Maybe the Best Bridge City Contest Ever?


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

– Henry Ford



First, a big thanks to all for the congratulations regarding the 2013 exhibition–your words and encouragement are really appreciated.


As you might imagine, there is a lot of work to make all this happen, and if you are going to work, why not make it fun? So, every now and then I will post some behind-the-scenes information so you don’t run out of drivel. We never want to run out of drivel… that would be bad.


Today I met with Nicole from the Museum of Contemporary Craft to discuss the educational component of the exhibition. We agreed that it might be really fun to have a couple of Jointmaker Pro’s in the museum workshop area making squiggle marble track. Then, much like our noisy video of the same ilk, we would, over a period of weeks and months, create a giant kinetic marble maze mounted vertically on the wall. The idea of course is to get people acquainted, or in some cases, reacquainted with non-powered tools and spontaneously create a collaborative, and fun sculpture for young and old alike.


Next, we discussed JMP projects and I shared with her the CAD drawings of the chess set I have been working on for the past couple of years. So it looks like that is going to be on display too. (FYI, for those of you taking my JMP class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking next Spring, you will make this project.) A pic of the King and Queen is below. All JMP cuts and block plane work–now you know how the Precision Fence System came to be…


This discussion awakened the muse. I proposed the following contest idea to Nicole; what if Bridge City sponsored a contest for those folks who own, or use a Jointmaker Pro? All you need to do is design and make a project that primarily relies on the JMP and the winning entries would be included in the exhibition and our upcoming book! Furthermore, if your work is gallery quality, Nicole is open to including your work in the sales gallery! How cool is that?


So that is exactly what we are going to do. If you like contests with meaty prizes this is a good one. All entries need to be received by April 15th, 2013–I picked this date because I know it is your favorite date. The museum curator will judge all entries.


So, what is gallery quality? At the bare minimum it is stellar craftsmanship–that is a given. Next, your work needs to evoke an emotional response–which means it needs to resonate, good and bad vibes work–the world is your oyster.


What if there are only four successful entries? Well, then I know we will sell at least 4 copies of our book. Unless of course the entries are all from San Diego…


Let the questions begin…



71 comments on this post:

  1. What a great contest idea, John! And I love the idea for the exhibit – a squiggle/marble wall. Fun! Perhaps you should have a bench set up with “traditional” saws for people to try to make their own squiggle wood without the JMP. Might generate sales…

    Congratulations again on the exhibition. I’m (we’re) very much looking forward to it.

    Maybe you should make squiggle pens using the DJ-1 to sell at the show. Just drill the blank, bevel one end, and squiggle away. Then just shove a ballpoint pen cartridge into the hole. Quick and easy. You could pre-engrave the BCTW logo on the blanks…

    – Peter

  2. Peter- Thanks. Maybe YOU should make some squiggle wood pens and submit….worse thing that could happen is you get rejected–and getting rejected ain’t all that bad.


  3. John,

    I’m in- with both feet!

    So now the questions: should we be thinking sculptural, furniture or either? Is there scale limitations? in theory, if we are allowed to mill stock on regular tools and then size and do joinery on the JMP, we could make some pretty big pieces. Is there a limit to the amount of entries each person can submit?


  4. John,

    One more comment; I would be thrilled to help out in the workshop in any capacity.


  5. Rutager-

    I am not judging–they are looking for projects that would be either not possible or very easy without the JMP. The piece(s) will travel with the show, so they aren’t coming home soon…

    That said, this is an incredible opportunity.

    Good Luck!


  6. Rutager-

    The educational aspect will run on weekends for almost six months–don’t you have a job?

    Very generous offer–thank you however!


  7. John,

    That was very helpful, I can do large scale joinery on my JMP, but I can also do it easily on a router table or saw, so not a good choice for the show, I’ll think more along the lines of thin kerf small scale.

    Thank you- I’m stoked for this contest!


  8. I do have a job, but I lip off a lot, so we’ll see.

    I was thinking more along the lines of taking a shift during the time I was already there visiting and seeing the exhibit.


  9. My brain is really sharp today, must have been the bike ride home. I just came up with 3 completely different jumping off points for JMP projects- can you get Michael to hurry up on those fences, I’m okay if he work nights and weekends too.


  10. Rutager-I don’t have mine either.

    We are going to set up the assembly line next week–and I am going to be on it for a day or so to make sure it keeps crankin’.


  11. any chance of the DSN seeing a demo video(s) for either the sliding parallel or tapered sliding dovetail kit in action prior to the closing date for pre-orders?

  12. Mike-
    Short answer is no and the reason is that it saves a lot of money–prototypes for video purposes can cost upwards of $20K– we paid 1K for the iron for example.

    We do small lot mfg runs. In this case if we completely prototyped this system and distributed the cost over the first run, it would change your price by over $100. We prototype using a proof-of-concept system and nothing more–in the end this keeps the price lower.

    Don’t forget, we have an unconditional money-back guarantee (that we rarely have to honor). I know it is not a perfect system from a customers perspective, but does reflect the reality of a small business in this banking climate.


  13. Lots of box turtles in the highway–we always stopped and relocated them. That, and at my age, lots of accidents in my pants… Interestingly, at my age today…

    Quit asking questions!

  14. Sounds like a great contest, John. In fact, I was designing a project that may fit this exactly the other day. I had to order the sliding dovetail kit and an HP8 to get it done. Now, if I had my fences, this could be really easy……

  15. Whoa!

    I’m in for this one! We MUST have the fence..We MUST have the fence…We..

    By the way John, your chess pieces are absolutely great. I remember our design class and thinking about “no matter what I come up with, there is always going to be a better design”. This obviously was in your top 10%. You look at something and it either strikes a chord or it does not. These are beautiful pieces.

    I’m going to make every effort to visit MY PIECE which is showing in your exhibition in August…I know, I know, there is Rutager, Peter, Masood, Janet, and a host of others in this contest – who would turn down this challenge!

    Thanks for being a great potentate – it just gets better all the time!


  16. Hey John,

    Just a question:

    Did you design these chess pieces on CAD and then execute the cuts on the JMP OR did you find these by playing?

    Just curious.


  17. Dennis,
    I did the King by simply playing with my JMP– all other pieces I designed.
    Thanks for the kind words!


  18. So…Was it Peter or Rutager that convinced the museum to allow other entries? Will the JMP be displayed hanging on a wall??


  19. November 8th, John Economaki of Bridge City Tools announces a Jointmaker contest.

    November 9th, Starbucks Coffee announces a chain wide shortage of stir sticks.

  20. Just out of curiosity, is it one entry per San Diego, or can cities have multiple entries?

    – Peter

    P.S. Rutager – how well does bacon cut on the JMP?

  21. DSN beware, Masood and I are currently in talks to team up on an entry to be built when I visit his studio this winter ( visit, yea right, I don’t plan on leaving- our secret, don’t tell Masood!)


    Bacon cooked right doesn’t need to be cut, it crumbles and melts in your mouth.


  22. Hmmm. Meat that crumbles and melts in your mouth? Somehow that just doesn’t sound very appealing, even for molecular gastronomy.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you and Masood come up with. You both certainly have the tools!

    – Peter

  23. Masood is certainly a “secret weapon”! I’m not so sure I would have let that cat out of the bag Rutager. What week will you be there. the rest of us can stay in the house!

    The DSN

  24. John,

    As I have now come up with 21 solid ideas, all of them very creative, it appears that I have shook off some of my mid-west sensibilities and embraced a bit of west coast wild eye thinking, although you’ll still need to pry the meat and potatoes out of my hands Economkai.

    Along with all these cool ideas and the excitement that comes from working through and visualizing them in my head, comes the realization that as far as this contest goes, I may already be a “winner” because of how it is opening up my eyes to great designs and ideas, I can’t help but to look at objects and think about how they could be turned into a cool piece of woodworking, hard to put a price on that.

    Thanks John,

  25. Dennis,

    The secret isn’t that Masood and I will be forming an unholy alliance, no the secret is that Masood won’t be able to get me to leave! You guys can have the house, you’ll probably have to use manners and be civilized in there, nope I’ll be sleeping in the barn.


  26. Remember John, I need lots of ideas so I can reject most of them and only built the best ones.

    List of tools:
    JMP- got 4, check
    AMP- check
    Bevel gauges- lots, check
    HP-6- plenty plus soles- check
    HP-8 with planing skids- check
    Precision fences- no, but Michael is working day and night to get me mine.
    Kerfmaker and Tenonmaker- check
    Okay, I’m just about ready for this thing, my practice pieces just might also help check some people of my Christmas list too.


  27. Rutager-

    Why aren’t you making things as opposed to hanging out on the totally awesome and worthless blog?

    Don’t answer. Results talk!


  28. If I do a project that makes it to the museum, can it be offered in a “silent auction” with the proceeds benefiting the Shriners Hospital in Portland?

  29. Rutager,

    So you are more like a “shop knome” Just hanging out in the corner space and re-arranging all of Masood’s tools when he isn’t paying attention…?

    I wonder if the blog will “brown out” when the fences arrive? Everyone will HAVE to participate in the challenge because no one will be providing drivel to the DSN. John will post updates into the void – no answers or bounce back. this could get serious folks…

  30. I would also donate whatever I made to a good cause- heck, the brain trust that is the DSN will probably make such awesome and desirable pieces that there sales would generate millions for research and treatment!


  31. In addition to the fences, I’ll need my DJ2 as ordered. Then I’ll have all the tools & materials. Only time and skills need added….until the next tool.

  32. I don’t want to give too much away, but the sliding dovetail set will be needed now, too. If I could still get a CT15, this would be a piece of cake!

  33. John,

    What a lovely exhibit that will be!
    And what a motivational contest!
    So one question?
    Will there be a wax-life size effigy of Michael at the exhibit sporting a Bridge City Shirt and Cap?

  34. John,

    I’m not usually let into fancy gatherings; will it be “black tie?” If so, will you be selling “Quality is Contagious” imprinted tuxedos on the web site?


    P.S. I’m up to 22 project ideas and one of them is a doozie- not sure I have the ability to pull it off.

  35. So…Rutager…
    that is 2.2 actual projects using John’s rule of thumb…It is about 2 ahead of me!
    Looks like our fences are getting close!

    I have to take my hat off to you Rutager. You are really cranking on this one. I guess if you are going all the way from Minnesota to Colorado to practice on this you need to have some really good ideas in your tool chest. I hope to spend some quality time on this during the Christmas break.

  36. Dennis,

    Start riding your bike long distances, really gets you thinking, for instances, “why am I riding my bike long distances?” After that you can steer your thoughts to crazy JMP based stuff. I will only be bringing my “B” game to Masood’s since it might be a trick to steal my brilliant ideas.


    Slightly off topic, but since the fences will be on the truck soon, could you give us the quick run down on zeroing the scales to the blade? I never thought to look at that aspect at the WIAs.


  37. So… Who can help me with the Mexican “Mac ‘N Cheese” recipe? I’m a real novice here so I need a LOT of help.


  38. Rutager,

    I need to buy a bike first! I have a two wheeled thing but it has 1,500 CC of engine on it. Will that count? I suppose with the weather this week it might as long as hypothermia doesn’t set in..

    PS: I think you may be right about Masood. He seems a little shady to me….JUST KIDDING Masood…

  39. Dennis,

    I can help with a few of the ingredients, I know it contains poblano and jalapeño peppers and four cheeses: I only remembered 2; cream cheese and Velveeta.

    Good luck, please share,

  40. John,

    You need to be more careful with your #1 tool buyer here.. You need to stop saying NO all the time and start saying something like “it will come with your next order”.. He WILL bite on that one!

  41. Michael,

    I’m not much into tuxedo’s as Rutager is, but with the recent weather in your neck of the woods I’m thinking there may be some high quality BCT rain gear coming?


  42. Dennis,

    John always says yes to Fred.

    Now go figure out that mac & cheese recipe; we’re getting hungry.


  43. Rutager

    22 ideas?!! You will need a few more JMP’s and HP6 bodies.

    Can you share the issue number for the Popular WW article that features you? Or the cover photo if it is not you in a tux?


  44. Neil,

    Apparently the PW folks think that Tommy MacDonald is better looking than me and decided to put him on the cover. The issue is #201 Dec. 2012. Of course I already shared how to make the inlays on the BCTW forum, so you guys are way ahead.

    22 ideas came out of some intensive brainstorming while the contest was fresh in my mind- I wrote every one down and will see which 3 or 4 need to be realized. I have already ordered a duplicate HP-6 sole to modify or destroy, depending on if my vision is good.


  45. Rutager,

    Kidding aside, the only way I know how to have a great idea is to have many ideas–and most will be discarded.

    Can’t wait to see what you cooked up.

    I have also heard from Peter Franks and apparently he is having trouble sleeping because of this contest.

    Dennis, I would enter your stamp boxes–they are cool.

    DSN: Wake up and enter!

    I hope you folks realize how cool this could be… Should be fun!


  46. John,

    I guess I have dibbs on that one. I did plan to do that. I’m also working on a new idea or two. This really is the best opportunity!


  47. Geez Peter,

    If you are loosing sleep and you took the entire rare wood contest without breaking a sweat, it looks like Rutager’s 25 ideas are not out of line (or nearly enough)! Heavy hitter in the ring now guys!

    I have to go – I’m falling behind fast.


  48. John,

    I know we still have lots of time and most of us probably haven’t made anything yet, but do you have any more information on how we get our entries in?


  49. I will announce something real soon–they have to be in before the book goes to press–probably the first of March.


  50. OK,

    that just pushed the pressure meter up a bit. I was thinking more like May or so. Thanks for the tip John!


  51. John,
    “I will announce something real soon–they have to be in before the book goes to press–probably the first of March.”
    How does this bode for the “metric minority” recipients of the Precision Fence?

    Realistically speaking?
    (I’m hearing rumors from the depths of Portland)

  52. John,

    Your hard work paid off and my fence arrived today. Thank you.

    My mind is still working hard on this contest, although it has switched from generating ideas to refining my favorites.

    Pin gauges are on their way and the HP-6 sole I modified works as I wanted.

    My trip to visit Masood is also falling in place- we will either end up making a cool entry or getting arrested, anyone’s bet at this point!


  53. John,

    I’m a kid again- couldn’t wait to get home to play on the JMP! I got the feeling that I had in junior high, when I just couldn’t wait until school let out to get home to my 150 in 1 electronic set, you know the ones where you push wires and components into sockets to make simple circuits. I would do my homework on the bus so I could spent the rest of the day wiring. What a great feeling, now if someone could let my bald spot know that I’m young again!


  54. Rutager: I still have the fingerjointed wood box of my brother’s 100(?)-in-1 kit (they were plastic when I got mine). Did you know they make a 500-in-1 kit now–by my reckoning it’s a 333.3% upgrade.

  55. David,

    Pretty cool, I didn’t know how much of that sort of stuff was still available; here’s hoping the science kits out number video games and smart phones this holiday season!


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