Working within limitations - 5 minute build challenge?

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Forum topic by SalvageCraft posted 06-24-2014 12:03 AM 2474 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 3817 days

06-24-2014 12:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: contest tips challenge limits design planning plans plan trick

Hey all,
I have this crazy idea for a woodworking contest. I’d like to do a “5 minute build”. Basically the challenge is to plan and design a project that can be built in 5 minutes or less, not including finishing.
I think this would be a great opportunity for people to exchange ideas on how to make the most out of their shop time. I often only get fifteen minutes here and there in the shop and am always trying to think of ways to get the most done in that time.
I’d like see how everyone else deals with that!
Entries would need to be accompanied by a build video filmed in real time.
Safety would be a high priority of course. The object is not to rush through the project as fast as possible, but rather to work creatively and efficiently within the limitations. The rules would allow for prepping materials to a degree and setting up tools and equipment for each procedures beforehand, but the clock begins at the first cut and ends at the final joint.
I often think about all the time I spend scratching my head and pondering the next step in a project. While this is a beneficial and enjoyable part of what we do, I look forward to seeing the different approaches everyone might take with these limitations.
So, what do you all think?

-- Jesse --

34 replies so far

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2964 days

#1 posted 06-24-2014 12:12 AM

I can make a beveled edge guitar pick in 5 min.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View MarcRochkind's profile


12 posts in 2725 days

#2 posted 06-24-2014 12:36 AM

Instead of measuring the result by time, which encourages rushing (dangerous and counter to the mental approach that one should have with woodworking), measure it differently: Fewest number of cuts, or simplest joinery, etc.

View bigblockyeti's profile


7793 posts in 3011 days

#3 posted 06-24-2014 12:40 AM

Would chainsaw carvings qualify?

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View higtron's profile


279 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 06-24-2014 02:04 AM

I think the concept is good, the 5min. time frame seems a little tight, I think a one day build would be fun though.

-- A friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move a body

View Loren's profile


11324 posts in 4939 days

#5 posted 06-24-2014 02:28 AM

5 minutes is very tight. 1 hour would be fun, with caveats
like you could pre-thickness material.

With pre-thicknessed material I could probably build a dorky
stringed instrument in an hour, except for glue cure time.

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 3817 days

#6 posted 06-24-2014 03:06 AM

@MarcRochkind – I think one of the rules would have to be no rushing. Blatantly unsafe practices would result in disqualification. If this doesn’t discourage the nogoodniks from going too far then they’re probably bound to work in that fashion anyway regardless of the contest.

@Loren and higtron – I’ve posted this idea in a Facebook woodworking group as well and gotten a lot of responses about 5 minutes being too short. I might make it ten. Although I can think of several five minute builds that could be done, ten minutes might open it up to more entries. Perhaps there could be a separate category and time limit for hand tool only projects.

@bigblockyeti – I think chainsaw carvings would qualify! I’d like to see as many ideas come through as possible, as long as people are respecting the tools and being safe!

-- Jesse --

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3671 days

#7 posted 06-24-2014 03:38 AM

I’m thinking I could turn a top in 5 minutes if the stock was already roughed.

-- Rick M,

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 2856 days

#8 posted 06-24-2014 04:13 AM

5-10 minutes to me screams hand tools only. In a contest ego will out weight our own shop safety methods. Setting up a band saw or table saw would eat into half that time on a tricky cut. A contest to me means stellar work, or the best possible outcome to what someone can accomplish. I don’t believe this can be accomplished in 5 minutes with power tools.

Most of my wood enters my shop pretty rough sawn. I couldn’t get a board to dimension in 5 minutes. Maybe I’m too slow or I suck at the trade.


View bobkberg's profile


442 posts in 4364 days

#9 posted 06-24-2014 05:13 AM

I don’t know about 5 minutes, but I did make a quick job of a small coffee table in a little less than 2 hours.

I’m laying out the steps here because (being safety minded), I really don’t think 5 minutes offers enough time to do anything substantial, most steps take a lot longer than we think when we’re doing it, and it’s REALLY bad manners to greet your guests while wearing bloody bandages.

- Draw and cut oval top on bandsaw (or saber saw) out of plywood.
- Draw and cut out 4 “L” shaped legs out of 1×6
- Sand all pieces with 120 grit using random orbit sander
- Assemble, glue, nail including braces underneath to have each leg brace the others (They don’t show)
- Lacquer based sanding sealer – 2 coats, sanding with 150 grit in-between coats (Large fan on high after)
- Final rubdown with steel wool
- Cover with nice piece of cloth from wife’s sewing cabinet.

Nothing to write home about, but we had company coming that night and it took less time than it would have to chase down through multiple furniture stores, and certainly met the need at the time.

If I had planned the entire operation first (I didn’t), I could probably do it safely in 1 hour, maybe a little less, but that’s about as short a period of time that I’d consider being able to do a decent job safely, not to mention being any sort of demonstration of woodworking skill.


-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2964 days

#10 posted 06-24-2014 06:53 AM

5 min is good for a real time video. Many things can be done in 5 min. Cut a mortise or a tenon by hand, dress a rough board by hand, make a glue joint by hand, it goes on and on.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4095 days

#11 posted 06-24-2014 11:45 AM

It takes me 5 minutes to stand up!! LOL

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 3817 days

#12 posted 06-24-2014 12:07 PM

I wasn’t expecting anyone to make a full table (though it might be possible depending on your standards :)
The idea is more about exploring how much CAN be accomplished in a short amount of time when working creatively and efficiently with a good plan and preparation, rather than about working fast to fit ten gallons of sawdust into a 5 gallon box…
Some projects that I can think of would be a coaster, a simple box, a trivet, maybe even a single joint. People have mentioned other things too, like the guitar pick or the top.
The guidelines would allow for roughing of material beforehand and setting up tooling such as dado blades and fence positions, etc. beforehand.
To further reduce the temptation to suppress through dangerously, maybe the 5 minute theme can be more of a suggestion than a firm rule.

-- Jesse --

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3958 days

#13 posted 06-24-2014 12:22 PM

That sounds like one of those stupid TV shows where peaple are constrained by time to accomplish a task .
My point is we are for the most part doing wood work for enjoyment and to relax and not to put the pressure on ourselves .
Many of us have gone to using hand tools to get the satisfaction and feel and get closer to the wood they are working with .
I have retired for one good reason TAKE THE PRESSURE OF AND ENJOY MYSELF !!!

-- Kiefer

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 3817 days

#14 posted 06-24-2014 12:50 PM

@kiefer – I definitely know what you mean. This challenge wouldn’t be for everyone. My own shop time is often my down time, but at other times I enjoy a challenge too! The time limit isn’t meant to put any pressure on the build though. The idea is to put a focus on getting more out of less by focusing on making the most out of a simple project.
Thanks for your input!

-- Jesse --

View j_dubb's profile


196 posts in 3099 days

#15 posted 06-24-2014 01:09 PM

I’m totally in, and I’ve actually finished up my first 5-minute project. Do I just submit it here in this thread? I’ll post my plans and all the steps below, you’re welcome to add them to a formal list if one exists.

Project Name: Custom picture frame

1. Find pencil and framing square to begin dimensioning wood.


Any and all feedback is welcome. Thanks for looking!

-- Josh // "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

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