Fresh Wood student competition draws many entries
Quint-Essential table was a 2015 winner for Werner Pyka of Palomar College.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A total of 195 entries were received for the 2017 Fresh Wood student woodworking competition, a near record. The judging panel will select approximately 40 finalists that will be invited to AWFS Fair at the Las Vegas Convention Center, July 19 – 22, 2017.
This year’s entries came from 48 different schools in the United States and Canada. Of the entries received overall, 62 were from high schools while the remaining 133 were from post-secondary schools. Entries totaled 169 in the last Fresh Wood competition in 2015, and the record highest number of entries was 211 in 2007.

“The higher number of entries can be attributed to increased promotion to schools, students and teachers and a stronger presence for the competition on social media,” says AWFS executive vice president Angelo Gangone. This year also was the first time the entry (and judging) process is entirely online, making it significantly easier for students and teachers to submit their entries.
Students can enter their projects into six different categories in the Fresh Wood competition: Case Goods, Seating, Design for Production, Tables, Open and Special Theme: Lighting. Entries from the High School level and the Post-Secondary level are scored separately.

The 2017 panel of judges represent different areas of the industry, lending a variety of perspectives to the judging process:
Jena Hall, Jena Hall Designs Ltd., Elmsford, New York
Tom McKenna, Fine Woodworking, Newtown, Connecticut
Chris Poehlmann, CP Lighting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mei-Yen Shipek, Autodesk Pier 9, San Francisco, California
Scott Vasey, Advanced Fixtures, Princeton, Texas
Judges review entries based on the design innovation or quality of execution of a known style, craftsmanship, functionality, construction techniques, and aesthetics. Final judging will occur at AWFS Fair. All winners of the student competition will be announced Friday, July 21 at the Student Awards Reception on the show floor Stage.
This year, AWFS Fair exhibiting companies will sponsor the competition’s special awards, the Best of Show and People’s Choice. The Best of Show Award, sponsored by KCD Software, will receive not only a $1,000 prize but also a wood sculpture designed by the renowned furniture artist Garry Knox Bennett.

The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Wagner Meters, will be selected by AWFS Fair attendees and carries a $750 prize. In addition to Best of Show and People’s Choice, prizes can be awarded in each category and at each school level for First Place ($1,000), Second Place ($500) and Honorable Mention ($250).
The Fresh Wood Student Competition has no fee to enter, and AWFS  covers costs to ship the entries to and from AWFS Fair, as well as to bring the finalists and their teachers to Las Vegas. A goal of the contest is to encourage students to pursue further education and careers in woodworking and manufacturing as the industry faces shortages of skilled workers. The post-secondary level includes entrants from four-year universities, trade colleges, and community colleges. It is open to students in North America. See


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Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].