For the first time, a graduating high school senior in a WoodLinks program won the $3,000 Grand Prize in the 2009 Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge.

In an accomplishment that reflects the quality of the next generation's woodworking ability, Andrew Prioli, at Cedar Ridge High School, Hillsborough, N.C., was awarded the Grand Prize at a presentation held during the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

Prioli earned the top honor for "Inverurie," a walnut dining room table with inlays of curly maple, cocobolo, maple burl and walnut burl veneers depicting three stallions and Celtic knots.

Certainly Wood, distributor for the project, received a cash award of $2,000, and salesman Jim Carroll received $1,000, in recognition of their participation in the supply chain.

"We were very impressed with the caliber of the student work. They gave the pros a real run for the money," commented Will Sampson, editor-in-chief, CabinetMaker magazine and one of three judges for this year's competition that rewards excellence in woodwork featuring natural veneer and wood product applications. "This speaks well for the future of the industry. We all should be looking over our shoulders at the up and coming talent."

Prioli is headed to the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall, where he plans to be a furniture design major.

"This has been really exciting," he exclaimed. "The entire process, from designing to building to winning top place with a student design entry, has been quite an experience."

Prioli took three years of woodworking at Cedar Ridge under Keith Yow, a well-known WoodLinks participating program instructor.

"Andrew is an exceptional young man who works hard at everything he does," says Yow. "Three years ago he took a little interest in marquetry and took off with it. He has taught me a thing or two."
Prioli was a 2008 Craftsman's Challenge honorable mention winner in the Student Designs category.

This year's competition category winners, each receiving $1,000, were: in Architectural Woodworking, Fetzer Architectural Woodwork, Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Alice Tully Hall at the Julliard School of Music, designed by Diller, Scofidio & Renfro.

In Cabinetry, the winner was Paul and Robin Mann of Paul Mann Custom Boats, Manns Harbor, N.C., for the sportfish yacht, Ann Warrick.

In Furniture, John W. Harper of EMC Woodworking, Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded for "Office Piece."

In Specialty Items, for the second year in a row, Geoffrey Kaiser aka Tockhwock, and Bruce Grimes, Santa Rosa, Calif., won for "Sunset on the Aegean," a reproducing grand piano.

In Store Fixtures, the winner was Mark Ramsey of Tahiti Cabinets, Inc., Anaheim, Calif., for "Something Silver.

And in Student Designs, Michael Poorman, Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., won for the dinner table "A Poor Man's Legacy."

In recognition of his striking use of marquetry, Chuck Sharbaugh of Sharbaugh Woodwork, Holly, Mich., received a special judges' plaque for his furniture entry, a standing cabinet titled "Tribute."

All entries can be viewed on the Veneer Technology Incorporated's website at www.veneertech.com. There also is an archive of 2005-2008 entries.

Impartial third-party experts from the fields of woodworking media, design education and architectural woodworking judged the 2009 Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge. Along with Will Sampson, the panel included Paul Schurch, a custom woodworker specializing in marquetry in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Whitney Coombs, current president of the Architectural Woodwork Institute and president of architectural woodworking firm Ivan C. Dutterer, Inc. of Hanover, Pa.

"I was pleased to experience the range, the originality of concepts and the quality of the examples entered," said Coombs. "We were surprised by some of the entries."

Paul Schurch gave a tip for those who enter next year's competition. "Put the same work effort that you put into your piece into getting good pictures. Hire someone if necessary. Part of your construction program should be documenting the work with good photography."

Entrants submit up to five photographs of their work, and in their review judges depend on the photographs along with a well-worded statement of goals and how these are accomplished by the use of veneer products.

The Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge entries for 2010 will be accepted beginning September 30, 2009. The results of next year's competition will be announced at the IWF show in Atlanta, Ga. CabinetMaker+FDM magazine again will be Craftsman's Challenge partner sponsor.

Veneer Technologies Incorporated, located in Newport, N.C., is one of the industry's largest manufacturers of high quality face veneer, sheet veneer and wood edgebanding products. Veneer Tech sources wood species worldwide.

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