Picnic Challenge

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Project by Brian Havens posted 11-13-2012 05:54 PM 1743 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Every summer, the local woodworking club that I belong to, has a “picnic challenge”. This year, each participant was to make something out of three pieces of wood provided by the club president. Each set of wood was as close to identical as possible. The three pieces of wood were: a wedge of Curly Maple, about 8” x 10” on the outside of the wedge; a 4” x 4”, 3/4” thick piece of Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry); and a piece of Wenge’ about the size of a pen blank. The rules were that we had to use at least some of each wood, and that no other woods could be used.

My original plan was to make the bowl section out of the Maple, leaving some of the natural ripple, caused by the curly figure, on the outside of the log on the rim; use the Jatoba for the rim, and the Wenge’ for the finial. However, as I hollowed out the bowl, it was eventually clear that the natural rim idea was not going to pan out. To make thing worse, the opening at the rim was now too large for the piece of Jatoba that I wanted to use as rim

To solve the lid problem, I sliced up the Wenge’ to make segments, to form a segmented ring to make the rim smaller. At this point, I could use the Jatoba again to make the rim, but this left me with no Wenge’ for the finial. I did have some leftover Maple, but I thought that a Maple finial would not look nice.

I checked the rules, and found that coloring the wood was legal, so I decided to use the Maple for the finial and ebonize it. For an added touch, I decided to make a multi-axis final, which ended up kind of resembling the stem on an apple.

So, at this point, just when I am starting to feel that I am in the clear, just needing to get a couple of coats of lacquer on this piece, I completely botch the lacquer on the inside of the bowl. After trying to re-sand the inside, it was clear that I was not going to be able to easily remove my botchery entirely. Once again, ebonizing came to my rescue. I could not fix it, so I hid it.

Picnic Challenge? A challenge it was, but a picnic it was not.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

12 comments so far

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4415 days

#1 posted 11-13-2012 06:02 PM

I love it, Brian. Talk about ingenuity! Looks like it was made without any restrictions at all. So, big question. . . did you win the challenge? I’m guessing you did.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 2746 days

#2 posted 11-13-2012 06:03 PM

Brian; It looks like a winner to me. The finial dyed black looks like a big drip frozen in mid air, so the inside dyed black seems appropriate. The colors blend well together. Good luck.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2399 days

#3 posted 11-13-2012 06:10 PM

Beautiful project and interesting writeup!

-- Rex

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3255 days

#4 posted 11-13-2012 06:18 PM

No, it did not win, but just to give a sense of the kind of talent we have at the local club, there were six entries, and on the first pass of judging all the pieces received identical scores. No kidding. The president had to make the final six-way tie breaker. (Would hate to have been him.) Perhaps the real prize is belonging to a club with that much talent.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3255 days

#5 posted 11-13-2012 06:23 PM

You are right, Don, it does look like a frozen drip. I will have to remember that so that I can use the effect intentionally next time.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4415 days

#6 posted 11-13-2012 06:24 PM

Lots of talent for sure. I kinda saw a cobra coming out of a rope basket. In any case a superb piece.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View gbear's profile


517 posts in 4248 days

#7 posted 11-13-2012 08:29 PM

Very nice…definately a winner in my club (i’m the only member!)

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2324 days

#8 posted 11-13-2012 08:48 PM

I like it a lot! This looks fun to unpack in a picnic!

View peteg's profile


4388 posts in 2972 days

#9 posted 11-13-2012 08:54 PM

nice job Brian & great use of the materials provided :)
Well done

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2989 days

#10 posted 11-14-2012 12:04 AM

A lovely piece. You have talent Brian. Thank you for sharing you work.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2763 days

#11 posted 11-14-2012 04:50 AM

Brian you are right you have a lot of talent in your club ,thats a stunning piece of work

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View murch's profile


1380 posts in 2773 days

#12 posted 11-14-2012 09:38 AM

I think this is a very attractive project that I will put straight into favourites.
Thanks for posting.

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

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