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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

Register Now - Limited Space

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Project Deadline: Saturday Nov 7, 2015
Spaces Available: 12 out of 100 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: Woodworking tool packages valued $500 for first place, $300 second place, $100 third place

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 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, 6:00 pm to 7:00 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.

  • First Place: $500 package of woodworking tools
  • Second Place: $300 package of woodworking tools
  • Third Place: $100 package of woodworking tools
  • Honorable mentions: Various woodworking tools/supplies

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.

wood-wall-pots-multi

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.

Finishing

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.

How to Get a Beautiful Wood Finish on Your Tropical Walnut Woodworking Projects

by Mark Stephens | May 26th, 2015

Tropical walnut might be a new wood to you, and that’s okay. This is a type of walnut that grows in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, and happens to be a close relative of American black walnut. The two woods have similar color, hardness, and general working characteristics – they’re both rather nice hardwoods to machine with power tools and shape with hand tools.

They have their differences, too. More about Tropical Walnut >>>

Tropical walnut has much more straight grain and less curly/swirly and irregular character. And it also rarely includes any pale sapwood in the lumber, which is unlike American black walnut. It’s increasingly more common for American black walnut lumber to have a fair percentage of light sapwood. That’s not to say one is better than the other; it just depends on your tastes, so we’re here to empower you with some on-the-ground facts about the material. If you like the dark color found in walnut and prefer a consistent straight grain and no pale sapwood, Tropical Walnut might be a good wood for you to try.

The video above will show you a couple of machining operations to give you an idea of how nicely this wood works, but it also demonstrates in detail the specifics of applying two kinds of grain filler and top coat. But here’s a summary of the finishing techniques.

Consider Filling the Grain

Using the basic, simple wood finishes on Tropical Walnut is a piece of cake. You can apply your favorite polyurethane, lacquer, shellac, or water-based top coat and there’s a good chance you’ll be happy. The wood darkens nicely and you’ll see a bit of the natural contrast pop out a bit. But you can improve both of these by filling the wood grain first.

Of course, you’re the builder and it’s your project. You get to choose what you like best, and the glass-smooth finish you get with a well-filled grain isn’t always the look you want. But it’s a good idea to fill grain for projects like table tops and desk tops, or in any finish in which you’re going for a glossy sheen. Grain filler also adds a little bit of dark color to the wood pores, and that results in slightly greater contrast and visual depth in the wood.

Fill the grain one of two ways:

  1. Apply a drying oil using a technique called wet sanding. This method mixes the wood dust with the oil to create a paste that fills in the pores. See a demonstration in the video above.
  2. Buy a grain filler in a can. Numerous types exist, but all are either solvent- or water-based and require slightly different techniques for applying them. Oil based grain filler is demonstrated in the video above.

In all of these cases they’re pretty easy to apply but they do add more time to your finishing process. Of course, good things come to those who put in the time. Take a look.

Click the images to zoom in.

tropical walnut finishes

Simple wood finishes look great on Tropical Walnut – frankly they all provide just about the same look, there’s no single best choice. Left to right: wipe-on gel polyurethane, satin lacquer, waterbased acrylic. The horizontal board on top is unfinished so you can see the comparison.

With a little side light, you can see how these basic finishes don't fill the grain. The dark spots you see are wood pores. Sometimes this kind of finish is just fine. Sometimes it's not.

Yes, there’s glare but that’s on purpose. With a little side light, you can see how these basic finishes don’t fill the grain. The dark spots you see are wood pores. Sometimes this kind of finish is just fine. Other times it’s not and filling the grain helps you achieve a very smooth finish.

Now compare. Both boards have 3 coats of satin lacquer. The difference should be obvious. The board on the left has not had the grain filled, whereas the grain in the board on the right was filled before the lacquer was applied.

Now compare. Both boards have 3 coats of satin lacquer. The difference should be obvious. The board on the left has not had the grain filled, whereas the grain in the board on the right was filled before the lacquer was applied.

This is Tropical Walnut with a nicely filled wood grain and a top finish of 3 coats of spray lacquer. But any film-forming finish can go on top. Shellac, wax, polyurethane, varnish, etc

This is Tropical Walnut with a nicely filled wood grain and a top finish of 3 coats of spray lacquer. But any film-forming finish can go on top. Shellac, wax, polyurethane, varnish, etc