SkillsUSA woodworking contests garner industry support
April 20, 2016 | 12:05 pm CDT

ANAHEIM, Ca. - Royal Plywood, Blum, Colonial Saw/Lamello, Hafele, ESI, Decore-ative Specialties, Rockler Woodworking, and West Wood Products donated nearly $8,000 in supplies, tools and giveaways for students at the 2016 SkillsUSA California State Cabinetmaking Championships, held April 2 at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego. AWFS staff and volunteers served as contest coordinators and volunteers for the event.

A total of 16 students from nine schools across the state competed in the cabinetmaking contest for medals, prizes and the opportunity to represent California at the SkillsUSA National Championships. SkillsUSA promotes job readiness among students by teaching them skills and leadership training. It also supports students entering skilled trades.

Students built a two-foot tall night stand utilizing Blum offset hinges for the frameless cabinet and Blum Tandem glides for the drawer box, both donated by Blum. San Diego-area Blum rep Gary Riley loaned a Blum hinge boring machine and was on-hand to provide a demonstration of the hinge and Tandem slide installation and assist during the contest.  Hafele provided decorative hardware for the drawer and door, along with glue and shelf pins. Rockler Woodworking donated four Bosch jigsaws as well as prize packs for the gold medalists.

ESI donated edge-banding, while all of the solid stock and sheet goods came from Royal Plywood of Cerritos, CA. Decore-ative Specialties donated sample doors and drawer fronts and West Wood Products provided pre-grooved drawer sides, which saved the students time in the contest and enhanced the overall look of the finished product. Students were also introduced to the new Lamello Zeta joinery system. Karl Frey, from Colonial Saw, loaned the Zeta tools, donated Clamex fasteners, and demonstrated the process for the students and was on-hand during the contest for assistance.

Students had eight hours to finish the project and judges used criteria such as accuracy of measurements and use of tools and machinery to determine the scores.

Contest coordinator Saul Martin, who developed the project plans, said “Our goal is always to prepare the students for the national competition and for work in the industry. By introducing new processes and technology like the Lamello Zeta system, they will better understand our industry and be prepared for the professional woodworking environment.”

The judging panel consisted of three highly experienced industry professionals. The students were then allowed to take home their finished cabinets.

The students who earn the highest honors in the state cabinetmaking competition – Gold Medal – are then eligible for a trip to Louisville, Kentucky in June for the high-energy National Leadership & Skills Championships, where they will pit their skills against the other top-medalists from all other states.

Meanwhile, 13 first-year woodworking students competed in the state Introductory Woodworking contest, intended to introduce students to the SkillsUSA competitive environment and encourage them to return to compete in the Cabinetmaking contest the following year. The students built a foot stool, incorporating different joinery methods and jig saw technique. All material was donated by Royal Plywood. Representatives from the Palomar College Cabinet and Furniture Technology program (San Diego, CA) volunteered as contest coordinators and judges.

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at