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When you stroll through the AWFS (Association of  Wooworking and Furnishings Suppliers) exhibit hall in Las Vegas, you’ll find impressive lumber-cutting machines.   Huge things that rival your house.  They can mill 8,000 little furniture parts in under 60 seconds, for over-exaggerated example. I’ve seen robotic arms use immense suction to lift 3/4″ thick 4×8 sheets of plywood, swing them up overhead, and set them down on a CNC table that, in turn, cuts out a couple hundred little puzzle-like pieces that get knocked together into rocking chairs (that part’s done by a human) – whamo! Done. Like it’s nobody’s business.

Well, seriously, it is nobody’s business.  From plywood to parts, you don’t need a person to handle the material.  Unbelievable.

It hit me like a ton of bricks: In today’s woodwork manufacturing, you don’t need to be a woodworker to control the machinery . . . on the contrary, you need to be a computer programmer.  It’s like woodworking – ahem, maybe I mean craftsmanship – has nothing to do with it all.

When you walk out of that exhibition hall, and if you’re not zombie-eyed and numb by what you’ve seen inside, you should notice a little kiosk thing in the concourse.  Inside the kiosk are the 50 finalist entries for the 2009 Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition.  Step inside.  It’s cool.  It’s inspiring.  Creativity and innovation come together. You’ll be saying to yourself, “Kids made this stuff?  Well okay, the world’s in good hands then.”

Check these out.  I didn’t get photos of them all, but most.  Beautiful, real hand-crafted woodwork by high school and college students.  I’d bet many of them are computer programmers, but for this competition they had to put the apps away and pick up a chisel.

You can see some more here:


Video with David Ringheim who made one of our favorite pieces in this competition:

AWFS Fresh Wood Student Competition: David Ringheim from CustomMade on Vimeo.

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.

Discussion, Questions & Answers

  • luke

    i am in year 12 and have made my woodwork my teacher is extreamly impressed and said it is the best he has seen I got 24 out of 25 marks and got first. I entred my project in the mid north coast woodworking competition but the teachers did not pick it because it is for my archery equipment and not many people do archery.

    my cabinet is a roll top archery equipment cabinet and I have built it to my specifacation.

    thanks for reading want to contact me call 0438170037

  • LM

    Thank you to the teachers and/or mentors of these kids. Great Job!!!!!!1

  • Larry

    Beautiful work, very impressive

  • KHH

    great stuff,,,imagine how good it will be when they get some experience!!!!!!!


    In every generation, given the opportunity, there are those who create with wonderful craftsmanship and imagination. Be it traveling in space or working with wood.

  • thewoodman

    Awesome work, the future is in good hands.