The Telephone Game – A New Twist on Design in Woodworking

The Telephone Game – Woodworking Version

 In Contributors' Blog, Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You know what the Telephone Game is, right?  One person starts by whispering a phrase into the next person’s ear and that person whispers what they heard to the next person and this continues down the line.  By the time the phrase passes through all the players, it is totally different.

Wouldn’t it be fun to try something like that with furniture design?  This table is the start of the #Woodchat Telephone Game Design Experiment. (More views of the table can be found on my blog.)

My Table Design

My Table Design

So, how does it work?

The idea is for somebody else to take this concept and reinterpret it their own way.  You don’t need to use a CAD program.  All that matters is that you are able to convey your ideas – a good photograph of a pencil sketch or clay model would also be fine.  Design experience or savvy is not required.

One person at a time is given one week to reinterpret the piece and their vision is shared at the next #Woodchat (Wednesdays at 7p.m. Pacific).  Then the next person takes that design and makes their changes.

Don’t hold back!

We (#Woodchat hosts Matt Gradwohl, Scott Meek, and I) are really interested in seeing the progression of the design and the only restriction we wish to impose is a limit of three major changes.

Other than that, nothing is off limits.  We want you to take the design and run with it.  We’re okay if the table transforms into a chair, then a coat rack, then a lamp.  That would be amazing.

It doesn’t matter if the design is incredibly difficult and impractical to actually make.  Our goal is to focus on design and only design.

So far, the table looks like this after two transformations.

Vic Hubbard's Redesign

Vic Hubbard’s redesign

What is the goal?

Aside from being fun, we hope that this design experiment helps you realize your aesthetic tastes and improves your design skills.

Would you like to participate?

I hope you join us in this experiment.  The more people who get involved, the more interesting it will be.  To sign up, let us know in the comments section below.

Editor’s note: We’re inviting PWM contributing editors and authors, and select readers, to write blog entries for us on all things woodworking – particularly related to articles they’re writing for the magazine. We’ve started a Contributor’s Bog (you’ll find it on the drop-down blog menu on the home page; the direct link is and for now, we’re co-posting entries on the Editors’ Blog. The post above is from Chris Wong, a talented, professional woodworker who creates sculptural woodwork from his shop in Port Moody, BC. You can find out more about his work (and read his blog) at

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Showing 5 comments
  • SMeekWoodworks

    Here is Chris’s post with all three of the designs up till this point:
    Tonight during #woodchat, we will be discussing my version of the table. You can find out more on how to follow the #woodchat discussion by visiting this page:

    After tonight’s #woodchat, we will have the sketchup file from my redesign posted somewhere to download. You aren’t required to use a design program however. Just sketching a new version based off the previous is perfectly fine.


  • pvanderlugt

    I think I would like to participate, but how do we post the design? Do we copy what is here somehow, and the change it in sketch up somehow and post it? Or send scanned drawings?

    I’m a bit of a newbie in this respect. This is a fun idea though.

    And I agree, it would be nice to see each entry so we can see what has been done before, so we don’t wind up vascillating back and forth on a particular part.


    • ChrisHasFlair

      Hi Pete,

      You can e-mail me a JPEG of your design (preferably a screen shot or a scan) to We will share and discuss it on #Woodchat and you are welcome to join in the G+ video feed as well, or via Twitter if you like. When it’s your turn, we can send you or make available to download the images or CAD file, depending on how the last design was created.

      You can see the past designs in a slideshow at the bottom of this page:

      Can I add your name to the list?


  • gumpbelly

    Maybe it`s how my mind works, but I would want to know where this table has been, show pics of original, and any modifications to where it is now. Otherwise it could just keep going one step forward, and one step back,. Ad nauseam. Possibly others will jump in with their thoughts, LOML tells me I`m really strange, possibly its true 🙂

    Interesting concept, but I fear it may spawn a lot of Frankenfurniture. I`d hate to think I was alive, and participating in the golden age of Franken. Rambling thoughts from a skewered mind.

    • ChrisHasFlair

      Hi gumpbelly,

      You can see the past designs of the table in the slideshow at the bottom of this page: So far, there has been a steady progression in one direction.

      Whether or not it spawns “Frankenfurniture”, I think that the experiment will give us all an opportunity to clarify our design tastes. I’m really excited to see where this design ends up after passing through many woodworkers.

      Let me know if you’d like to participate in our game. You can e-mail me at with your name and contact info (e-mail address or Twitter handle) so I can add you to the roster.


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