WJ Reader Ideas Needed: Raise the Bar (By Adding Some Wood!)

Among woodworkers, there are some projects that are “classics” — whether the woodworker in question has built them or just has them on a mental “someday” list. Sometimes, it seems as if nearly everyone has built, or wants to build, a guitar, a wooden boat … or a bar for the basement.

If that woodworker was participating in the “Raising the Bar” program of George Dickel’s Tennessee Whiskey, they’d be building a pretty fancy bar. It might, for example, include using whiskey barrels for barstools — or even the front end of a classic car for the bar front.¬† Those are just a couple of examples from the real-life teams competing in this event, which is now a film series on Hulu .

Team bar-building? Competition? Yep, and there’s a chance for Woodworker’s Journal readers to get in on the action, too. Tell us your ideas for what to add to this bar to make it cooler — anything from specific types of glasses to specific types of stools — and, if your idea is chosen as the winner, you could see your idea come to reality. (Here’s a thought from your editors: since you’re Woodworker’s Journal readers, we’d suggest something made out of wood.)

Further details? OK. First, the backstory. Whiskey company George Dickel’s slogan is “Handmade the Hard Way.” It refers to their 25 employees personally overseeing every step of the distillation process. To promote that slogan, they partnered with the producers of such TV shows as “Deadliest Catch” and “Storage Wars” to film six teams of real-life craftsmen — woodworkers, metalworkers and more — building bars at the 2012 American Royal World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri. Each team had just eight hours to build what they thought would be an impressive bar. “Most of my projects take exponentially longer,” said Kansas City woodworker Kirk Brown. “You can’t make anything really well, really fast, just like you can’t make whiskey real fast.”

Some teams went in with design ideas; some didn’t. They had access to some handheld power tools — like a circular saw, jigsaw, planer and battery-powered drills — and they brought some of their own tools. “I brought a hand plane,” Kansas City woodworker Kirk Brown said, “and thank goodness, because we ended up using it when we plowed over the cord of the power planer.”

Afterward, producer Thom Beers’ Original Productions company turned each of these builds into a video for the Hulu series. And public relations company Taylor Strategy assigned each of these teams to a partner publication — randomly, you will notice. Which is perhaps why the assigned “Woodworker’s Journal” team is one that incorporated no wood into their build, except the stand for metalworker Kyle Moody’s anvil. (Not that we’re bitter.)

Moving on. Each partner is soliciting ideas from our own team — that’s you, Woodworker’s Journal readers — for additions that will “raise the bar” further for our assigned bar. Examples? Replacing the glass in a traditional shot glass with redwood (a shot wood?). Or adding rockers to the bar stools. Or … ? We’re waiting for your ideas, which will be submitted to Taylor Strategy on Monday, April 15. They’ll be judged on a) originality and creativity; b) representation of true American craftsmanship; and c) the “cool-ness” factor: something you’d want to show off to your friends.

Whatever’s picked as the winning “Raising the Bar” item will actually be made, in a set of eight. If it’s a Woodworker’s Journal team item that wins, they’ll send us the eight items — but we’ll share with our readers. We promise.

So, watch the video of “our” bar (and the other ones, too, if you’d like — some of them incorporate wood) and send us your ideas for additions. You can share in the comments to this blog post, on our Woodworker’s Journal Facebook page, or by emailing us at editor@woodworkersjournal.com. Let’s “raise the bar” on (woodworking’s) creativity!

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About Joanna Takes

Joanna Werch Takes has been at Woodworker's Journal since 1998. Her work includes writing and editing for many print magazine departments, among them the "Stumpers" mystery tool department. Joanna is also a frequent contributor to the Woodworker's Journal eZine. Joanna's previous experience includes work as a newspaper reporter. Her woodworking has consisted of small projects such as toys and a storage box. She is active in the Women of Today service organization.

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