Chessboard coffee table made from scrap wood wins Young Wood Pro competition
April 29, 2022 | 10:03 am CDT
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Paul Beiler of Paul's Woodworks was named the winner of the Young Wood Pro 2022 competition. The competition recognizes outstanding projects and the young wood pros that create them. 

Beiler’s Coffee Table project was one of 37 submissions to the competition. Voters who took to Facebook between March 21-25 to “Like” their favorite projects whittled the competition down to 10. A panel of judges made up of the WoodworkingNetwork staff chose the final winner.

The winner was announced on April 28 during the Wood Pro Expo in San Diego. Brendan Linehan, digital media manager, a project manager for the competition, said the quality of the work "rivaled all past Young Wood Pro contests."

In addition to the Young Wood Pro competition winner being announced at the show, the winner of the Top Shelf Design Awards competition was also announced on April 28, at Closets Expo, which was co-located with Wood Pro Expo. The Mountain Modern Wine Cellar by Darryl Hogeback of Savante Wine Cellars won the Best of Show award and was in the Top Shelf Design Awards. 

Beiler's innovative table

The 21-year-old Beiler, who will receive $500, and be featured on and profiled in an upcoming issue of FDMC magazine, said the table was made from recycled walnut and ash wood. 

“I made this one [project] with walnut and ash that I got for free off my neighbor's reject pile from his sawmill. Plus some pieces of firewood that I cut some of the legs out of,” he said.

Some of the details that caught the attention of the judges were also the result of the materials available on hand. “I didn't have enough walnut pieces that were long enough for four legs though, so that's why I extended one with ash via the 4-way impossible dovetail.” 

He also looked to others for inspiration. “I got [the] idea of using 2 different pieces for a leg from a desk built by @cowdogcraftworks, and the impossible dovetail joint was inspired by a high-level Japanese craftsman, @dylaniwakuni.

"The bowtie-shaped drawer idea came to me one time when I woke up in the middle of the night, he said. "The checkerboard was made by gluing a bunch of thin squares onto 1/4" plywood and then in-laying it into the top."

The winning table caught the attention of an almost unanimous vote by the judges. Michaelle Bradford, the editor of Closets & Organized Storage, said she “Loved the dovetail joints, especially the bowtie-shaped drawer.” 

Will Sampson, the editorial director, also chose Beiler’s chessboard coffee table. “I love that he turned a bunch of rejects, scrap wood into a gorgeously executed table. The design has whimsy in the bowtie joinery and the impossible dovetail leg extension, all tastefully and flawlessly executed."

Larry Adams, Online Editor, added that “In this increasingly circular-economy landscape, the back story of this beautiful coffee table is one that an owner would relate to any guests appreciating the piece … The dovetailed drawers stand out and I enjoyed the small details like the symmetry between the drawer pull and the shape of the drawer face.  

"The chessboard inlay is attractive, and yes, is an 8x8 board with like-sized squares that chess boards should have."


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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).