First, thank you for the many fine articles you sent in for our End Grain contest – I had the pleasure of reading more than 250 funny, poignant and/or philosophical tales of woodworking. And while I enjoyed every one of them, it did make for a difficult job in selecting winners.
I read each entry carefully, then made a first cut based on a number of factors. My first consideration was the length of the piece (our call for entries stipulated 525 words or so). Some were simply too short; others were far too long. Less than 450 words and I set a piece aside; more than 625 – gone. Some of these too short/too long pieces were truly inspired; they simply wouldn’t fit the space.
Next, I evaluated the topic. Did it fit in well with a woodworking magazine that mostly investigates tools, techniques and methods for building furniture for the home and shop? If not, did the subject have enough appeal that it would speak to those interested in the above? And finally, was the topic something that’s been covered in the column in the past three years or so, but without a significantly different “spin?” In other words, if a piece seemed too familiar, or too far off base, it didn’t make my first cut.
Last, I evaluated the writing (though not as closely as I would a freshman English paper – if the topic was solid and the approach was intriguing, I passed it along. Grammar, spelling, sentence structure and organization can all be easily addressed if the topic and approach merit the work).
So out of the 250 or so entries, I selected approximately 40 to pass around to all the editors for comment. We each jotted a “yes,” “no” or “maybe” (and in a couple instances, our highest praise: “doesn’t completely suck”), then we gathered around our trestle table to hash it out. The grand-prize winning entry was fairly easy to select – it was the only one that garnered a “yes” (and one “doesn’t completely suck”) from every editor on staff (Matthew Teague, Robert W. Lang, Steve Shanesy and me).
If a piece earned a yes from two of the four editors, it made the second cut. That got us down to 15 or so. So we pulled the ones that got two yeses and two nos, which left articles than received at least two yeses and one maybe. We were down to seven, including the grand-prize winner. Done. Though we intended to have no more than five winners, we couldn’t decide which two of those seven to cut. So I’m delighted that we’re now well stocked on End Grains for a while.
All the winners will be paid for their articles ($275 for the text, plus $75 if the author can supply an appropriate photo). And the grand-prize winner also gets a brand-new DeWalt DC012 worksite radio with a built-in charger, iPod/MP3 ports and more! Without further ado (and in no particular order other than the grand-prize winner) here are the winners (whom I’ll be contacting shortly):
• Grand Prize: Scot O’Shea, for “Justin’s Chair,” his story of helping a friend’s son build a stool
• Alan Foljambe, for “Nothing is Absolute,” about industrialization versus the pre-powered world (you’ll find this one in the June 2012 issue)
• Glen Hart, for “Now You’re Tuning by Ear,” his thoughts on whether or not working to specific dimensions creates a true work of art
• W. Paul Olsen, for “My Workbench,” which is…you guessed it…about his workbench
• Mike Hudson, for “It’s Time,” about his life-long fascination with mechanical time devices
• Peter Franks, for “Someone Stop Me!”, which delves into his “compulsive mistake identification”
• Wilbur Pan, for “Woodworking and the Art of Growing Up with Zen,” which discusses philosophy in woodworking
Congratulations to the winners, and, again, thank you to everyone who participated.