Team UK woodworkers achieved two top five finishes in Worldskills London 2011 dubbed the Olympics of the creative industries. 

In the vast East London ExCel arena, the size of six football pitches, teams from 50 nations worked against the clock in a wide range of skills from carpentry, joinery and cabinetmaking to bricklaying,catering and plumbing.

Joiner Adam Bushnell, 21, a recent graduate of Oxford and Cherwell College, was the pick of the UK woody bunch with a creditable Bronze for his neatly dovetailed set of spiral garden steps and wooden frame. Apprentice carpenter Joe Price, 20, who trained at Shrewsbury College, was one of a handful of fourth place contestants who each received a Medallion of Excellence. 

Chris Wallis, 21, an old boy of Chichester College, faced some really tough competition and looked absolutely shattered as the high noon whistle sounded at the end of the allotted 22 hours to build a cabinet with a veneered top, a drawer and a panelled door in European Oak. 

“It was tough – I didn’t manage to get the top on,” he wheezed to GW. Chris, who won gold at SkillBuild UK 2009, after taking bronze in 2008, wasn’t the only contestant in the cabinet making class who didn’t complete the job. He ended up 17th out of 22 contestants. Gold in the cabinet making class went to Richard Schauer (correct) from Germany.  

One of the cabinetmaking expert judges, Mark Bramer from Canada, said contestants were judged on use of hand tools and machines and they had access to a full range of power saws, planer/thicknessers and routers. Marks were awarded for individual elements such a mitred dovetails, veneering and mortice and tenons as well as for completed project.

“The overall level of quality among the contestants is really high. This year we have seen more contestants which I think reflects the fact that learning hand skills is becoming more popular.” 

One of the contestants stopped off at the adjacent Building Crafts College stand, which was offering visitors a chance to have a go at basic cabinetmaking skills. According to the College’s furniture maker in residence Ed Borastero he cut an immaculate run of dovetails in 22 minutes!

This year is the third consecutive year that the Chichester College has had a student achieve a place on Team UK in WorldSkills. Another Furniture student, Luke Griffiths, was highly commended in the 2009 finals held in Calgary, Canada. 

The next generation of Chichester star cabinetmakers is already on the rise. Edward “Woody” Harringman took silver last week at the latest Skillbuild final and hopes to be next in line for WorldSkills along with classmate George Callow and first year, Alex Morley.

You will be pleased to know Team UK did take gold in bricklaying, plumbing, stonemasonry and cooking.