Contest is now completed.
CLICK HERE to view the results.

The competition:
Make a functional woodworking tool.

There's an old saying that you can never have enough tools. True enough, we often reach a point in a project where we need a tool we don't have. Necessity being the mother of invention, many woodworkers rise to such occasions by designing and fabricating their own custom tools, occasionally with impressive results -- in terms of functionality, ergonomics and sheer ingenuity. In this contest, we are looking for tools that you have designed and built for yourself, whether for a one-off, single purpose or as an addition to your general tool arsenal. We don't want you to submit stunning new inventions that may include patentable features, as this could prevent you from securing a patent at a later date. We do want tools that are finely crafted, comfortable to use and/or aesthetically pleasing -- preferably a combination of all these qualities. Your entry can be as simple as a striking knife or as complicated as a fancy plough plane.

Only amateur craftsmen are eligible to enter this contest. You need not be strictly a woodworker; metalworkers and other toolmakers are welcome to enter, but the official entry must be a woodworking tool. An amateur, for contest purposes, is someone who makes less than 25% of his or her income from the sale of their handmade or production tools. International entries are encouraged.

Judging criteria:
There will be three (3) "first" prizes in this contest: one for craftsmanship, one for utility, and one for aesthetics. Judging will be "hands-on," with all members of our judging panel in attendance. Judging criteria will include technical achievement (craftsmanship), design elegance, ergonomics, performance, originality, problem-solving excellence, materials selection and engineering. The judges' decision will be final.

To Enter:
At least three photos of your entry, but not more than five are required. Our online entry form allows you to include descriptions for each of your photos. Please tell us anything about the conception, creation or functioning of your tool that will be informative to the judges in their deliberations. Once we have received your online entry, we will send you an e-mail accepting your entry. This e-mail will include instructions for sending your accepted entry to Lee Valley Tools headquarters or designated judging venue, where the final hands-on judging will take place in late March.

The prizes:
  • Lee Valley Tools will award three cash prizes of $300 each to the winners and $25 Lee Valley Gift Certificates to five runners-up. All entrants will receive Lee Valley lumber thickness gauges.
  • Popular Woodworking magazine will award a free one-year subscription to all entrants and a lifetime subscription to the Grand Prize Winner, selected from the top three entries.
  • Fine Tool Journal will award a free one-year subscription to all entrants.

    The judges:
  • Brian Ebbinghaus is a veteran industrial designer with many international design projects to his credit. He is an educational advisor to the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Director of Design and R&D at Lee Valley and Veritas Tools.
  • Clarence Blanchard is the publisher of Fine Tool Journal and president of the Brown Auctions, the leading auctioneer of vintage woodworking tools in North America.
  • Chris Schwarz is the editor of Popular Woodworking magazine, a woodworking video presenter, and a well-regarded hand-tool expert and tool aficionado.
  • Wiley Horne is a retired engineer, utility manager, amateur furniture maker and tool buff. He is co-moderator of the WoodCentral Hand Tools forum.

    The contest is now completed.
    CLICK HERE to view the results.


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