American Woodworker

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Winter 2013-2014

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School News:Fresh Wood, 2007


School News:Fresh Wood, 2007

The Fresh Wood Competition is always my first stop at the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers Fair, which is held bi-annually in Las Vegas. Fresh Wood is loaded with pieces that showcase woodworking's broad range of expression, from imaginative design to masterful skill. One reason I enjoy this show is that, amazingly, all of the exhibitors are students. The pieces and their creators energize Fresh Wood, infusing it with enthusiasm and the sheer joy of accomplishment. Fresh Wood's mission is to connect woodworking students and woodworking manufacturers, with the goal of encouraging the students to pursue woodworking careers. To enter, students must be enrolled in accredited high school or post-secondary woodworking programs. Entries (photographs and a short essay) are juried to determine which pieces will be included in the show. High school and post-secondary entries are judged separately. Fifty-eight pieces, including 26 entered by high school students, were chosen for display at Fresh Wood 2007, from over 200 entries. At the show, the pieces are judged again. Prizes are awarded in seven categories, at both high school and post-secondary levels. Best of Show and People's Choice awards are also presented.

The Goose, a Chippendale-style secretary, is only the fourth piece of furniture Chris Hedges has built. It served as Chris's introduction to veneering, carving, door-making, creating curved moldings and multi-step finishing.



Hot Work from Cool Woodworkers
As I spoke with individual exhibitors, I realized they share attributes that underscore the value of technical education. They're confident, a trait gained by mastering skills under knowledgeable direction. They view challenges as opportunities: almost every piece in the show included woodworking techniques accomplished for the first time. And finally, most exhibitors have a clear vision of what they want to do after they've graduated. After receiving a Master's degree and teaching sociology for several years, Chris Hedges decided to pursue his dream and enrolled in the woodworking program at University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College (Ohio). Chris's The Goose  took home three top awards: First in Class, Best in Show and the People's Choice. Chris plans to establish his own shop and specialize in tour-de-force pieces. 

Jesus Segovia (left) and Michael Rowan teamed up to build Epic, an ornate pool table. After building the basic structure together, Jesus focused on the top, while Michael concentrated on the base.


A loop of ribbon inspired Cortney Schiappa's African Wrap coffee table. “To make a useful table, I had to flatten the loop,” she says, “and I constructed about a hundred models to work out the angles and proportions.”

To complete their Epic pool table, high school seniors Michael Rowan and Jesus Segovia incorporated everything they'd learned in three years of woodshop classes at the Dale Jackson Career Center in Lewisville, Texas. Epic features interlocking wave motifs, mother of pearl inlays, and legs that were glued, cut apart and reassembled so that no wood was wasted. Cortney Schiappa is an interior design student at Miami University (Ohio). She built African Wrap, her first woodworking project, during a required class in furniture design and construction. After cutting and hand-fitting all the angled miter joints, she ingeniously assembled the pieces around a precisely sized wax-paper-covered box, to hold them in position for gluing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in sculpture and a master's in product design, Doug Stout worked as a designer for Ford, General Motors and Mattel. Then he helped develop and eventually chaired the design department at Brigham Young University. Doug sculpted Kobran, a guitar stand, by bandsawing, carving, rasping and sanding 8/4 walnut. He formed the wings by gluing resawn 1/16th-in.-thick veneers in a custom-made mold. As Christian Lazcano sculpted Ryu's wenge frame and zebrawood panels, doors and drawers, he felt each piece come to life, as if to communicate how it wanted to be shaped. Christian, a student in the woodworking program at Cerritos College, plans to teach college-level woodworking.

Douglas Stout proves that a student can be any age. Doug enrolled in woodworking classes after retiring from a career in academia. “I wanted to work with my hands,” he explains. Kobran, his elegantly-shaped guitar stand, shows that he definitely has the touch.


Christian Lazcano completed his striking Ryú cabinet by applying techniques he learned while attending a summer workshop on shaping and texturing wood at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.

Freedom Night is Olivia Hulett's second piece of furniture. Her bed features intarsia, chip-carved leg detailing and a multi-step glazed finish. Now entering her senior year—and her fourth year of woodshop, Olivia plans to build an armoire, nightstands and a small cabinet on legs to go with her bed. After graduating, she'll pursue a degree in wood technology at Kansas State University and hopes to open a custom furniture shop. Georgia Tech industrial design student Nick Komor built his Unraveling Oak Coffee Table as part of an independent study course during which he worked closely with an instructor, as he had little woodworking experience. The base consists of three curved stave constructions made from straight-grained oak. Nick bleached the staves before coloring one side with ebony stain.

Olivia Hulett built Freedom Night during her third year of woodshop at Mustang High School in Mustang, Oklahoma. Completing the headboard's 64-piece intarsia took 1-1/2 months.


To contrast with the pristine staves, Nick turned the vase, his first major turning project, from a blank made from the knottiest cut-offs he could find. Eric Stevens, an industrial design student at Auburn University, used a CAD program and a laser engraver to design and cut pieces that he glued together to make a form to mold his Notchback chair. Initially, Eric used the form to create a plastic mold of the chair's shape, so he could fine-tune his design. “The plastic mold was like 3-dimensional paper,” he said. “It really helped me see things clearly.”Samuel Provenza built Nesting Cabinet as a student in the furniture design program at Savannah College of Art and Design. The large cabinet rests on the floor and the three smaller cabinets hang from the metal frame. The frame joints are tapped and threaded. The smallest cabinet features a box-jointed drawer. The rest contain adjustable shelves. For information on Fresh Wood 2009, contact Adria Torrez, Education Manager, at (323) 215-0311 or

Eric Stevens created his molded plywood Notchback chair in a vacuum bag press, by layering 11 sheets of veneer over his computer-designed MDF form.


and guarantee your glued-up shelves will be flat. They're well worth the effort to make.

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