Bob McKee at the GNHW Woodworking Competition

  • October 26, 2023 4:35 PM
    Message # 13272085
    Ken Zoller (Administrator)

    Bob McKee entered a couple of pieces in the Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers woodworking competition last weekend and reports about his experience:

    New England Woodworking Competition

    Entering a woodworking competition is not something I had ever planned to do but the three judges of this event sponsored by the Guild of NH Woodworkers are all furniture-making heroes of mine. I thought “When in this lifetime does Garrett Hack evaluate my work?”

    Naturally I hoped that one of my two cabinets would merit a mention and when that did not happen I was curious where they fell short. So, as the evening wrapped up I approached Garrett Hack and asked if he would take a moment to critique one of them, which he was gracious enough to do. The five minutes he spent with me made the weekend worthwhile, so his comments are worth sharing.

    He said my case work was quite nice, but the cabinet was out of contention based on fit and finish details. He shared these examples.

    1.      I had used self-adhering rubber bumpers to stop the doors which had slipped so the doors didn’t close properly. Mr. Hack said the door stops should have been carved and installed, not purchased and applied.

    2.      I used Blum self-closing hinges, of which Garrett said, “They look cheap. You should use quality brass hinges.”

    3.      The top of my case behind the molding was not carefully finished. When I pointed out that the top would never be visible when the cabinet was mounted he replied that it doesn’t matter: “When on of my pieces is delivered to my client it might be upside down. Every part should look professional, finished.”

    As we were walking back toward the entrance, Mr. Hack offered observations about a few pieces that he admired. One was a simple box on stand that to my eyes was a 12” hollow cube on an unremarkable stand. To my surprise it had been awarded second place in its category. Now Mr. Hack pointed out meticulous construction details on the box, delicate scallops on the stand’s skirt, and the subtle shaping of the legs.

    The exhibit included four demilune tables, all nicely done with varying degrees of decorative embellishment. As we passed one Garrett noted that it was one of the best pieces in the show. When I pointed to a more intricately inlaid demilune that my wife and I had favored, he said it too was well done, but the other in his opinion was perfectly in balance.

    Garrett Hack’s critique has me reevaluating my approach. I’ve been focused on achieving visual impact with dramatic wood choices and good design, without worrying too much about precision in the details that I now see are needed to get to the next level. My next project will probably be a second build of the same cabinet design, incorporating some things learned during my first build while keeping Mr. Hack’s observations firmly in mind.

    I’m most grateful that late in the evening when he was probably thinking about dinner and a long drive home, this gentleman took the time to talk.

  • November 22, 2023 8:39 AM
    Reply # 13282498 on 13272085

    Bob, good for you .


  • November 24, 2023 9:39 AM
    Reply # 13283186 on 13272085
    James Russell (Administrator)

    Bob, I wanted to extend my thanks for sharing the invaluable insights and constructive feedback you received from Garrett regarding your piece. Your generosity in passing along this information will undoubtedly benefit all of us in our upcoming woodworking endeavors. It’s through this collective exchange of knowledge that we continue to grow and refine our craft. Your willingness to share is truly appreciated. 

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