Win cash and veneer for your best work

Entries are starting to come in for the 2023 Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge, but there is still time to enter what some consider the most prestigious contest for veneered woodwork. Deadline for entries is June 9.

Thousands of dollars in cash prizes are offered in a variety of categories covering all of the most popular uses of veneer in woodworking. The Craftman's Challenge is sponsored by Veneer Tech. In a new development, Certainly Wood has added its sponsorship to the contest, offering $10,000 in veneer credits to the prize money.

In each of the main categories — Architectural Woodworking, Cabinetry, Furniture, Marquetry, Specialty Products, and Student Work — there is a $500 first place category cash prize for each of the winning makers. The Grand Prize goes to the piece judged to be best from all the categories earns a cash prize of $1,500.

A veneer credit from Certainly Wood of $2,500 goes to the Grand Prize winner, and veneer credits from Certainly Wood of $1,250 each go to the category winners.

It’s easy to enter online; post your entry, including photos. Winners will be announced at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

Judges for the 2023 contest include Marc Adams, Ana Rothman, and William Sampson.

Marc Adams founded the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and has been woodworking professionally for more than 40 years. He judged this contest previously in 2008, 2016, and 2021.

Ana Rothman is vice president of sales and estimating at Montbleau & Associates in San Diego, California. She has worked for the last 15 years as a liaison to the Architecture and Design community in addition to handling marketing and sales for the company.

William Sampson has judged the contest several times. He is a lifelong woodworker, past editor of Fine Woodworking magazine and currently editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC.

In the past, judges have repeatedly mentioned how important quality photographs were to their decision, so entrants might want to check out some photographic advice from Scott Grove, who is a past multiple winner in the contest and has served several times as a judge.

Pictured left to right, here’s a look at last year’s winners.

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2022 Craftsman's Challenge 2022 Craftsman's Challenge 2022 Craftsman's Challenge  

A team effort between Fritz Cabinetry & Furniture of Shakopee, Minnesota, and Indiana Architectural Plywood, was the Grand Prize-winning stairway project that featured an African mahogany stairway, involving a panel layout in the entry staircase, art wall, and passage doors in the vestibule of a residence.

A compass rose ceiling medallion captured the top prize in the Architectural Woodworking category. Designed and crafted by S+L Millworks Inc. in Tampa, Florida, using veneer from Certainly Wood, the installation involved mappa burl, rosewood, zebrawood, redwood burl, wenge, curly sycamore, ebony, and bird’s-eye maple.

A project dubbed “Diamond of Elegance” won the Cabinetry category of the competition for Dmitry Ivanovs of Elegance Custom Cabinetry in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

David Lamb of Canterbury, New Hampshire, who won the Grand Prize in this contest in 2021, contributed another spectacular entry to win the Furniture Category in 2022. The piece is a finely crafted bureau with mirror made with mahogany, Cuban mahogany, poplar, and white birch.

John Kilzer of Port Angeles, Washington, earned the Marquetry category prize with his marquetry buffet. It uses quilted maple, imbuia burl, bird’s-eye maple, and wenge.

Dušan Rakíc of Serbia, who has won the Specialty Products category twice before, earned the prize for a third time with a masterful marquetry veneer interpretation of the painting by Giacomo Ceruti titled “Three Beggars.” More than 30 types of walnut veneer were used, in addition to cherry, pear, olive, bird’s-eye maple, maple, elm, birch, madrona, and mahogany.

Ethan Kroetsch of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and a student at Conestoga College, won the Student category and a $1,000 cash prize with his Kroetsch Cabinet fashioned after the style of cabinets-on-stands done by famous woodworker James Krenov.

You can see pictures and read about the 2022 winners here.

To enter the 2023 Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge online or to get more information click here.


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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.