Veneer and attractive designs go together. Special designs using veneer were showcased in the 2010 Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge Woodworking Competition.

“Veneer is the only possible material I can use to achieve my design goals,” says Scott Grove of Green Grove Design, Rochester, N.Y. Grove earned the grand prize and took the Cabinetry category for his Ski Media Cabinets in the Sixth Annual Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge, bringing him $5,000 including a bonus for early entry.

Certainly Wood of East Aurora, N.Y., distributor for the project, received a cash award of $2,000, and sales representative Greg Engle receives $1,000, in recognition of their participation in the supply chain. Grove’s cabinets featured a variety of veneers including amboyna burl, quilted maple, sapele and wenge.

"Veneer allowed me to create a lightweight hollow curved panel torsion box to house recessed lighting and wiring that I could mount and 'float' off a rear panel,” Grove says. “I was also able to laminate quilted maple curved doors that were structurally stable to maintain a high door seam tolerance. I avoided exposed end grain, and could create a waterfall on the counter front edge."

Veneer Technologies Inc. in Newport, N.C., is one of the industry's largest manufacturers of high quality face veneer, sheet veneer and wood edgebanding products, and sources wood species worldwide. This competition rewards excellence in woodwork featuring natural veneer and wood product applications. CabinetMakerFDM is a sponsor and supporter of the competition.

Architectural, furniture, fixtures 

The other category winners in this year’s competition each received $1,000. In the Architectural Woodworking category, Albert Grant, Albert S. Grant Fine Woodworking and Design, Melrose, Conn., won for Bird's Eye Maple Residential Library.

"The use of a flitch of consecutive leaves of veneer provides continuity to all the elements,” says Grant. Using the bird's eye veneer in conjunction with solid maple and plain sliced maple veneer plywood accentuates the elements of the design."

In the Furniture category, Abdolhay Parnian of Parnian Furniture, Scottsdale, Ariz., won for Sunset Bed. "I was tired of minimalist designs for the bedroom and went all out designing something for my heart,” says Parnian. “In my opinion, veneer showcases the ultimate in quality, luxury and design possibilities."

Parnian was also the winner in the Store Fixtures category, for Parnian Reception Desk. "Nothing shows refinement and elegance like inlaid veneer coated with a perfectly smooth coat of high gloss lacquer,” Parnian says. “It shows seven different types of exotic wood and the inlay in the front of the desk shows an abstracted version of our company's logo in different types of veneer."

Specialty and student entries 

In the Specialty Items category (also recipient of the judges' award for special artistic merit), Rob Milam of VeneerImages, Atlanta, Ga., won for Grace, a portrait rendered in veneer.

"I wanted to create a composition that made a big statement by using colors and textures that do not necessarily replicate those of the original subject, but nevertheless accurately convey what I saw through my camera lens, he says."

The Student Design winner was Wallpaper Chair, by Christy Oates, San Diego State University. "Wallpaper Chair is part of a series of folding furniture with a dual function,” Oates says. “When the furniture is not being used, they hang on the wall as two-dimensional compositions."

Nine entries earned honorable mention: Mark Bernhard, Bernhard Woodwork, Northbrook, Ill., for Garrard Jewelers store fixtures; Tom Knoebel, Beach Cabinets, LLC, Melbourne, Fla., for KOA Cabinetry; student Pattrick Loew, Hastings High School, Hastings, Mich., for Albany Cutter Sleigh; Malcolm McDowell Tunnicliffe of Art Lights, Torreon Co., Mexico, for specialty item Cascade of Hanging Orbs; Earl Kelly of Earl Kelly Furniture, Pensacola, Fla., for his Coco Leaf table; John Harper, EMC Woodworking, Phoenix, Ariz., for Humidor; Ramon Valdez, Exotic Woodworks, Bloomfield, N.M., for writing desk Emma; Chuck Sharbaugh, Holly, Mich., for furniture cabinets Pivots and Rows; and Scott Grove, Green Grove Design, Rochester, N.Y., for Loral.

Judges impresses 

Experts from the fields of woodworking media, design education and architectural woodworking judge the Craftsman's Challenge. Overall, judges in the competition were impressed with the entries.

“The quality of creativity was incredible,” commented Robert Lang, executive editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, one of three judges for this year's competition. “The entrants showed us things you couldn’t have thought could be done with veneer. The very imaginative work impressed us all.”

“The variety was certainly amazing,” said Patrick Molzahn, vice-president of the WoodLINKS USA board of directors and cabinetmaking/ millwork program director at Madison Area Technical College. “Those who were successful had best stated their goals and approach. The grand prize winning entry had phenomenal execution and attention to detail.”

“The pieces were outstanding in workmanship and exhibited the use of a variety of components,” says Robert Stout, president of architectural woodworking firm RLS Commercial Interiors of Wendell, N.C., and president-elect of the Architectural Woodwork Institute. “We were pleased by the high level of expertise.”

John Varner, Veneer Tech vice president, says that a key purpose of the Craftsman’s Challenge is to recognize all the people in the veneer distribution chain as well as the designer. “We really consider this as woodworking’s best opportunity to promote industry creativity and strengthen supply relationships.”

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