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It was a great year for the Popular Woodworking Excellence Awards! Our readers never fail to impress with their skill and creativity, and 2018 was no exception. Check out all our winners, including Gwen Feher’s “Mixologist Briefcase” which won first place in our new Best Beginners category.

Categories:

Editor’s Choice
Reader’s Choice

Casework, Cabinets and Bookcases
Tables
Seating
Boxes and Small Items
Best Beginners

Editor’s Choice

Sheraton Tea Caddy
12″ x 9″ x 8″

William Francis Brown
Forest, Virginia

The grand prize goes to William Brown for his Sheraton tea caddy. This project demonstrates skill in parquetry inlay, rope edging, ogee bracket style feet and, of course, exquisitely dovetailed boxes. The primary wood is figured walnut and the inner boxes are made of tiger maple. The harmony of the design is born out of William’s 30 years of experience in period furniture making and study.

William got his start as an apprentice in the shop of E. Townsend Moore in Darling, PA. He was influenced by the legacy of Welsh, English Quakers and Dutch settlers in the area. Beyond a few specialized cases, William sticks to the local hardwoods—cherry, maple and walnut. His work can be found in James Madison’s Montpelier and historic Jamestown.

tea caddy

Sheraton Tea Caddy

tea caddy

There’s an exquisite amount of detail in this small, traditional box form.

Reader’s Choice

Dragonfly and Lily Cabinet
11″ x 22″ x 55″

Mark Bellonby
Mason Neck, Virginia

Mark’s dragonfly and lily cabinet was voted as the Readers’ Choice. The cabinet is made of cherry, ebonized maple and various marquetry veneers, including abalone and mother-of-pearl inlay.

Mark said about the design, “Marquetry can be challenging. Design of the artwork was crucial to the impact of the piece, and was the hardest part. Following concept sketching, the cabinet on stand was developed in AutoCad and SketchUp, and the artwork was computer illustrated in cartoon fashion. Choice of background veneer was important—in this case ribbon mahogany was plain enough to set off the backwater scene with foliage and dragonflies while having a subtle appealing shimmer. Scroll sawing the veneers (bevel-cut method) and inlaying mother of pearl and abalone were straightforward, but applying and rubbing out multiple spray coats of finish was time consuming.”

dragonfly and lily cabinet

Mark’s favorite part of the build was the composition and painterly aspect of the marquetry.

Casework, Cabinets and Bookcases

Pixel
16″ x 18″ x 52″

Scott Grove
Canandaigua, New York

Scott’s Pixel demonstrates the incredible visual interest that veneer can give a piece. The redwood burl is bookmatched across all corners to give the eye the impression that the cube is seamless. Scott mentioned that it was tricky to make sure the sapwood edges mirrored each other in three dimensions. The pyrite sphere that lives in the arch between the legs contains a magnet that opens the door.

pixel

Scott’s mantra— find the line and then cross it—reflects his desire to push the boundaries of veneer work.

Tables

Greene & Greene Thorsen House Inspired Dining Table
75″ (extends to 135″) x 65″ x 30″

Bob Cherry
Pipersville, Pennsylvania

Bob’s interpretation of the Thorsen House dining table is made from quarter-sawn sapele, pommele sapele veneer and ebony. The elliptical top can extend to almost double its size. The Greene & Greene details are tastefully recreated. Because of the elliptical shape, the segmented pieces around the top all have different angles. Templates were created on a CNC and then pattern routed. Bob says his favorite feature is the pommele grain in the slip-matched top veneer.

greene and greene table

Bob said he wouldn’t use shop-sawn veneers if he were to build it again. Commercial veneers would’ve done the job.

green and green table

green and green table

Seating

Federal Parlor Chair
21″ x 18″ x 34″

Seth Capista
Conway, Massachusetts

The form and carving caught our eye when we came across Seth’s Federal Parlor Chair entry. The chair is made from mahogany and ash with a shellac finish. Seth’s favorite part of the build was turning the legs, and he spent a lot of time practicing the Samuel McIntire carving style.

federal parlor chair

Seth said about the carving, “It took a lot of practice pieces to get it where it is, which is miles behind Samuel McIntire who did the carving on the original circa 1801.”

federal parlor chair

Boxes and Small Items

Frame Saw
33″ x 16″

Scott Turner
Reston, Virginia

This frame saw, while strikingly beautiful, was made to be used. Scott carved the ends of the saw from African mahogany, and the stretchers are hard maple. The ends feature acanthus leaves and scrolls. The secondary end features a flower motif. The driver’s end features an inlaid compass rose in cherry and holly that’s intended to guide the cut of the saw. Turner used boiled linseed oil and wipe on satin polyurethane for finish.

frame saw

Scott says, “This is my working frame saw, and I like that it embodies the same dedication to beauty and craftsmanship I try to achieve in finished pieces.”

frame saw

Best Beginners

Mixologist Briefcase
14″ x 18″ x 4 1/2″

Gwen Feher
San Jose, California

This case was built as a gift and has more than 200 hours of engineering and building invested in it. The walnut case was designed to average briefcase dimensions and features mitered joinery reinforced with dowels. After experimenting with various configurations in a 3D model, every piece of the cocktail set was custom fit into leather-lined compartments and kept in place with magnets. The case is finished with Odie’s oil.

mixologist briefcase

Gwen took her first woodworking class in October 2017. This case was intended to be a Christmas present to her boyfriend but ended up as a June birthday gift.

mixologist briefcase

Thanks to everyone who participated. Till next year!

Popular Woodworking Excellence Award Winners – 2017
Popular Woodworking Excellence Award Winners – 2016


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