Rockler Plywood Challenge

Chris Salomone, Ben Uyeda, and Mike Montgomery like to make things—anything. They like to think outside the box and encourage others to do so. Salomone describes himself as a “husband, designer, woodworker, sandwich artist…and podcaster.” Uyeda is an architect with a degree from Cornell University and awards for green and sustainable house designs and stuff that goes inside them. Montgomery is a woodworker who via his website encourages beginners and intermediate “makers” (none of the three want to limit your inspirations to just wood) to use his projects and plans to launch their own ideas into the material world.

From workshop to cyberspace

They get together once a week to talk, share ideas, drink beer, and open the discussion to the public via The Modern Maker Podcast. (If you’re too old to know what a podcast is, they’re kind of like Internet TED Talks, where anyone can sound off and be famous for 15 minutes. You ask, what are TED Talks? Oh, never mind. Just check out Uyeda’s talk.) By extension, they have deep interest in tools, which explains their partnership with Rockler Wood­working and Hardware in creating the first Rockler Plywood Challenge, a brilliantly simple competition anyone could enter. (For insight into proper plywood joinery, read our story A Lesson in Tolerance).

Make anything – but from plywood

Courtesy PC Makes

The judges said third-place winner “Standup Paddleboard” by PC Makes showed “stunning design and incredible craftsmanship.”

The rules: make anything from a single sheet of plywood (any kind), and post a photo of your entry on Insta­gram using the hashtag #RocklerPlywoodChallenge. Entries had to be submitted by last May 31. The boys above were the judges. In a press release announcing the winners, Salomone said, “We were absolutely floored by the quality and quantity of participation that this challenge garnered. And when I think about the thought and execution that went into some of these projects, it blows my mind.”

Mine, too. When you look at the photos, I think you’ll agree. Oh, and one is a boat…well, sort of. First place was a table, second was a chair, and third was a paddleboard. More than 100 videos were posted on Instagram and 1,300 total posts. The partners expect to host another competition in 2019, so stay tuned for details.

Rockler’s marketing manager, Nathan Ensminger, said, “It’s as if every parti­cipant challenged themselves to transform a basic building material into a work of art.” Indeed.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, 4365 Willow Dr., Medina, MN 55340 USA, tel. 800–279–4441.