Fine Woodworking Live Holds its First Build-Off
On the evening of Friday, August 9, 2013, eight teams of diehard woodworkers took to the floor of a makeshift, carpet-covered workshop at Southern Connecticut State University for Fine Woodworking Live‘s first annual “Build-Off” event.
Each team of four was cut loose by FWW editor Asa Christiana, charged with the construction of an item of furniture that wasn’t announced until the last possible moment. Participants were given 90 minutes to construct…a chair…from a stack of eight home center 2×4’s. All eight teams finished in time. All eight teams worked their tails off, and all eight teams deserve a hearty round of applause.
In the end however, only one team could take home the championship belt–alright, there was no belt, but there were a few prizes. For their “his and hers” chair dubbed “Bromance” by the Fine Woodworking staff, Manuel Chaos, Alberto de León, José Luis G., and Dominic Ryan (team 3) took home the top spot.
Team of Expert Judges
Judging of the 2×4 build-off was carried out by a team of star-“studded” (sorry, I can’t help myself) woodworkers: Michael Fortune, Brian Boggs, Chris Becksvoort, and Lee Valley Veritas’ John Wilson. Although I wasn’t part of the judging, I did notice that “comfort” seemed to be the word of the day when looking at the winning chair, as well as the two runners-up. “Bromance” incorporated shaped back slats that curved right around your back–no small feature when your tools are a jigsaw and a drill/driver!
I Knew It
I hate to gloat, but I had a feeling early on that team 3 would take home the gold. Here’s why: most teams got started cutting and fiddling with parts right off the bat, but team 3 took a different tact-carefully planning out their chair in every detail, and marking all their parts, before a single blade made contact with the wood. Not a bad idea!
View the Entire Lineup
Here, in all their, uh, “glory,” are all eight entries from the 2013 Build-Off–in no particular order. Well done, ladies and gentlemen. This was no easy feat! You can click on any of the photographs for a larger view.
Members of the winning team gather around their creation. Clockwise from upper-L: Manuel Chaos, Alberto de Leon, Dominic Ryan, and Jose Luis G.
Team 4 placed with their bench: Tom Divilio, L.G. Smith, wayne Ricker, Albert Krasinski.
Team 6 also placed: Matthew Mosley, Greg Fedeczko, Stephanie Petillo, and Doug Slocum.
Here's what each team was given to start with: eight 2x4's and a pair of saw horses.
Bosch generously provided the tools, which included a drill, jigsaw, and plenty of batteries, bits, and blades.
Catching the right back angle on an oversized adirondack chair.
Attaching the arm of a bench.
Adjusting the angle of repose.
Competition was fierce! This guy was taken out by a flying 2x4! Just kidding. I believe he was trying to figure out the right angle for his team's chair back.
Yours-truly and FWW senior editor Matt Kenney try out the winning "Bromance" chair. Yeah, I was a bit uncomfortable with this positioning.