Student wins Craftsman’s Challenge

09_table_01In a surprising accomplishment that reflects the quality of the next generation's woodworking ability, a high school senior in a WoodLINKS USA program at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough, N.C., was awarded the $3,000 grand prize in the 2009 Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge.

Awards for the contest were announced July 16 at a presentation held in Las Vegas during the AWFS fair. Andrew Prioli earned the top honor for "Inverurie," a walnut dining room table with inlays of curly maple, cocobolo, maple burl and walnut burl veneers depicting three stallions and Celtic knots. Certainly Wood, distributor for the project, received a cash award of $2,000, and salesman Jim Carroll received $1,000, in recognition of their participation in the supply chain.


And the winners are …


Other category winners of the 2009 Veneer Tech Craftman’s Challenge were:

Architectural Woodworking: Fetzer Architectural Woodwork of Salt Lake City for the Alice Tully Hall at The Julliard School in New York, designed by Diller, Scofidio & Renfro.

Cabinetry: Paul and Robin Mann of Paul Mann Custom Boats in Manns Harbor, N.C., for the sportfishing yacht Ann Warrick.

Furniture: John W. Harper of EMC Woodworking in Phoenix for “Office Piece.”

Specialty Items: Geoffrey Kaiser and Bruce Grimes of Santa Rosa, Calif., for the grand piano, “Sunset on the Aegean.”

Store fixtures: Mark Ramsey of Tahiti Cabinets Inc. in Anaheim, Calif., for “Something Silver.”

Student designs: Michael Poorman of Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., for the dinner table, “A Poor Man’s Legacy.”

Special recognition: Chuck Sharbaugh of Sharbaugh Woodwork in Holly, Mich., for a standing cabinet, “Tribute.”

All of the winning pieces can be viewed at

"We were very impressed with the caliber of the student work. They gave the pros a real run for the money," says Will Sampson, editor-in-chief of CabinetMaker magazine, and one of three judges for this year's competition that rewards excellence in woodwork featuring natural veneer and wood product applications. "This speaks well for the future of the industry. We all should be looking over our shoulders at the up-and- coming talent."

Prioli will attend the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I., and major in furniture design major.

"This has been really exciting," says Prioli. "The entire process, from designing to building to winning top place with a student design entry, has been quite an experience."

Prioli took three years of woodworking at Cedar Ridge under instructor Keith Yow. "Andrew is an exceptional young man who works hard at everything he does," says Yow. "Three years ago, he took a little interest in marquetry and took off with it. He has taught me a thing or two." Prioli also earned honorable mention status in the 2008 Craftsman's Challenge.

The 2010 Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge begins accepting entries Sept. 30.

Contact: Veneer Technologies Inc., P. O. Box 1145, Newport, NC 28570; Tel: 800-593-5601.

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.