Contest Categories #1: Is it fair?

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Blog entry by LittlePaw posted 02-01-2010 11:28 PM 2433 reads 0 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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When I logged on this morning to start voting for the LJ contest, I couldn’t help feeling that something is not quite right. I am not criticizing the Contest itself. I think the Contest is a great idea to promote woodworking and friendship among us woodchips all over the world. It can only be done over the Internet with the right site. Not even the best print magazine can come close to what the LJ is providing for us. That’s definitely an “Atta Boy”!

What I think it’s not quite right is to lump all categories of woodworking, all levels of skill and experience, from the first time novice to the professional masters in their field. If you‘d allow me to draw an analogy, wouldn’t it be like pitting an occasional backyard griller against the Executive Chef, or a sub-compact against a full size sedan, or a pickup truck against a motor cycle? Someone’s first attempt at a cigar box, no matter how beautiful it turned out (for example) won’t stand a chance against the best of the best (such as Gary of the Lazy Susan)? On the flip side, to compare the accomplished Lazy Susan with someone’s first attempt at anything just doesn’t seem fair or on the level playing grounds. What do you think?

So, what IF the contest were to be divided into different categories such as:
Boxes – of all sizes; some of us have achieved unbelievable results by making just boxes
Furniture – general home furniture, desks, chairs, tables, except workbenches
Workbenches – we make one in a life time, unless you’re in that business
Musical Instruments – this is an area probably most of us won’t even attempt or have the skill and experience to even try.
Turnings – bowls, vases, plates, pens – obviously this is limited to those who have lathes and require a whole different set of expertise
Carvings – is it fair to put these in the same category as furniture?
Toys – are great and fun, but on a whole different world from musical instruments or cabinetry, aren’t they?
Caricatures – this too is in a world of its own, from the type of wood (very soft) to the skill level
Inlays, marquetry – take the Lazy Susan for example; isn’t it the best of the best? So, how many of us would even attempt it, much less be compared against it?
Cutting boards, Bandsaw & Scrollsaw projects
And perhaps even more categories

You might argue that LJ is about having fun sharing experience and knowledge in woodworking and not about any serious competition. Sure, but still, would you want your backyard football team to go against the Dolphins or other such teams? What do you think? Don’t get mad, guy and gals. It’s only a topic for discussion at the fire place, y’know!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

36 comments so far

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 4136 days

#1 posted 02-02-2010 12:01 AM

As someone who is just finding out I can do some nice woodworking, I decided not to enter because of the others high level. I just figured there was no way to compete, if I am not at that level. So I am with you on this.

--, Making design and application one. †

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5482 days

#2 posted 02-02-2010 12:07 AM

Well You would need many additional givers of the prizes to have 50 different categories. And we’ve always wanted to have people strive for their best.

I would rather have 450 entries of everyone giving it their best shot. And no one making their own decision as to “I don’t think it’s good enough, so I’m not even going to enter”

Just my opinion.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4672 days

#3 posted 02-02-2010 12:14 AM

Doing it your way with the different catagories still puts amatuers against experts. So it doesn’t really solve the problem, it just means the site has to come up with more prizes.
We can’t forget about popularity either. For instance, if Joe blow made the exact same lazy susan as GaryK, or a project of the same high quality and superb design, then who would win? GaryK because he is the recognizable one.
There is no way of changing how the game is played. The best you can do is do your best. Put your heart into the project. I’ve seen plenty of projects built by new woodworkers that far exceed some with experience, simply because they have more passion in their piece. Essentially, you don’t have to have ample experience to win, and therefore it makes it fair here at lumberjocks for everyone to be included without trying to “divide” us by skill level.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 12:20 AM

We all like to think of ourselves as honest. But If you broke it up into Different Skill Levels who could say the Executive Chefs would not Lowball as Backyard Grillers just to Get some free Prizes.

Besides who would say wether you are a chef or a griller Anyway.

But you do have some valid Points, We would all like a perfect world , or would we?

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4730 days

#5 posted 02-02-2010 12:22 AM

as mentioned above, even sub categorizing would still result in having people with extreme experience differences in the same category, and you’d need so many more sponsors for the prizes.

instead, I’d like to think about entering a contest as an experience… a drive… inspirational. trying to go the best you can, and just be a part of it. regardless of winning or not.

from my experience here, the contests are mostly an uprising of the vibe, and bringing something new to the table more than the attempt at winning something.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 4136 days

#6 posted 02-02-2010 12:25 AM

Yea, guess I never thought of some of these things. I still am leary about entering something, yet, but we’ll see with the next contest.

--, Making design and application one. †

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4773 days

#7 posted 02-02-2010 12:34 AM

what you fail to see is that we all know there are woodworkers at different levels but thats what makes this site the best and as far as i know LJ’s judge on merit not your skill level yes there are master craftman here and LJ’s just starting out but that doesnt matter here i for one vote on what i like and yes i see who has made it (we all have differnet friends on here) but the skill level doesnt come in to it .
I think everything on here is way above my skill level but it doesnt stop me having my opintion or showing what i can do granted i wish i was as good as most on here but i get that with time and the support from you guys so forget about who is better than the other and just vote on what you like ok thats the point of it

jezzzzz i dont think i have ever writen so much in one reply LOL…........


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4773 days

#8 posted 02-02-2010 12:37 AM

Dennis just do it mate i for one will appreciate what you have done

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4206 days

#9 posted 02-02-2010 12:40 AM

I do understand what you’re saying but also agree that the categories would be so vast it would be impossible to include everyone.

I’ve all but quit competing after comments (in categorized competitions) like “Let’s not vote him for People’s Choice, he’s already won enough” or “I wish he would quit and give the rest of us a chance” started to be thrown around. I’ve lost competitions with my fancy-dancy hockey themes to a tiny carved sparrow and I’ve won against fabulous full sized herons, with a single pair of carved sneakers so it all seemed based on that person’s or judge’s particular interest.

I’ve found LJ’s to be a place where I can come to find humble folks who don’t hold back their compliments if they consider your ability to be higher than theirs, don’t hold back compliments on your lesser quality pieces and don’t hold back their support if you need help or just seem to be fed up with the whole thing. I consider my entry in the competition as ‘participation’ and support of LJ’s rather than a reflection of or judgement of my ability.


View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4867 days

#10 posted 02-02-2010 12:43 AM

I think that the contest are fun and exciting to think that maybe I could win. But in truth knowing I probably dont have a snow balls chance in hell of winning. I entered the contest to support it and be apart of it.
If we dont enter what we make, novice or expert how then can we become better at our hobby?
I say enter your best project along the lines of the contest and forget it….You maybe suprised with the outcome.Its not like its a milloin bucks or anything….so have fun LJ’s and good luck to all those that entered.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4160 days

#11 posted 02-02-2010 01:27 AM

Amen to all of the above! Everyone has at least one valid point and no one is totally wrong – including me, I hope. While I agree that it’s not possible to separate “level of expertise” as a category, how about separating the categories by item, such as beds, tables, boxes, turnings, etc. where wood turning would not be competing with marquetry, or boxes against musical instruments, etc? Wouldn’t that make more sense?
Well, we’d have to come up with a lot more contributors for prizes, thus more winners – that’s even better – more excitement! How about all – or some of us – try talking LJ up and see if we can drum up more prizes for the next contest?

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5328 days

#12 posted 02-02-2010 02:21 AM

I agree that no one is equal in terms of professional aptitude. However, that being said, I think everyone realizes that and takes that into consideration when voting, I mean most of us older guys have been on here long enough that we pretty much know a persons skill level. We take that into consideration when voting. If we see someone has progressed way beyond their skill level we would definately acknowledge that fact with a vote. I think it comes out fair. We wouldn’t want someone like me winning. LOL

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4659 days

#13 posted 02-02-2010 02:25 AM

I guess I’m out of it , I don’t know were to vote or veiw the projects.


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5242 days

#14 posted 02-02-2010 02:27 AM

there’s been several discussions about this very topic—and how wonderful it would be to be able to provide a variety of categories, but there are limits and pros and cons for all options.

Support for the current arrangement include the following points:
1. it’s an Awards event—recognition not a competition
2. the category was created to acknowledge “creativity” vs “skill level” .. voting (by us, the members) will determine the rest
3. although there is the honour of being an Awards Recipient and the great prizes of course, the main goal is a group event that inspires and unites
4. as for prizes, there are three t-shirts being given to random entries so there is always a chance of winning something.

On a personal note, so far, since I’ve joined, I’ve entered every challenge and awards event – not in hopes of winning, not even a slight chance of winning, but for my own enjoyment and challenge. For me, to build something that fits a category title is an achievement in itself. And I can say, “I was part of that!”

Thanks for the discussion .. it’s good to keep the ideas flowing for future possibilities.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5242 days

#15 posted 02-02-2010 02:30 AM

here's the entries

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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