[Maker’s Note Subplot] Introduction to ROCKLER CHALLENGE series

by Yun-Han Lin


We mentioned a radio program called Modern Maker Podcast in [Maker’s Note- Subplot] Learning Materials, one of our articles before. Since 2017, that program has been holding woodworking competitions every year for the public to sign up. While the 2021 challenge is underway. I think it would be great to go over the competitions over the years, in terms of its purpose, value, and the winning entries.

2017: Two 2×4 Challenge

YouTube: 18 videos; Instagram: 297 posts

The rule for the first year was to finish your project using only two pieces of leftover bits that are 2×4 inch. The three creators organizing this event hoped to encourage everyone to share their creativity and work through the competition. Although there were not many contestants, many of them were recognized and became famous for making their first video of their productions. For instance, there were Modustrial Maker, who I like very much, as well as Evan and Katelyn.

I was most impressed with the table made by Kevin Larouche. I like the style of the design and the video, where there were details on their process during production and the problems encountered.

2018: Plywood Challenge

YouTube: 65 videos; Instagram: 1,749 posts

The theme in 2018 was plywood, where contestant could only use a 4×8 ft plywood to build their project. I had been following news on the competition, yet I did not have many tools and ideas at that time, so I did not sign up for the event. For the contestants, Woby Design and Jonny Builds made their name in the gmae, who I am also quite fond of.

Perhaps the theme was rather easy, so the quality of some finished works was not that good. I like the DIY coffee table in the herringbone pattern by OSO DIY, who was also one of the winning teams that year. Back then, not many people used stacks of plywood to make the colored pattern, and OSO DIY used it as its advantage to emphasize different colors of plywood, which most people would want to hide.

2019: Bentwood Challenge

YouTube: 80 videos; Instagram: 1,576 posts

Bentwood was the material chosen for the event in 2019. The three creators had the idea of building a database of bentwood processing, so that more people would try to use such material in their works. Although the number of submitted works and their videos was unprecedentedly high, most of them did not get my attention. It was probably that I have not tried that many bentwood projects and I am not trying to build one recently.

The work winning the first place was a bentwood bicycle produced by Komar Project. It was impressive, but it had gone beyond my imagination. I could only admire it, instead of learning its concept and trying to building one.

2020: Desk Challenge

YouTube: 71 videos; Instagram: 1,549 posts

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the theme was desk design to encourage everyone to optimize the design of their office or study. We talked about this topic in the Podcast program last year. We did not have many thoughts about the designs in desks, and we still do not have one now.

The winning design was the work by Max Pointexter. The work itself was not that outstanding, but he built 99 tables for the disadvantaged families and children, so it is not surprising that he won the first place! In addition to these works, I recently noticed a mechanical table with a hidden surface for doing puzzles. I believe it would have won the first place, if it had signed up for the contest!

2021: Hobby Challenge (in progress)

The ongoing #rocklerhobbychallenge takes another step towards practicality. The theme is about using woodworking to build something that can be used for your other interests. The three creators hope to promote woodworking and DIY practice to various fields. Since the competition is still in progress, there are few videos for our reference, except for the demonstrations by the three creators. What kind of work would you build, if you signed up? Hurry up and think of something; you might still have the chance to join the contest!



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