Editor's Note: WorldSkills International is a not-for-profit
association with the simple purpose of promoting skilled trades
around the world. Every other year, the organization hosts a
vocational skills competition. This past fall, 931 competitors
from 51 countries representing 46 skill sets competed in front
of an estimated 200,000 visitors over the course of four days.
This past October, I had the opportunity to represent Canada
in the field of cabinetmaking at the WorldSkills Competition
held in London, England. The event brought together the best
young skilled tradespeople from around the world in areas such
as carpentry, automotive repair, electrical installation, cooking
and hairstyling, just to name a few. This competition is comparable
to the Olympics but with tradespeople instead of athletes.
In order to have the honor of representing Canada, I had to
work my way up through the college-level competition, the provincial
qualifying competition and the Skills Canada National Competition.
At the national competition, held in Waterloo in May 2010, the
test project was a hallway bench. This project, which included
a variety of joints such as hand-cut dovetails, mortise and
tenon joints, dowels and angled bridle joints, had to be completed
within 12 hours and yet the accuracy and overall fit and finish
had to be nearly perfect.
author completed this hallway bench within 12 hours for
the national competition
winning gold at the national level, I had a year to prepare
for the WorldSkills competition in London, England. During that
time, I spent many evenings at my workbench practising hand-cut
dovetails, as well as other joints. The project chosen for the
competition was the Taiwanese proposal – a nightstand
suspended on side leg frames. It was chosen one month before
the competition, so I had some time to practice it; however,
the drawings were changed by 30% the day before the competition.
The changes made the project much more difficult technically
and made it tougher to get the piece done in the 22-hour time