Though I was traveling on business most of the month of May and only had a couple hours to spend in my shop, I had psyched myself up to participate in the 3rd Annual Summers Woodworking 2X4 contest and for the most part am happy that I did. I bet that I almost spent as much time sorting through 2X4’s at the several local Lowes and Home Depots and purchases a half dozen of them before locating my “White Whale”. It was an absolutely perfect specimen and will be the 2X4 that all other 2X4’s will be measured against for years to come. The problems started when I realized that about half of the videos that I shot of the build (A requirement for the contest) were either bad due to poor lighting or even worse, I forgot to hit the record button and didn’t notice until after completing that stage of the construction. So, at 9:30pm on Friday night; just two days away from the deadline, I found myself back at both Lowes and Home Depot trying to find a second a White Whale! It didn’t happen and I wound-up using one of my back-up 2X4s. It had plenty of pin-knots but otherwise was OK. Even as I filmed each step for a second time I had another camera fail as I was routing the dovetail slots in the post, so you’ll see me routing a second set of slots into the opposing end of the post from my first attempt, just so I could show that step in the process.
Here’s the video of my entry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6Q8xi0RF7E
It was also only after I glued the legs onto the post that I noticed that I didn’t reduce the top end of the post enough. For proper scale the thinnest portion of the post should be near the top, but unfortunately the thinnest part of my post is just above the legs. Oh well. I’m sure everyone who entered had similar challenges.
My table was built using mostly my Shopsmith Mark V and a few of it’s accessories. In fact, it required all of the basic five functions: The tablesaw, the disc sander, the drill press, the horizontal boring machine, and the lathe. On top of that I used a Shopsmith bandsaw and jointer as well.
As for the contest, there were several projects submitted that I felt deserved to place ahead of mine, but the entire selection and announcing process was surprisingly unorganized for a third-year event. Next time I would love to see them select the top choices and announce their prizes, and rather than use a random generator as they did, put everyone’s name on slips of paper and draw names for the remaining prizes. If they want to make sure that people get a prize that they prefer they could have a different “hat” for each prize, and the entrants could select which prize they would like to win in advance and their name would only go into that hat. The way it was done was in a Youtube Live event, that the entrants were required to attend to win, and the process lasted for three grueling hours!
Also, why not have winners in several categories? Cabinets are so different than bowls, which are different than toys, which are different than board games. If they were to create categories then the secondary prizes could be targeted to people with those particular interests. Scrollsaw blades are an excellent prize for a toymaker, while a circular saw guide would likely not be.
If this process doesn’t change I imagine that many of the folks who entered and some of the sponsors will sit-out future contests; and that would be a shame.