some hors d’oeuvres and beverages, many of the builders will be there, plus it’ll be your last chance to log a vote for your favorites — and then we’ll announce the winners and pass out prizes.

To clear the air, there will be no vendors peddling drills or sandpaper or any of that business. Instead, this event is about recognizing artwork and the people who build it. It’s not everyday you get to see a collection of over 100 custom made pieces of woodwork under one roof. It’s a unique event and I’d like to keep it that way.

I’d be overjoyed to see you there. In fact, bring your friends and family if you can (and make them cast a vote!) We expect to announce the winners and start passing out prizes around 6:15 pm, as it’ll take some time for us to tally up the votes.

So enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and beverages we’ll provide, peruse the projects, and chat with the other builders.

The Woodworking Contest for Fall 2015: Wall Art

by Mark Stephens | June 9th, 2015

Woodworking Contest: Wall Art
Wall clock with bird marquetry by Jeff Nardoni, Pure Nard Woodworking

See the Public Show

Come to the contest show to see all entries in person and cast your vote for your favorites!
When: November 12-14, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Where: Woodworkers Source Phoenix location

Awards Ceremony

Open to the public! Beverages and hors d'oeurves served, too. Browse the projects and talk with the builders.
When: Saturday November 14, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm -- but expect the announcement of the winners around 6:15 pm.

Contest Full - Registration is Now Closed

Project Deadline: Saturday Nov 7, 2015
Spaces Available: 0 out of 150 left

FREE Entry
Project Theme: Wall Hangings
Project Deadline: November 7, 2015
Reception/Awards Night: November 14, 2015, 6:00 pm
You’ll Get $50:
Every completed project receives a $50 store credit
Prizes: First prize is a 14″ bandsaw from Oliver Machinery. See other prizes here. 

Rules and Guidelines

So what’s a wall hanging? No doubt about it, this theme has a lot of breathing room. Some projects are quite obvious like photo or mirror frames, wall clocks, and display cabinets.

But wall art can be sculpture, abstract art, marquetry and intarsia. Or household luxuries like candle holders, shadow boxes, light fixtures, organizers, wine racks, wall planters and vases.  Get creative and use any decorative techniques you’d like to draw attention your project: consider inlay, carving, sculpting, pyrography, veneering, turning, inclusion of fancy woods etc.

The only constraint is that your project may be no larger than 36″ in width or height, and may not extend from the wall more than 12″.

Let your creativity go wild, but remember this is a woodworking contest. You are welcome to include materials other than wood in your project, however your primary goal should be to demonstrate your skills with wood more than, say, stone or metal.

Space is limited to 100 150 entries. Register now.  Even if you’re not certain you can complete your project by the deadline, please register anyway. You may drop out later if needed. It’s better to register and drop out of the contest than it is to wait to register after the contest is full.

Complete Your Project, Get $50 Store Credit:

All entries receive $50 store credit on November 7 upon project delivery. Yes, you keep your project and we give you $50. However, we keep the projects for one week while we photograph each one and set up the public display.

Prizes and Awards Ceremony

November 14, 2015, 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm

We’ll host an awards ceremony (location to be determined). Prizes will be awarded for the top 3 entries, plus various honorable mention awards.

This contest is sponsored by our vendors Oliver Machinery, Festool and Kreg.

oliver-machinery-logo FES_LOGO kreg

4 Steps to Submit Your Project

  1. Register for the contest at the top of the page. It’s free.
  2. Check your email immediately. You’ll receive confirmation and an entry form you’ll need to fill out with your project.
  3. Pack your project in a box, then deliver it on or before November 7, 2015 to any Woodworkers Source location.
  4. Complete an entry form to deliver with your project

Your project is yours to keep after the contest. You’ll either pick it up at the reception, pick it up at the store you delivered it to, or we’ll ship it back to you. You’ll specify on the entry form.

Size Limit

Your project must be no larger than 36″ x 36″, and it may not extend more than 12″ from the wall. Smaller is okay.

Materials to Use

You do not need to buy your wood from Woodworkers Source in order to enter the contest. Wood is the focus of this project and you may use any wood you’d like, and I encourage you to use something unusual or special. Incorporate other materials if you want, but this is a woodworking contest so your project should emphasize wood.

Does the Project Have to Be New?

I prefer that you enter a project you build specifically for this contest, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. So, if you want to enter a project you have already built, take a close look at it and determine if it needs to be refinished, waxed or polished. If it’s scratched or faded from time and use, do what it takes to refresh it so that it makes the best impression – this is, after all, a contest.


Only one entry per person is allowed. However you may create a series, like this set of wall pots, for your one entry.

Can I Enter More Than One?

One entry per person, please.

However, your one entry can be a series of multiple parts. For example if you make a project like the wall pots on the right, you would enter the series of three as a single entry. The whole series must fit within a 36″ x 36″ space

Since they’re all similar, and since they make a better visual impact as a set, I’ll consider them one entry.

Otherwise, focus on building one project that’s as fantastic as you can make it.


A winning entry will have a fabulous finish. You can use any finishing process that you like; you can use stains, dyes, glazes or any clear wood finish you want. I encourage you give your project the best impression with a well-done finish.

Start your project sooner rather than later to allow yourself plenty of time to get a good finish. It takes time for finishing and staining products to dry between coats, and it takes time to polish your finish to your desired sheen, so give yourself time to do it well.

Project Ideas

Follow Mark Stephens’s board Wood Wall Art and Hangings on Pinterest.

6 Wood Finishes for African Padauk: Which One Is Best?

by Mark Stephens | June 8th, 2015

The vivid orange color of African padauk wood is, yes, 100% natural. And therefore it has a mind of its own. As a project made with African padauk ages, the orange color of the wood usually turns dark – sort of a maroonish brown – and depending on your taste you’ll either find that objectionable or not. Because this change is largely spurred by ultraviolet light, different wood finishes will preserve padauk’s color to different degrees.

So which wood finish works the best? Which one preserves the color the best? Hard to say – but we’ll hand over the evidence and let you be the judge. We tested 6 different wood finishes on African padauk and set the board outside in direct sun light for 21 days. It’s not a long time, but in direct sun light, the change happens quickly. Here’s what happened:

african padauk board with finishes

The Test

Here's how we conducted the finishing test. The board is divided into sections with a shallow groove, then half of each section is finished. The we placed a 2" wide masking strip across the grain to protect a small control area from light, allowing to compare apples to apples. How does the wood change with exposure to light? Do different finishes protect the color better?

Here’s how we conducted the finishing test. The board is divided into sections with a shallow groove, then half of each section is finished. The we placed a 2″ wide masking strip across the grain to protect a small control area from light, allowing us to compare apples to apples. How does the wood change with exposure to light? Do different finishes protect the color better?

To make a good comparison I needed four parts for each of the six finishes, which you can clearly see in the picture on the right, above: a raw section, a finished section, and then a smaller section of both the raw and finished that would be protected from the light for control samples.


See the photo at right.

For these control sections I simply placed a 2″ wide strip of masking tape across each of the six sections. In the end, this allows us to compare each of the six exposed finishes to see how it changes and see how each one may protect the color.

Here’s the process:

  1. Divided the board into six sections by cutting five equally-spaced grooves across the grain
  2. Sanded the entire board to 220 grit to prepare it for finishing
  3. Taped off about half of the width of the entire board (the right side of the board as seen above)
  4. Applied 2 coats of each finish, allowed them to dry
  5. Placed a 2″ wide masking tape strip across each section to create the controls
  6. Placed board outside in bright, direct sunlight

Conclusion: Best Wood Finish for African Padauk?

  1. Clear dewaxed shellac preserved the orange color the most in a comparison among these six samples. Basically, the section that’s finished with shellac and exposed to light is brightest of these six.
  2. Tung oil, interestingly, makes the wood pretty dark immediately upon application but it also showed the least amount of change during the 21-day light exposure test.

Is this definitive? No. This is just one test of six finishes – there’s certainly more to be done! But the one lesson to learn here is your project will retain the orange color much longer if you can keep it out of direct light.

See for yourself. Here’s a better look at how each finish behaved in this test. Click the photos to zoom in.