SAN DIEGO - Six wood industry suppliers -- Royal Plywood, Blum, Laguna Tools, Woodworker West, ESI, Bosch Power Tools and Rockler -- have showed their support for industry education activities by contributing more than $4,000 in tools, supplies, gifts and prizes to the 2013 SkillsUSA California State Cabinetmaking Championships, held last month in San Diego.

For the first time, the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) served as the contest coordinator for the SkillsUSA California Cabinetmaking Contest. This involved developing the project plans, identifying all volunteers and judges and coordinating all donations and contributions.

"AWFS is honored and pleased to support SkillsUSA in this way," said AWFS Executive Director Angelo Gangone. "It aligns very well with our association's focus on education and it's a visible and concrete way to observe first-hand woodworking students that will be working in and potentially leading our industry in the very near future."

The top scoring SkillsUSA national cabinetmaking champions have been invited to compete in the 2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial at the AWFS Fair to determine which student will represent the United States at the 2015 WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The competitors will work in a fully-functioning 1,600 square foot cabinet shop for 27 hours on the AWFS Fair show floor (Booth #9251) to build an advanced cabinet that includes a door and a drawer box, handcut dovetail joinery, veneer, edgebanding, built-in drawer slides and hardware installation. The project plans were developed by a team of industry professionals and educators and modeled after professional drawings and the official WorldSkills competition plans.

The students’ projects will be scored by industry experts and the winner will be announced on Saturday, July 27 at 11:00 a.m. at the booth in a ceremony emceed by Tommy MacDonald of the PBS show "Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac." The winner will then begin a rigorous two year training program to prepare for the 2015 WorldSkills competition.

A total of 15 students from seven schools across the state competed for medals, prizes and the opportunity to represent California at the National Championships. Cabinetmaking students were challenged to build a 2-foot tall cabinet utilizing Blum hinges for the face-frame door and KV drawer slides for the drawer. A Blum hinge press, Bosch palm routers and Kreg pocket hole jigs were also employed. Students had eight hours to finish the project. Judges used criteria such as accuracy of measurements and use of tools and machinery to determine the scores.

The judging panel consisted of Gary Riley of Blum, Inc., San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association member Mark Fuller and former woodworking instructor Joshua Torbick. The finished cabinets were then donated to San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

Saúl Martín of Architectural Woodworking Company of Los Angeles served as technical chair of the contest. He developed the project plans and identified all materials, supplies and tools that were needed. He also set up the contest area, held the contest orientation and served as on-site coordinator during the contest. "I believe in SkillsUSA because it encourages the student and promotes careers in our industry," says Martín. "I am a SkillsUSA (formerly known as VICA) alum, and I am happy to give back to this worthy organization."

The top Cabinetmaking medalists received a Bosch Combo router kit as a prize. The high school gold medalist's school received a $200 gift certificate to Laguna Tools. All competitors received a Blum messenger bag with a measuring tape, pencil, a screwdriver, a current copy of Woodworker West magazine and other useful items.

The students who earn the highest honors in the state competition -- Gold Medals -- are then eligible for a trip to Kansas City on June 24-28 for the high-energy National Leadership & Skills Championships, where they will pit their skills against other top-medalists from all other states. 

SkillsUSA is one of the largest national career & technical student organizations in the nation. It promotes job readiness with skills and leadership training and supports students entering skilled trades.

See more photos from the Cabinetmaking contest.

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