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Local woodworker wins national cabinetry contest

CUTTING UP — Jake Wozniak (right) is pictured with Tommy Macdonald of the television show “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.” Photo submitted by Wozniak.

SPRINGVILLE — Jake Wozniak has been making cabinets since he was in seventh grade at Springville Middle School. By the time he was a freshman at Springville-Griffith Institute High School, he had his own cabinet shop. Fast forward four years, and Wozniak is on his way to an international cabinetmaking competition in Brazil, after advancing at what he called “a pretty rapid pace.”

A former Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES cabinetmaking student, Wozniak first won the New York state SkillsUSA competition, before he advanced to the national contest, held this year in Kansas City, Mo. Next, he had to qualify to go international.

At the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial, held at the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers Fair 2013, in Las Vegas, Nev., Wozniak competed against two other top-scoring national SkillsUSA cabinetmaking students, for the chance to represent the United States at the WorldSkills 2015 competition, held in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

The competitors worked in a fully-functioning 1,600-square foot cabinet shop for 27 hours in total, to build an advanced cabinet that included a door and a drawer box, hand-cut dovetail joinery, veneer, edgebanding, built-in drawer slides and hardware installation, according to a release by AWFS.

The project plans were developed by a team of industry professionals and educators and modeled after professional drawings and the official WorldSkills competition plans. The students’ projects were scored by industry experts and Wozniak was announced as the winner by Tommy MacDonald of the PBS show “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.” First runner-up was Brett Sidesinger, a student at Washburn Technical Institute in Topeka, Ky. and the second runner-up was Caleb Floyd from Warner Robins High School in Kathleen, Ga.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT — Pictured is the cabinet that won Wozniak a spot in the international cabinetmaking competition, to be held in Brazil in 2015.

Wozniak was chosen to represent the U.S. in an international contest, as well as winning more than $5,000 in woodworking equipment donated by Woodcraft and others.

“I was really happy,” Wozniak said, of winning the qualifying round. “It feels good, like I’ve accomplished something. It was a lot of hard work.”

During the next two years, Wozniak will undertake a two-year training program, to prepare for the 2015 WorldSkills competition.

“I’ll have to go through rigorous training to prep for the competition. The hard part is that it’s in a different country, so I’ll have to learn their way of doing things,” he noted. “I’ll have to learn in metric. In Brazil, they do a lot of hand-work; it’s very craftsman-like. I’m used to a production style with machines.”

Wozniak, who nows works at Paul Riley Wood Products in Elma, said he first learned woodworking from his grandpa.

“He taught me the basics, and I liked it a lot,” Wozniak said. “Now, I do woodworking every day. I read a lot, get all the [woodworking] magazines. I guess you could say I’ll be training for the competition every day.”

“It’s so impressive, to have a hometown boy competing in a national competition,” said Diane Smith, a friend of the Wozniak family. “He’s such a great kid and our local kids work so hard, they deserve to be recognized.”

Wozniak currently lives in Springville.

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