AWFS 2013 Beyond the Products: Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition and Other Activities

One of the must-see parts of the AWFS show each year for me is the Fresh Wood Student Competition. The biennial event attracted 130 entries from 36 different high schools and colleges in the United States and Canada.

Judges reviewed the projects of 40 finalists. Twenty-three students went home with monetary prizes ranging from $425 to $1,200. First Place winners in each category and at each school level received a $1,025 prize, Second Place winners received $625 and Honorable Mention winners received $425. AWFS covers project shipping and most of the travel and hotel costs for the students and their teachers.

Guitars were a big theme in this year’s show. You can thank a teacher for that angle as several high school shop teachers have introduced guitar making into their curriculum with the results on display at this year’s competition.

Mollie Ferguson, a student at College of the Redwoods, won The Best of Show Award for her chair Dulcius Ex Asperis. She received $1,200 and a Rikon 14″ Bandsaw. She also received First Place in the Post Secondary Chairs category of the competition, which included another $1,025 prize and a Certificate of Merit.

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So without further ado, here is a sampling of projects from the show with Molly’s chair leading the way:

First Place Post-Secondary: Chairs
Dulcius Ex Asperis
Kwila, leather
Molly Ferguson
College of the Redwoods
Fort Bragg, CA
Inspired by Kaare Klint’s Danish modern deck chair. Solid kwila, bent laminations with mortise and tenon joinery.
High School Level Second Place: Chair
Tiger maple veneer and solids, leather
Gurleen Singh
Fletcher’s Meadow High School
Inspired by a bridge arch design. Made with Baltic birch ply and book matched tiger maple veneer.
Saitama Cabinet
Black Walnut, Cherry
Michael Vander Schaaf
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
Inspired by a trip to Saitama, Japan. Traditional mortise and tenon joinery with soji screen sliding doors.
First Place Post Secondary: Production/Contract
Cedar / powder coated metal
Alexis Kiel
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS
Designed as a stackable, outdoor chair for mass production.
albero all’interno
Internal Tree Coffee Table
Single Cherry Slab
Jennifer Siggard
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT
A dovetailed coffee table with an incised, hand carved tree form.
Post-Secondary Level Second Place: Tables
Holly Veneer and solids, baltic birch
Marc Cutonilli
Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
Rockport, ME
Inspired by the builders first sight of a soaring bald eagle. Note the stepped sides on the leg.
Curved Clock
Mahogany, Corian, Metal
Carrie Etherington
Bringham Young University
Provo, UT
A modern take on the classic grandfather clock made from a single plank of mahogany using bent laminations.
Post-Secondary Level Second Place: Chairs
Low Rocker
Walnut, leather
Darrik Rasmussen
College of the Redwoods
Fort Bragg, CA
An exercise in non-ninety degree joinery, the chair splays 3-degrees top to bottom and side to side for visual elegance and stability.
Tage Frid Three-Legged Music Chair
John Berry
Palomar College
San Marcos, CA
Inspired by Tage Frid’s famous stool design.
First Place Post Secondary: Reproduction
Vidar’s Chairs
White Oak, Fiber Rush
Ben Cooper
College of the Redwoods
Fort Bragg, CA
A reproduction of a 1970 chair design by Vidar Malmsten, a furniture maker and friend of James Krenov.
Post-secondary Level Second Place: Reproduction
Shaker Blanket Chest
Cole Burch
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
A classic reproduction chest with hand cut dovetail joinery.
Cow Horn Chairs
Rossel Berard
Rosemount Technology Centre
Montreal, Quebec
Now this is fun. Inspired by Hans Wegner’s Cow Horn Chairs.
First Place Post Secondary: Open
Derek Ott
Palomar College
San Marcos, CA
This is a beautifully crafted instrument waiting to be played.
High School Level First Place: Open
Jimi Hendrix Acoustic Guitar
Casey Mervin
Brighton High School
Cottonwood Heights, UT
See Jimmy peeking out from behind? This is amazing work and from a high school level student!
High School Level Second Place: OpenThe Tree Between
Chase Shutt
Brighton High School
Cottonwood, UT
Built as a personal challenge to create a double neck acoustic guitar.
High School Level First Place: Reproduction
George Nelson ‘Turbine’ Clock
Derek Carlson
Lincoln East High School
Lincoln, NE
Inspired by George Nelson’s famous Turbine Clock and features 60-turbine blade shaped slats of walnut.
High School Level First Place: Chairs
Keep On Rockin’
Bending Ply
Justin Chin
Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School
Brampton, ON
I really wanted to sit in this chair. I think it might have killed me.
High School Level Second Place: Tables
Wrapped Walnut
Kristoffer Edlund
Brighton High School
Cottonwood Heights, UT
This couldn’t have been easy to put together.
Post-Secondary Level Honorable Mention
Les Paul Electric Purple Heart Guitar
Ed McCravy
Palomar College
San Marcos, CA
Post-Secondary Level Honorable Mention
Greg Laird
College of the Redwoods
Fort Bragg, CA
Simple elegance.
High School Level Honorable Mention: Tables
Three Way Drop
Figured maple, walnut solids and veneer
Onkar Nagra
Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School
Brampton, Ontario
A great design well executed. The goal was to make the solid wood legs look like they were part of the walnut veneer swirl on the top.


AWFS is host to the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial. It’s a three day competition that features three highly skilled cabinetmaking students squaring off to build a specific project designed to challenge their skills. It is no small matter to appear at this competition. Corporate sponsors join with educators to put on hundreds of local competitions all over the country that result in three people advancing to the trials at the AWFS show. The winner represents the United States at the 2015 WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paolo, Brazil.Jacob Wozniak, a graduate of Cattaraugus-Allegheny BOCES in Ellicottville, New York, 2013 was this year’s winner. Since graduation, Wozniak has been working at a cabinet shop and also making cabinets for his own customers. He spends all of his free time in his shop and says woodworking is his passion.The other two competitors were Caleb Floyd and Brett Sidesinger. Caleb graduated from Warner Robins High School in Kathleen, Georgia in 2012. He’ has been working in automotive refinishing with his father, and running his own lawn business with hopes of finding a job at a local cabinet shop.Brett graduated from Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka, Kansas with a certificate in Cabinetmaking and Millwork Technology. He is currently finishing his AA degree and working in a cabinet shop.Wozniak went home with a Kreg router table, a Festool Power Miter Box and other Festool items. His school received a General International Mortiser. Other prizes included Lee Valley gift certificates, Bosch sanders and drills, a GREX pin nailer and went to all three competitors.Congratulations to all three competitors!


I found the Woody Cruiser parked at the Rikon booth. The wood frame bike is designed and built by Chris Conner, owner of Connor Wood Bicycles, Denver, CO.
The bike boasts an ash wood framed with walnut accents, coaster brakes, two speed internal gear hub and 29-inch wheels. Chris also builds the Woody Scorcher that sports a Gates carbon fiber belt drive and disc brakes. The bikes come in three sizes, small, medium and large, with upgrade options such as sweepback handlebars and multi-gear hubs available. Prices start at around $


Here’s an open class belt sander racer on display before the races. There are two classes at the races this year, Open and Stock. The open class allows customization and tuning while the stock class features stock belt sanders.
I found this beast standing guard over the belt sander race track and stands.I hope this brief look at AWFS gives you a taste of all the things offered at the fair beyond the amazing array of woodworking equipment and supplies.In addition to the races, cool products, competitions and shows, the fair features some educational seminars ranging from CAD design to chair making. So if you think AWFS is just a trade show for manufacturers, think again. Give it a shot in 2015. There’s a lot to see and do at the fair.Click here to learn more:

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