Young Maker Competition. The Result

If I were to suggest to you that, running a National Competition to find  “the most deserving young woodworker” would give you sleepless nights what would you say?  Yet here I at sit with warm laptop on my knee and a dog snoring under my feet. It is 3.30 in the morning.

I hate being judgemental. Setting up a competition for young people starting out in life, then judging who amongst them should not win has put me on a spot that I find interesting if not totally uncomfortable.

I blame Chris Schwarz, if we did not have a superb tool chest made by him at a two week class this summer we would not have had a prize to give. Then we filled it with tools, after all whats the point of an empty box?  If  it is not tools that work, good hand tools,  a young maker really needs, then what in the name of Bejaysas is it? Maybe a bit of instruction .

So we filled the box with the best we could afford. Some suppliers like Workshop Heaven gave generously but mostly we bought, begged and robbed tool chests at Rowden. Some great tools were given by enthusiasts, men towards the end of their days, passing on good tools to a young maker. This was special, I know that, having a hand tool that has been used by a skilled hand for forty years, makes me feel better when I come to use it.

Then we went public, Tegan Foley at Good Woodworking, a great british magazine, put out the call for applicants under 25  to get in touch. The deal was the finalists would be given a free BASICS  One weeks course at Rowden worth £750, put up at our expense and each would get a prize. We worked out the tool chest with contents had cost something over £3000.00.

I sat and waited but NOBODY applied. We put it in again a month later and the same thing happened. Young people do not its seems read magazines. Then I put out a Face Book advert and they started to pour in . By the end of November, our cut of day, we had over seventy young, keen, talented makers, banging on my door. HOORAY!


tool chest above shot

Most Deserving Young Woodworker…… Now I was in trouble. How do I sort this out? I had a bit of information on lots of people, so all I could do was short list then ask Tegan to review my selection . I pulled the seventy odd down to ten. If you got lost in that process I apologise. What we wanted was someone who needed those tools, really NEEDED them. So college students, those already making were put aside. Some really skilled young makers bit the dust here. The selection was even so, not accurate, as we chose on limited information and one of our finalists turned out to have a shed load of tools. (he didn’t win)

What i wanted was to put these tools in the hands of a young maker who would honour the idea . These where carefully selected expensive hand tools. Things not to be polished and displayed, but cared for and used with knowledge and skill. Used on a daily basis to make things. I did not want this tool chest to turn up on eBay!

We selected three young makers Katherine McConnell, Matt Deneffe and Ben Eddings . They came down for a week at Rowden and we have just finished. Read about what happened tomorrow.







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