Stumpy Nubs vs. Charles Neil AUCTION RAISES $2,025.00!!!!

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Forum topic by StumpyNubs posted 11-08-2011 04:34 PM 6190 views 3 times favorited 103 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11-08-2011 04:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor resource tip maple walnut bandsaw planer chisel drill press miter saw router spray gun clamp jointer plane sander tablesaw carving milling shaping finishing joining sanding victorian modern traditional

The Results are in: The charity auction was held, and the winning box sold for $2,025.00- all of which will go to charity!

(Visit where the contest is the subject of the recent episode of Blue Collar Woodworking.)

Charles won the Form Catagory, Stumpy won the Function Catagory, and the tie breaker…............ Charles won the Joinery Catagory. The total score was 2607-2329… SO THE WINNER IS: CHARLES NEIL!!! (Full breakdown is at the bottom of this content, please take a few minutes to read it!)

Charles Neil and I discussed having a thread to give some of the details about the projects once the votes were in and everything was announced. You can also weigh in, good and bad as long as it’s polite,we really want your toughts now that you know the makers and the results!

First, I want to once again thank Charles and Sherri for their participation. They have been class acts! I also want to thank everyone here on Lumber Jocks that participated by offering their votes during the judging phase. I thought all of the votes were fair, and the best box won!

If I was voting like all of you did, here are my honest ratings for both boxes.
BOX #1 (Charles Neil)

Form- I got to see his box before anyone else, and when I did, I instantly knew that whatever chance I had of winning was gone. The form alone was just stunning. I especially liked the way the sweep of the sides carried up into the maple center of the top. And the finish was flawless. A good solid 10.

Joinery- I understand as well as anybody how hard it is to get a perfect miter joint, but with the high end power tools he has (although he didn’t always have nice tools as he himself has said), it is at least a bit easier for him. I was really expecting to see some dovetails, but that would not have worked with the box style. I really didn’t like the reinforcement strips inside the box corners, which are difficult to see in the photos but would be obvious in person. With all that said, there were no flaws that I could see, but because it was utilized joints that a well tuned machine can make with reasonable ease (assuming he didn’t cut it by hand with a miter box) I give the joinery an 8.

Function- The box was very functional, and would look beautiful on an end table. But beauty is covered in the “form” score. So here we have to judge on how useful it is for the stated purpose. If I was a judge, I would really be looking for something that was specific to the living room. It will certainly hold a remote and some other things, but not in a very organized way. Some people commented on the secret compartment being redundant. I think it was intended to be a curiosity, and like it very much, no matter how few things could fit in there. I’d stuff it with thousand dollar bills myself. I felt like it is a box first, an end table organizer second. Because of that I give it a solid 7 in function.

NOTE- These scores are not out of line with what very many gave the box, so it isn’t based on my personal bias. I welcome Charles to rate mine, even though I suspect it won’t be nearly as high as I rated his because he has a professional eye for these things, which I lack.

BOX #2 (Stumpy Nubs) Since it is my box, I get to give a more detailed explanation of my process…


Because of conversations with Charles, I gathered that he would be making a standard lidded box. I knew that box would be exceptional, so if I was going to have a shot at winning, I had to take a risk and make something truly unique. Frankly, I was surprised that I didn’t get more points for making my own innovative design which pushed the limits of what people were expecting. I rolled those dice and it didn’t work out. Too many people didn’t like the art deco look, and that hurt me more than anything. But if I had it to do over again I would take the same risk, because I was never going to beat Charles head to head on a simple box.

The idea of the form was inspired by the art deco radios of the 1920’s and 30’s. Those radios were inspired by the iconic skyscrapers of the era- the Empire State Building, etc. So I wanted a sense of height. That’s why the clock was small. Originally I was going to put a bigger clock in the center of the front. But a tower would have a small clock toward the top, and it would also give the sense of looking up at something far away.

The choice of wood was based on the style of those clocks. Many of them were a dark plastic material called bakelite, which I imitated with the black walnut. Using contrasting woods on the outside, as some suggested, would have distracted from the form, which was supposed to draw the eyes UP like a tall building. My scores were greatly hurt by the small amount of sapwood. I personally like walnut sapwood, and left it intentionally on the back edges. It is found evenly on both sides of the box, but the photos don’t show that. I could have stained it, but I hate to use any stains or dyes on walnut. The wood is just too beautiful to alter. I know professionals will argue that sapwood should be avoided, but in walnut, I disagree.

I also wanted to really challenge myself by using scrap firewood for the project. It would have been easy to go to the mill and pick up some flawless walnut. But I think it is a lot more difficult (and that’s part of what this was all about) to take wood everyone else considers junk, and mill it into something beautiful. These weren’t logs, they were the 1 to 2 foot reject cutoffs that the mill throws away. One of the workers takes them home and sells them by the cord for firewood. I bought a ton of it and dried it for three years. The surprise is you never know what you have until you mill it. You seldom get perfectly clear pieces.

Someone said the drawers were not grain matched. That’s not true. All of the parts, including the doors were resawn from thicker stock and book matched. The drawer fronts were all sawn from on thick piece. The fact is, the pattern on spalted wood changes the deeper you get into the board. But the colors (darker on the top, lighter on the bottom) were consistent.

Finish- A lot of people simply hated the finish. Some said that Charles would NEVER allow a piece with raw wood to be seen. Well, that was unavoidable. I’m not going to be accused of making any excuses, so I’ll state the simple fact. Something came up and I ran out of time. It has one coat of oil just to bring out the grain. Before it is given away it will be properly finished. I know that hurt me more than anything else, but it is what it is…

All of these things together make up the “form” category. Other than the finish I was very pleased with the form, it was unique, it’s features had distinct purpose that, unfortunately, were not evident with the photos, and that’s why I give it an 8.


One of the very first comment left said they saw some putty on the dovetails. There are two kinds of hand cut dovetails- hard ones and impossible ones. Anyone who has ever tried to cut dovetails with spalted wood understands what I mean. It is “punky”, the sharpest saw tears it, the sharpest chisel smashes it. And then it all crumbles on the delicate ends. It can’t be done without some sort of stabilizer. That’s that they saw. In real life, unless you knew it, you probably wouldn’t notice it. One thing I am good at is cutting dovetails (I learned from Tommy MacDonald if anyone else wants to learn). But what would clearly be cheating with hardwood, is impossible to avoid with spalted wood. That’s another risk I took in this project, and I would still do it because I love the spalted drawer fronts.

This project had almost every kind of joinery, which was intentional because I was trying to showcase my abilities- again, that’s what a contest is for. Besides the dovetails there were the tiniest dados I’ve ever cut in the drawers, which held in the floating solid wood bottoms. Rabbets were used to attach the major panels, which revealed a bit more end grain than some wanted to see at the top of the box sides, but I thought that preferable to seeing it on the box top when someone is standing up in the room. Miter joints would have eliminated this problem, but my table saw is of lesser quality than Charles Neils’, and miter joints along a long edge like that would have taken ages to perfect. Miter joints were used on the ribs where they wrapped from the front onto the top. Butt joints were used on the side blocks where they met the bottom panel. The only joint not used was mortise and tenon. I was quite pleased with the verity, and aside from the issues I mentioned, I think the joinery was as well done as a 3rd year woodworker could ever do, that’s why I gave it an 8.


This is where I really wanted to stand out from Charles, and it’s where I did the best in the voting. I began the build with the function in mind first, the form and joinery was second. I thought hard about what I would like to have hidden away in a cabinet. One think I hate is a box of kelenex sitting in full view. So it was essential that it go in there. The box’s size was based around that one thing! I also wanted separate drawers for separate things. Remote controls, video game controller, whatever you may not want on the end table where your dog can get it to chew on. Finally, and almost as important as the Kleenex was for it to function as a valet. I want to put my wallet, wrist watch, pens and pencils, pocket change, whatever is poking me in the leg when I sit down in a safe place. One of the drawers works perfectly for that. So the usefulness of the box is extensive, and I thought it really excelled in that area.

The size is another issue for some, and I can understand that. When you want to fit a lot inside, especially that Kleenex box, you do have to make it a bit large. But in reality it is just over a foot tall, less than 6 inches deep, only 9 inches wide. It looks much larger in the photos.

Some have said the way it opens is awkward, and having to lift the lid AND open the drawer to get the remote is too much. However, it is intended that the most often accessed items would be kept in the top tray, not the drawer. But I agree with the lid being a bit awkward. In fact, the original design called for bi-fold drawers in the front rather than a hinged lid on top. It was changes at the last minute because someone made a lucky guess based on their misunderstanding of a comment on one of the threads. They took it to mean that I was saying I was making a cabinet. I didn’t say that, but the person took it that way, and he was right! He then posted that on the public forum, which would have ruined the entire surprise about who made which box. So I had to alter the design or risk compromising the purpose of the contest. I do like the lid, it has a really nice fit when slips down over the front. The edges slip into slots behind the blocks on the sides of the box, so you really can’t tell that there is any opening to the “radio” at all. But it is a bit clumsy and would make it impractical to place the box directly against a wall. That hurt my socre in my own mind and is the main reason for my giving it an 8 in function.

Anyway you add it up, Charles won, even I voted for his over mine. The best box was #1, without question! But here’s the actual stats on the voting-
We voted on three catagories because we didn’t want this to be a simple up or down vote. It is nice to know which box excelled at which catagory.

FORM: Charles won this easily. He recieved a score of 911 while Stumpy got 749.
JOINERY: Charles won this too with a score of 913 to Stumpy’s 790.
FUNCTION: Here Stumpy won with a score of 790 over Charles’ 783.

The total scores show that Stumpy at least was able to hang with the best (Charles): 2607-2329, meaning Charles won by a bit less than 10%. The average total score (people’s three scores added up) was a close 26.1 points per vote for Charles, and 23.3 points per vote for Stumpy.

(Note: Charles requested that a handful of votes be disqualified to avoind a conflict of interest. I chose only two that I thought were clearly in violation of his wishes. It changes the score very little, but it was very important to avoid any appearance of tampering!)

CHARLES NEIL vs STUMPY NUBS: The motion picture…

Charles and I have both talked about making a film to document this process. It will be part of an upcoming episode of The Stumpy Nubs show for shure, and I think Charles may be working on something soon, so stay tuned. It woul dbe fun to see the actual workshop proces, with all my sarcasm and dangerous push blocks- wouldn’t it?

Auction: The charity auction is going on NOW- GO BID FOR A GOOD CAUSE! It broke a thousand bucks by 10:00 this morning!

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS (now that the makers and the winner has been revealed)- GOOD AND BAD (but NO ARGUING) BELOW. WE WANT TO HEAR THEM!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

103 replies so far

View bubbyboy's profile


137 posts in 3575 days

#1 posted 11-08-2011 04:52 PM

Jim, I thought you did a great job!! The time and effort you put into this should be applauded, Thank You very much for all your efforts it has been fun.

-- I just don't understand. I have cut it 3 times and it is still to short.

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 11-08-2011 04:55 PM

Well done stumpy.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3663 days

#3 posted 11-08-2011 05:13 PM

Congratulations to you BOTH !
Fine work and a real blast to follow the trash talkin’, the whole process.
And gee, not that far apart in judging by a jury of your “peers”


-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View StumpyNubs's profile


7827 posts in 3683 days

#4 posted 11-08-2011 05:15 PM

Thanks! It has been a looooooooooooooong week and a half (almost), and it’s not quite over yet. But I would do it again in a heartbeat! (Even though I would still lose!)

I can’t thank Charles and his people enough!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View rrdesigns's profile


541 posts in 4068 days

#5 posted 11-08-2011 05:30 PM

Thanks for the detailed info. I enjoyed watching the contest reveal itself like fish on a line waiting to be weighed. It is unfortunate that, for whatever reasons I can’t imagine, a few people felt the need to spoil the fun with nasty comments. I’m glad you and Charles rose above it all in the end. I look forward to more posts from you on LJ’s. They are often enlightening and your humor always keeps the ball rolling. Kudos to you.

My condolences to you and your family for the recent loss of your father-in-law.

-- Beth, Oklahoma, Rambling Road Designs

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


118142 posts in 4459 days

#6 posted 11-08-2011 05:35 PM

It’s all over but the bidding Charles box is up to $1025 lets hope it goes much higher because the proceeds goes to Wounded Warriors


View mikema's profile


180 posts in 3468 days

#7 posted 11-08-2011 05:37 PM

Stumpy, you and Charles both should be very proud of the effort you guys put into this.

Both projects are very well done, and show a show a lot of effort that went into them. It is also good to see that both projects are going to benefit someone in need.

That said, Stumpy I am very sorry to hear about your family’s loss, and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

It was fun watching this unfold. Well done!

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 3444 days

#8 posted 11-08-2011 05:38 PM

A big thank you to Stumpy for organizing this event and congratulations to both of you!

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4073 days

#9 posted 11-08-2011 05:56 PM

Very good Stumpy, may I say I voted for your item!!!! I think most of us could tell the difference and knew the
Charles work from the stumpy work.

Lumber Jocks has a wide variety of skill levels from expert to beginner. I looked at this from the perspective of
how would it work in my house. In my house we have 14 remotes, and 3 TVs. I liked yours better because I
live in a 700 sq foot house and everything has to use space efficiently. We have grand kids, your box looked as if it would take a nice beating and keep on ticking.

Both boxes look as they could last for generations, both boxes had unique designs, both of you were excellent sportsman. I also preferee the original agreement that you were to exchange boxes. I don’t think that has ever
been done before on LJ’s.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 3522 days

#10 posted 11-08-2011 06:25 PM

Stumpy, will yours be auctioned as well ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Pdub's profile


926 posts in 4062 days

#11 posted 11-08-2011 06:28 PM

Congrats to Charles on the win. Stumpy, you should hold your head up high and be proud of your “box”. You did a great job!
Charles- I hope you get a boat load of money for your box/charity!

Stumpy- I’m sorry for your family’s loss! Stay strong.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7827 posts in 3683 days

#12 posted 11-08-2011 06:33 PM

David, the rules said the boxes would be given away. I later agreed, at Charles request, to auctioning the boxes, but on that very day (I think, I will have to go back to check the exact timeline) my father-in-law died and I decided that giving it as a condolance gift would do the most good. I assure you my box wouldn’t have brought NEAR what Charles’ box is. I can make another for charity if it will get people off my back about it, but I make more donations to good causes than anyone else I know, and this has nothing to do with me not wanting to support charity.

I know you didn’t say that, I just have gotten a lot of crap from a lot of people over it and I want the record set straight.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View ChuckV's profile


3333 posts in 4409 days

#13 posted 11-08-2011 06:44 PM

Congratulations and thank you to both contestants.

Stumpy – Thank you for all your time spent in both the building and the overall organization of this event. I am sorry about your recent loss.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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7827 posts in 3683 days

#14 posted 11-08-2011 08:01 PM

Thanks Chuck.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4753 days

#15 posted 11-08-2011 08:44 PM

Well it was fun, enjoyed it, win lose or draw it made for alot of fun and I see no winners or losers.

Im at a loss for all the big fancy equiptment stumpy refered to, I have looked all over and cant find it, the box was rough shaped with some router bits and then finished up with a pull shave and a hand plane, then some scrapers, and the miters were cut on either a chop saw or table saw, the secret to a nice miter is a good blade and a light cut, meaning, cut close then in a nice fluid motion, do the final cut,, “sneak up on it”. There was no sketchup or plan , just a thought and a scrap hunk of 12/4 tiger maple, and some curly claro walnut, thought, this will look good , so off I went, sized the box based on the yield of the wood and what I though would fit the bill, it will hold about 4 remotes ,depending on size, but for me I wanted something stylish with a little flair but not overwhelming , and the secret compartment was a “why not’, things like this sell products, I thought of a chest, but then decided that most end and coffee tables usually have a lamp or vase, and anything of height would compete, or in the case of a coffee table be a view obstruction ,so I elected to keep it simple.
Thats about it, not much else to say, so time to get back to making sawdust ( never stopped), and maybe we will do it again some time. Auction is running and hope it does well for the Wounded Warriors

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