Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 3
   January 2012
   WorldSkills Competition: Cabinetmaking

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.

Canadian national competition project
The author completed this hallway bench within 12 hours for the national competition

After 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 frame.
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