About   |   Donate   |   Store   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join AAW
2017 Turning to the Future Competition
Share |

The application period closed May 1, 2017.


Turning to the Future is sponsored by the American Association of Woodturners (AAW). The competition is intended to encourage and support students and instructors in reaching for and attaining the highest levels of skill in the use of the lathe. The contest is open to students in North America.

There are two divisions, High School and Post-Secondary, with three categories each: Functional, Small Turnings, and Open. Five finalists in each division category will be chosen to have their work displayed at the 2017 AWFS®Fair in Las Vegas, Nevada. Work will be evaluated on craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal, creativity and/or utility, and process documentation. Application period opens March 10, 2017. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2017. There is no entry fee.



May 1, 2017: Application Deadline
May 19, 2017: Finalists notified


June 7, 2017: Deadline for shipping work to Las Vegas Convention Center
July 17, 2017: Day to personally deliver furniture to Las Vegas Convention Center
July 18, 2017: Final on-site judging
July19-22, 2017: AWFS®Fair; Finalists’ projects on display during the Fair, winners selected and announced




  • All high school students
  • Full-time, degree, diploma or certificate-seeking post-secondary students students, in an accredited woodworking, woodturning, art, or design  program (Post secondary schools include colleges and universities as well as trade, art and art schools.)
  • Part-time,degree or certificate seeking students who are transitioning into a career in woodworking or design.
  • Students must be at least 16 years of age by July 19, 2017.
  • All students, including those who have graduated, must have the support of their instructor and school where the work was completed.
  • Students who make their living (or substantial income) from woodworking careers are not eligible.



  • Entries are restricted to two (2) per student.
  • Project must have been built between May 2015 and April 2017.
  • All forms of turning are eligible, including but not limited to  traditional, multi-axis, segmented, and rose engine/ornamental.
  • Work must be no larger than 20” in diameter and 40” in height.
  • Project construction must be complete at the time of entry. The project may be lacking the finish coating, but student must specify in entry questions what finishing processed will be used. If selected as a finalist, the project must be completely finished before sending to the AWFS®Fair.
  • Students must disclose if they have used manufactured parts or if they have involved any other persons or companies in their process.
  • A student may submit a maximum of two (2) projects, but must complete a separate submission for each project.



The competition is divided between High School and Post-Secondary levels. The entry categories are as follows:

  • Functional - work created for use
  • Small Turnings - pens, small treen items, toys, small boxes, etc.
  • Open - creative, decorative, or conceptual pieces not meant for use



Judging is done by professional woodturners with extensive experience in the entry category they are evaluating.  All entries are reviewed by the judges prior to the AWFS®Fair to determine the finalists to be exhibited at the show.  Judges reserve the right to reassign an entry to a different category if they deem it appropriate.

The Judging Process:

  1. Judges receive anonymous online submission consisting of images and the students' responses to the online questions.
  2. Judges score projects on a scale of 1-5 for each of the 5 criteria listed below.
  3. Scores are tallied and projects with the highest scores within their category are selected as finalists.
  4. Finalist projects are further evaluated in person by AAW curator Tib Shaw and Program Director Linda Ferber at the AWFS® Fair. Winners are selected by the judges in consultation with onsite staff.
  5. Scores are tallied and projects with the highest scores within their category may be selected as winners as agreed upon by the judging panel.


Judging Criteria:

  1. Design innovation on original pieces; or quality of execution of a known style or variation.
  2. Craftsmanship of the piece including  quality of turning and construction, material choice and use, detailing, sanding quality, finishing quality.
  3. Functionality (if object is meant to be used)
  4. Appropriateness of the technique and design to the purpose of the object
  5. Aesthetics, scale, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis and unity.

**One additional point will be given during final judging if you include step-by-step documentation of your project. This can be uploaded as a PDF and will be displayed at the AWFS® Fair if your piece is selected.


High school and post secondary school entries are judged and awarded separately.

  • First Place (Per Category) $500
  • Second Place (Per Category) $100
  • Best of Show (one high school and one post-secondary) Midi-lathe
  • People’s Choice (selected by AWFS Fair attendees and exhibitors) $200
  • Judges reserve the right to skip an award level in any category if they so choose.

All finalists will receive a certificate of merit and are eligible to participate in the purchase guide and resume book for review by industry on-site.

Entry Instructions

Review entry steps below now to prepare for your entry. Registration period is March 1-May 1, 2017. You will not be able to fill out the actual entry form before March 10. Please also review “Finalist” section below for information on preparing the information sheets required if you are selected as a finalist.

  1. Schools/instructors must complete the online School Registration before May 1, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/AAW-School 
  2. Before beginning their online form, students need to have a completed release form in PDF or JPG format ready to upload. The same form works for both FreshWood and TTF. Release form.
  3. Students must register online between March 1 and May 1, 2017.  
  4. Students must answer the online questions listed below. Do NOT include your name, your school’s name, your location, or any other information that may identify you, your teacher, or your woodworking program when  answering the online questions. (NOTE: We highly recommend typing your answers in Microsoft Word first, then copying  and pasting your answers into the online form.)


  1. What is your inspiration for this piece? (If the piece is a reproduction, explain whether your intent was to make an authentic reproduction or if you have intentionally changed some details.) 
  2. What are your project goals?  Did you use a unique process, design element, or construction method? 
  3. Did you experience any design, turning, or construction challenges? How did you solve them? 
  4. What type of wood(s) or material(s)did you use? Why? What type of finish did you use? (or intend to use if finish coat is not yet applied at time of entry) 
  5. Did you use of any special equipment, design software, jigs, or hardware? Were any of these new to you? 
  6. List any manufactured parts that were used, if any, or if and how any other persons or companies were involved in the process. This must be disclosed.

Upload Photos

  1. Upload up to four (4) photos, up to 1MB each, of the completed project. Two are required. Upload these photos as JPEG files. Note: Preliminary review by judges is heavily reliant on the photos. It is to your advantage to submit the best quality possible: they should be in focus and show your project clearly. We recommend at least two different views.  (Some students hire a professional photographer or employ the services of their advisor or the photography department at their school for this task.)  
  2. Construction Photos/Documentation: Upload at least one (1) additional image showing the project during turning, or project plans, drawings, or working sketches. (Judges will not score based on the quality of construction documentation, but will use them as reference). If submitting photos, crop or remove people from the images to the best of your ability.



AWFS® will pre-register all participating finalists and instructors who are able to attend the AWFS®Fair, at no charge. Guests of students that would like to see the competition display area will need to pay for show registration ($25 in advance, $50 on site.)

Finalists will be required to prepare information sheets to accompany their project to the show. The completion of the information sheets, which will be on view at the show, will be part of the final judging and one point will be assigned to your final score if they are completed correctly. All finalists will receive a certificate of merit and are eligible to participate in the purchase guide and resume book for review by industry on-site.

The information sheets should include:

  1. Entry number, category and school level in the upper left-hand corner. 
  2. Project name in bold type at the top, and your name, school and city and state typed below. Your project description from the entry application or a variation of it, highlighting any special or unseen features. 
  3. Working drawings, plans, details, sketches and/ or photos showing work in process. At minimum 3” x 5” image of your finished piece in the upper right-hand corner of the board (other images may be included).


Tib Shaw, tib@woodturner.org, 651-484-9094 or Linda Ferber, linda@woodturner.org, 651-444-1201

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal