Woodcraft’s “Build It!” Sweepstakes Winner Attends Jory Brigham Design Workshop

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Jory Brigham (left) and John Malecki (right) with Woodcraft sweepstakes winner Bruce Kuveke during Bruce’s all-expenses paid bench building class.

Bruce Kuveke of Boulder City, Nevada, has a few new woodworking tricks up his sleeve, his very own SawStop Professional Saw and a sweet looking custom bench, thanks to winning the “Build it! with Jory & John Sweepstakes” in May. The contest was sponsored by Woodcraft, in partnership with SawStop and Jory Brigham Design. Bruce and his guest, Forrest Kammerzell of Riverside, California, attended an all-expenses paid 2-1/2-day furniture building class at Jory Brigham Design Workshop in Paso Robles, California, on October 25-27 as part of his Grand Prize package.

The winners name was randomly selected from more than 26,000 eligible entries. Retired with 21 years in the US Air Force and another 22 years with the US Postal Service, Bruce considers himself to be an amateur woodworker. 

Workshop instructors included furnituremaker Jory Brigham and Pittsburgh-area builder John Malecki, along with Cleveland metal fabricator Jason Radcliffe from 44 STEEL, who all aided the class in the construction of their wood and metal benches. Jory also has two assistants at the shop – Garett, who teaches metal fabrication at the local community college, and Tyler, who built his own tiny home where he lives nearby with his wife, three dogs and a cat.  

WOOD AND METAL: A WINNING COMBO

Jason Radcliffe discusses TIG welding at the beginning of day one as John Malecki and class attendees take it in.

The bench building class includes TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding and powder-coating instruction in addition to woodworking basics. “The more materials we learn to work with, the more we can perfect our own unique style,” Jory said. “The older we get, the less we tend to do things we’re not comfortable with, so adding new dimensions like metalworking opens up a lot of design possibilities.” 

Jory assists Bruce as he assembles the slats for his custom wood and metal bench.

During the weekend workshop, the eight-man class rotated time in the welding trailer with construction time on the wood portion of the benches. At the beginning of day one, Jory told the class, “My goal is to get you guys to use as many tools as you can this weekend.”

Friday’s tasks consisted of stock selection, sizing and sanding all wood components, layout and glue-up, and practice welding.

METAL FABRICATION

Jason, John and Garett teamed up to instruct the TIG welding portion of the class. The first welding sessions were practice welds using 1/8" steel plates. John said there were three things everyone could expect to hear while working on their welds: “closer,” “slow down” and “more filler.” 

Woodcraft’s Andrew Bondi, Director of Multi-Channel Sales, gets welding tips from John Malecki.

Class attendees Nicholas and Daniel (seated, L to R) practice their welds with supervision from Garett and Jason.

On Saturday, they used what they had learned the previous day to weld four subassemblies that would be used to hold the bench legs and create the metal banding along the tops of the benches. Once the sections were welded up, the guys used angle grinders to clean up the welds and polish the metal with a higher grit.

Though class attendee Daniel found his first experience with welding to be stressful—“it’s hard making one hand coordinate with the other hand”—he said he enjoyed opening his mind to new ideas.

Bruce receives one-on-one instruction from welding instructor Garett.

Bruce and San Francisco art studio owner David polish up their welds with the angle grinder.

ROUTING & SANDING

The workshop stayed busy as the guys took turns prepping the wood for finish, with assistance and supervision from Jory and Tyler. Once the glue-ups were complete, the benchtops went through the Timesaver planer/sanding machine to sand to size. At that point, each person routed all of the wood so there were no sharp edges.  

Nicholas, a strategist for Electronic Arts from the San Francisco Bay area, routs the edges of his bench.

Bruce uses the router to soften the edges of the boards on his benchtop.

Greg, another San Franciscan and AirBNB Plus engineer, sands the wooden legs of his bench.

Using a router and several preset jigs and fixtures, the class members routed channels into the tops of the benches for the metal banding.  They also cut mortise and tenon cheek cuts on the tops of the wooden legs with the bandsaw to allow the wood to fit down into the welded metal assemblies.

Tyler (center) attaches the jig on Bruce’s bench as he and Jory look on.

David routs out a channel for the leg assemblies on the underside of his bench.

APPLYING FINISH

The projects in Jory’s classes are primarily finished with Festool Surfix boiled linseed oil. The team hand applied one coat to the wooden benchtops and legs and let dry overnight on Saturday. The following morning, another coat was wiped on.

Andrew took advantage of the beautiful weather and added finish to his project on the back deck of the workshop overlooking the California hills.

Daniel, married and the father of a four-year-old son, works for Google in San Francisco. He took the class to allow himself some “focus time” on his hobby. Here he applies a second coat of Surfix.

Bruce, David and Forrest applying finish to their benches at Brigham Design Workshop.

POWDER COATING & HEAVY METAL

Everyone was encouraged to powder coat their metal using one of a dozen colors provided. Powder coating is a dry finishing process that uses finely ground particles of pigment and resin to create a protective finish. The technique bypasses the dry time of traditional spray painting, making it ideal for a class like this, while providing excellent durability.  

With a nod to his welding instructor John (a former Pittsburgh Steeler), Andrew did the only two-tone combo with yellow and black, shown here in his favorite team colors.

David sprays his leg supports with a light green powder coat.

Color choices included light blue, black and yellow.  

Bob, an attorney from San Francisco, selected an interesting treatment for the metal of his bench: a muriatic acid wash which created a very cool rust effect. He said his wife Inga is a fan of Stephen Bruce’s acid wash art, “so I knew she’d like that.” Bob’s choice of teak over walnut, which the rest of the class chose, was unique and stunning in combination with the muriatic acid wash. They plan to place the finished bench in their koi pond area.

Bob’s muriatic acid wash finish looks fantastic with the teak wood.

Bob makes a few adjustments to ensure a proper fit of his metal components.

FINISHING TOUCHES

On Sunday, the last day of the 2-1/2-day workshop, it was time to put all the pieces together and make final adjustments. The two metal pieces were attached to the bench tops. The legs were fitted into the metal assemblies and then screwed into underside of the bench.

Greg is shown dry-fitting the olive green metal components to his walnut bench.

Forrest attaches the black metal leg assembly to his bench.

Finally, each student levelled his bench’s legs by use of a Festool TS Saw and T-Track. The ones who lived close enough were able to haul their completed benches home with that at the conclusion of the weekend. Bruce. Forrest and Andrew made arrangements to have theirs shipped. Now, to find that perfect spot to show it off!

Bruce levels the bottoms of his bench legs with a Festool TS Saw and T-Track.

Bruce puts the final touches on his custom bench as Jory looks on. 

A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER

Grand prize winner Bruce couldn’t be happier with his sweepstakes experience. “I had a wonderful time. I learned quite a bit by working with Jory and his crew,” Bruce said. “Someday, with enough practice I hope to be able to make things similar to the bench on my own.”

His buddy Forrest, a hobbyist woodworker who retired from the City of Santa Fe Springs, California, said, “This class has been awesome. I learned a ton. The instructors were very patient.”

As the weekend wrapped up, the other members of the class all shared feelings of accomplishment and camaraderie. “I have always wanted to incorporate mixed media in one of my woodworking projects,” Andrew said, “and this particular bench offered just that! Learning how to TIG weld from industry professionals was an experience that will be with me for years to come.”   

Working in the hospitality industry for AirBNB Plus, Greg said he was looking to find a craft. “I want to use my hands and my mind in a different way besides behind a screen.” He took one of Jory’s stool classes earlier this year and came back for the bench class in October. He is planning to bring his dad back for another class in early 2020. “Jory and his team create such a special sense of approachability and hominess that is really unique. And you walk away with an awesome piece of furniture you didn’t know you could build.”

Attendees and instructors Forrest, Nicholas, Tyler, Andrew, Jory, David, Bruce, Tyler, Daniel, Bob and Greg with the weekend’s completed batch of benches. (John not pictured.)

Click here to see the full list of Build It! with Jory & John Sweepstakes winners: Nevada Man Wins Woodworking Class of a Lifetime. 

To read about our previous sweepstakes winners experience, check out this Woodworking Adventures blog: Sweepstakes Winner Attends Jory Brigham Workshop. 

Want to learn more about furniture building? Stop by your local Woodcraft store or look online for their current class schedule. You’ll also find lots of books, plans, videos and more to help get you inspired, in addition to all of the supplies you need. We’re here to help make your projects a reality! 

Congratulations, Bruce, and great job on completing your bench!

We hope youll be inspired!

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