Entries open for 2023 Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge
Mahogany veneer stairs

A view from the top of the 2022 Grand Prize-winning stairway, a joint project of Fritz Cabinetry & Furniture in Minnesota and Indiana Architectural Plywood.

Entries are now being accepted for the 2023 Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge. The contest offers entrants the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes for exemplary woodwork using veneer in a wide variety of categories.

One Grand Prize-winning entry will be selected from all eligible entries. In addition to valuable publicity, the Grand Prize-winning craftsperson/designer/builder/manufacturer, their distributor/supplier, and their distributor/supplier sales representative will receive cash awards as follows:

  • One $1,500 award to the designer, craftsperson, or manufacturer of the Grand Prize-winning entry
  • One $1,000 award to the distributor who supplied veneer or edgebanding materials used to create the Grand Prize-winning entry.
  • One $500 award to one sales representative of the distributor who supplied veneer and wood product materials used to create the Grand Prize-winning entry.

All other selected category winners (Architectural, Cabinetry, Furniture, Marquetry, Specialty Products, and Student Work) each will be awarded one $500 cash award.

Special awards or honorable mentions may be given at the discretion of the judges. Any entrant who has not previously entered in any Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge competition will be eligible for a New Entrant award of $500. This is in addition to any category award the new entrant may receive.

It’s easy to enter online. Simply post your entry, including photos. The entry deadline is June 9 for this year’s contest. Winners will be announced at a special event at AWFS in Las Vegas.

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.

Skillful work to complete a challenging project in spectacular African crotch mahogany veneer all combined to capture the Grand Prize in the 2022 Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge. A team effort between Fritz Cabinetry & Furniture of Shakopee, Minnesota, and Indiana Architectural Plywood, the project involved a panel layout in the entry staircase, art wall, and passage doors in the vestibule of a residence. 

“To make the split African crotch mahogany consistent, care was taken to maintain the waterfall effect from the center point of each adjoining leaf,” said Mark Dvorak of Indiana Architectural Plywood. “Each wall required small adjustments to the leaf width and lengths to ensure common dimensioning.”

That attention to detail impressed the judges, leading them to award the $3,000 grand prize to Fritz Cabinetry.
But the contest is about lots more than just the Grand Prize. There are individual categories for Architectural, Cabinetry, Furniture, Marquetry, Specialty Products, and Student Work. The winners in those categories also produced stunning work.

Compass Rose ceiling
A compass rose ceiling medallion by S+L Millworks Inc. captured the 2022 top prize in the architectural woodworking category.

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 to create a 42 x 54 inch compass rose with a depth of 12 inches in a recess framed with quartered sapele veneer trimmed with sapele hardwood. 

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. The project involved walnut veneer in a diamond pattern layup in several locations to highlight doors, cabinetry, and a fireplace. Ivanovs received a $1,000 prize for his project.

David Lamb's furniture winner VTCC 2022
David Lamb’s bureau with mirror captured the furniture category in the 2022 competition.

David Lamb of Canterbury, New Hampshire, who won the Grand Prize in this contest in 2021, contributed another stunning entry to win the Furniture Category in 2022. His winning piece was a finely crafted bureau with mirror that stands 88-1/2 inches high and is 47 inches wide and 20 inches deep. It’s made with mahogany, Cuban mahogany, poplar, and white birch and combines tour-de-force veneer work with carving.

John Klizer's buffet 2022 VTCC marquetry winner
John Kilzer created this buffet inspired by George Bullock to win the 2022 marquetry category.

John Kilzer of Port Angeles, Washington, earned the Marquetry category prize of $1,000 with his buffet inspired by the works of George Bullock. The piece uses quilted maple, imbuia burl, bird’s-eye maple, and wenge.

Dušan Raki´c of Serbia, who has won this category twice before, earned the $1,000 prize with a masterful marquetry interpretation of the old masters painting by Italian Baroque painter Giacomo Ceruti titled “Three Beggars.”

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

Originally created by Veneer Technologies to promote the use of veneer in woodworking, the Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge is now owned and conducted by CCI Media LLC, the parent company of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine. Veneer Tech continues to sponsor the contest. Judges for this year’s contest have yet to be named.

See pictures and read more about the 2022 winners. For more information and to enter online, click here. 


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user willsampson
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.