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“Hopi Dish” by Greg Smentek won 5th place

The art and science of woodworking consists of skills and knowledge that neither you nor I will ever totally master. There’s a lot to know about sticking two pieces of wood together! 

However . . . we can share what we know and learn from one another. Putting some projects on display for everyone to share, enjoy, and learn from is just one reason for this contest.

We landed on the topic of “Platters, Trays & Trivets”  as a project with a vast number of ways to interpret the design, function, and size. Yet, it’s a project that can be as simple or sophisticated as you like. Either way, it’s a project that goes into your kitchen to help make your home a warmer one with some handcrafted functional artwork.

A grand total of 169 amazing projects got entered, and what you’ll see below is just the top 10 voted ones. (We’ll post all the others in short order.)  If you came to the show to view them, I hope you’re as impressed as I was by the vast and impressive amount of creativity that went into all the projects.  Everyone who participated really deserves some recognition because it takes a lot of  courage to craft a project and put it out there to share with others. 

Congratulations to the builders of these fine projects. (See the gallery of 20 “Honorable Mention” awards here)

– Mark

How Did The Voting Work?


Voting, Not Judging

Voting is open to anyone who comes to browse the projects in person

Pick 5

The vote ballot simply asks for your personal favorite 5 projects. You decide what you like for your own reasons

Rank By Count

We add up the number of votes for each project, and sort them for the top 10 voted projects

1st Place* (see bottom)
“Tray Table” by Leo Litto

Featuring the hallmarks of Danish Modern Design such as splayed legs, curves, and blended joints, Leo built this for his father artist Frank Litto. He tells us, “It seemed the cruelest irony that a man whose entire life was spent on aesthetic pursuits should have to pass his final chapter bedridden and surrounded by the hideous plastic and metal contraptions provided by Medicare. I learned much of what I know about woodworking from him, and my grandfather who was a violin maker.” 

Genuine mahogany, pomelle sapele, maple, walnut, Baltic birch

2nd Place:
“Relax & Unwine” by Phil Crawford

Inspired by a design he discovered on Pinterest, Phil modified it so it could hold most types of wine glasses including champagne flutes. Get a close look. He employed a lot of different techniques to create this masterpiece: turning, template routing, bent lamination, and more. The zebrawood tray is removable and the center will hold larger wine bottles. 

Sapele, purple heart, maple, zebrawood

3rd Place
“Platter” by Robert Cordelli

This piece is unusual for it’s tapered and angled laminations. They’re tricky to pull off, but the visual result is impressive. 

Maple, lacewood, purple hearts, tigerwood, black and yellow veneer

4th Place
ACME Cheese Tray by Dawn Martin

A 3-dimensional mouse trap intarsia piece is an unusual take on a food serving platter. Maybe you should think twice before reaching for one last treat . . .  

Maple, padauk, merbaue, walnut, mahogany, cherry, yellowheart

5th Place
“Hopi Dish” by Greg Smentek

Extraordinarily complex with seemingly random, non-repeating designs circling a figured maple dish. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s also flawlessly finished.

Curly maple, ebony, purple hearts, quilted maple, leopardwood 

6th Place
“Stylized Arizona Flag Tray” by Eric Larsen

Giving a good old fashioned nod to the Copper State’s flag, this tray is further set apart with fine details like the curved edges and s-shaped handles. 

Maple, bocote, cherry, padauk, zebrawood

7th Place
“Burl Fruit Platter” by Robert Swanson

There’s nothing quite like just a chunk of tree fashioned into a useful product – just like this large maple burl. The dish was shaped with an angle grinder, then polished to perfection. 

Maple burl

8th Place
“Swirling Bowl” by Paul Darnell

Paul admits that this was quite challenging and a test of patience. It takes many steps to create the blank before it can be turned. But it pays off because when you look at it, you’ll wonder, “How did he do that?”

Maple, padauk, and others

9th Place
“3D Serving Board w/ Stand” by Rick West

3D patterns weren’t too unusual in this contest, but Rick’s version stood out to many of the voters. His patience and attention to precision paid off in creating a very beautiful board. But he also had the designer’s eye to shape a nice sloped curve on the underside of both ends for easier handling. He also made his own display stand to go with it.

Mesquite, sycamore, sapele 

10th Place
“Segmented Platter” by Bill Engelstad

Bill clearly thrives on a good challenge. If you could see this project up close you’ll be amazed by the perfect joints he made to craft this segmented platter. 

Cherry, maple, bloodwood



The Real 1st Place
“The Heck With Tea, It’s Wine time” by John Porter

The voting system is a blind one, meaning the builder’s names are not visible on the project tags while voting is open. So we say that this makes it reasonably fair for allowing woodworkers of all ilk to enter a project, including our employees. But we do understand that could stir some trouble. The unwritten rule in the code of ethics around here is in the event that a project by an employee of Woodworkers Source earns enough votes to place among the top entries it’ll be 100% recognized . . . but prizes will be awarded to the next highest voted entry.

With that, one project snatched a mere 5 votes more than Leo Litto’s Tray Table and it was an employee’s project. Once you see the project, I think you’ll agree it certainly does deserve a place in this list.

Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Woodworkers Source is a division of MacBeath Hardwood Co.

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