Young Maker Competition – Finalists

Competition to find and encourage a young maker.

That was the objective some months ago, to find and help a young maker. We worked out that two of the obstacles that lay in front of any young would be maker are lack of good tools and lack of knowledge in how to use those tools.


Thank You Folks   So with the help of Chris Schwarz editor of Lost Arts Press and author of The Anarchists Tool Chest we set up a competition. Chris with help from Daren Millman at Rowden made a tool chest when he lead a summer school here at Rowden this August. That chest, which he sells in the USA for $4000, is part of the prize. Then we filled it with good tools. Lots of very good tools, probably over £2000  worth of good tools. Many we had in duplicate at Rowden, you know how you gather tools in a shop!  So they went in the box. Some were very kindly donated by makers all over the globe. Some were donated by suppliers, thank you Matthew at Workshop Heaven. Those individuals who did this, YOU know who you are, and I thank you. I will however just highlight J.P. who commissioned, had made, and sent me, a specially made set of marking out knives and awl from David Jeske at Blue Spruce. Thank you to David Jeske for doing such a wonderful job.  Chris Schwarz also sent a signed and leather bound copy of The Anarchists Tool Chest.  So a special thank you to Chris Schwarz.



We sent out the message that here was a great prize probably worth about £3000 with three finalists coming to Rowden for a one week course all expenses (other than travel) paid.  We go very little interest from our notifications in Good Woodworking Magazine. This suggests that young people don’t read magazines. Once the a FaceBook advert was put out and sponsored (at some cost) the applications started to come in . By the end of November we had over one hundred entries many to a very high standard. High enough to convince me that there are still young people out there who make stuff and are passionate about doing it. WELL DONE to every one of you. Choosing three finalists was not easy.

The criteria was this: If I put these tools in this persons hands would I see it on Ebay in six months time?  Or would they use these tools to go on and make extra ordinary stuff. Its a little like spoiling your children, tools have always been  acquired one at time with great sacrifice. First you borrow an older makers Wim Wam then, months later when he gets fed up of lending it, you get your own.  Would giving a great tool collection all at one go be just too much. Hell Knows.

Then there was the level of competence. We got some pretty smart dudes applying, young guys and gals from colleges who were being trained and well on the way. I felt that these people could still do O K without this, so almost all were passed over. If you recognise yourself here, please do not be disheartened, I respect your work very much and commend you for having the courage to put up for a public competition . You will be O K just keep on making.

The final three were taken from a short list, of, I think ten. Tegan Foley at G W helped me whittle this down and make the selection by giving me clear evaluation of each of the ten very good candidates

So, we come to the final three. Chosen not because they could make stuff but because they showed a passion for making. Because they had potential to make extra ordinary stuff. Each three will be coming here last week in January to attend a one  week “Basics” course at Rowden lead by Jon Greenwood and Rose Carter-Stout. We will watch them working see how they learn. I will talk to them about what they want to do and how they plan to go about it. At the end of the week we will compare notes and on Friday afternoon at tea announce the winner.

The finalists are Ben Eddings, Katherine Mc Connell, and Matt Deneffe.

This is what Tegan editor of Good Woodworking had to say about each of the finalists

Ben Eddings           An interesting chap and older than most, but with more of a raw skill in my opinion. I love the idea of ‘design anarchy’ and think this could make for some really interesting and diverse pieces. I also love the fact he’s self-taught and identifies with Chris Schwarz’s ethos. The techniques he shows are also very interesting – i.e. pewter over sandblasted fir and casting aluminum in wood. He is humble and I like that – who knows what he could create if given the chance.

Katherine Mc Connell          I like the fact she tries to fuse his love of illustration with woodworking – this really works in my opinion. I also like the fact she is currently doing an apprenticeship under a professional carpenter. Her work shows real variety and skill. The shelving she made is also fantastic! Plus, it would be great to have a female woodworker in the running, and judging by the calibre of the others, she is definitely the best.

Matt Deneffe              I like the fact he’s from Belgium and his work shows real promise. His hand drawings are excellent as well as the variety of pieces. I also like the fact he seems to know what he wants – i.e. a furniture making business in the future. A young man with drive is good to see! The fact he took part in WorldSkills also says a lot

Well done all of you who entered. I am sorry I could not give more honour to all of you who put up your work for judgement. It was very hard to rule lots of you out. WELL DONE . And well done to Katherine, Matt and Ben.


Good luck for week after next.




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