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San Diego man wins Craftsman’s Challenge at IWF

Craig Thibodeau of San Diego won the grand prize in the 12th annual Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge.

Craig Thibodeau’s “Automation Table,” the grand-prize winner in the 12th annual Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge presented at IWF 2016.

Thibodeau’s “Automation Table,” an Art Deco design, impressed the judges with highly complex mechanical functionality and exceptional craftsmanship featuring pau ferro, maple and maple burl, ebony and various marquetry woods, according to Veneer Tech, a manufacturer of face veneer, sheet veneer and edgebanding in Newport, N.C.

Thibodeau won the design competition’s $3,000 top prize, recognizing excellence in veneer woodworking, plus $1,000 for an early deadline entry. Herzog Veneers won $2,000 as the veneer supplier and sales representative Julienne Barata was awarded $1,000 in recognition of participation in the supply chain.

There were nearly 100 entries this year, according to Alan Hubbard, sales manager at Veneer Tech, the contest’s sponsor. He says all were exceptional examples of fine craftsmanship.

“Just like every year, all the works entered this year, whether winners or not, were very impressive. The skills that some of these craftsmen have are just phenomenal and this year was one of the best as far as presentation goes was. We thought there was a good turnout and it was great to see some of the winners there,” Hubbard says.

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Category winners were:

Architectural Woodworking: Bespoke in Larchwood, Iowa, for “Transitional Paneled Office.”

Cabinetry: Paul Mann Custom Boats in Manns Harbor, N.C., for the interior of “Caught Up.”

Furniture: David Bondy of Rancho Santa Margarita, Cailf., for the “Coliseum Coffee Table.”

Marquetry: Ken Cowell of Yorba Linda, Calif., for “The Lady.

Specialty Items: Rolling Arts Bicycles of Burr Ridge, Ill., for “Meep-Meep.”

Student Design: John Ausel of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Quarryville, Pa., for “Federal Card Table.”

The entries in this year’s competition can be viewed at

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue.

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