Liberon puts students’ skills to the test

Walsall College students, from left to right: Dayzanaia John, Anthony Walker (winner) and Nico Jones

In a bid to bring its woodcare products to the woodworking masses, Liberon challenges three sets of college students to create different projects, each using various wood dyes, finishing oils and polishes from its extensive range


Students at Walsall College were recently put through their paces by Liberon as part of a carpentry and joinery competition. The woodcare experts called on the college’s Level 2 Bench Joinery course learners to build and finish a child’s Christmas toy train with one engine and one carriage, plus a small decoration in the form of a Christmas tree, using Liberon’s Palette Wood Dyes, Finishing Oils and Wax Polish Black Bison Paste.

CNC router technology

Students were handed guideline images by their lecturer and asked to complete the project over a total of 20 teaching hours. A winning student – Anthony Walker – plus two runners-up – Dayzanaia John and Nico Jones – were selected from the class by Director of Faculty, Neil Sambrook and Curriculum Delivery Manager, Nathan Hartshorne.

The project incorporated a variety of hardwoods for the trains and various wood offcuts from previous projects for the trees. A CNC router was programmed by the Joinery Technician, Colin Wright, using the department’s latest advanced technology additions to create wheels for the trains. The winner and runners-up were each awarded a £25 Amazon voucher, provided by Liberon.


Walsall College Students in the workshop creating children’s Christmas toys and trees

Problem solving & design ideas

Course leader, Paul Underwood, Lecturer in Carpentry and Joinery, said: “All the students should be very proud of what they achieved in this competition. The challenge showcased and helped to develop their problem-solving abilities, design ideas, and saw them utilising a wide range of timber and tools as well as learning how to sand products down through the abrasive grades in order to achieve the best finish from the Liberon products. It’s been great to see how this challenge has highlighted the students’ personalities and individuality.”

Note: It’s always advisable to check the suitability of surface finishing products for use on real-world children’s wooden toys. Those featured in this competition are for display purposes only.


Similarly, Bench Joinery students at Burton and South Derbyshire College also took part in another woodworking competition set by Liberon, which tested their carpentry and joinery skills. This time, the brief involved building and finishing a children’s toy, using the same products as before: Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye, Finishing Oil and Black Bison Paste.


Burton and South Derbyshire College winners, from left to right: Billy Mills, Elliot Fowkes and Ben Dungavel

Toddler’s stroller

To ensure fairness, the teams of students were again allocated a total of 20 teaching hours in which to complete the project. The winning team came up with the idea of producing a toddler’s stroller, which incorporated built-in games on its front, shaped holes on its side for posting corresponding-shaped blocks through, and a storage section at its rear for the blocks. The project saw the team using oak along with a variety of softwoods.

Richard Bradley, Liberon Marketing Manager, said: “The Burton and South Derbyshire College students came up with some brilliant designs; they’re clearly very talented.”


The completed toddler’s stroller incorporated built-in games on its front...


... shaped holes on its side for posting corresponding-shaped blocks through...


... and a storage section at its rear for the blocks

Course leader, Ian Vanes-Jones, added: “All the students produced some extremely impressive results of which they can be very proud. The investment made by the college in a new CNC router has seen a good return in this task. We asked the students to design, build and finish a project within a tight time-frame, and they’ve risen to the challenge superbly, handling their introduction to new skills really well. I’ve always been a strong advocate of Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye, which imparts great tonal highlights, but this competition has underlined its attributes even further. Having tested the range of colours first, it’s been great to see the rich shades that can be achieved using this range.”

The entries were judged by volunteers from a local children’s nursery who agreed that the standard of work was high and as such, making a choice hadn’t been easy. The winning team’s three members each received a £25 Amazon voucher, which was provided by Liberon.


Last but by no means least, Furniture Making course students at Newark College were also challenged by Liberon to produce competition-worthy pieces that’d put their carpentry and joinery skills to the test. This time round, the students were tasked with designing, building and finishing a jewellery box in tulipwood using one or more of Liberon’s Palette Wood Dyes, Finishing Oils, Superior Danish Oils or Wax Polish Black Bison Paste.


Newark College students, from left to right: Callum McCann (winner); Julian Davis (runner-up with his design that features multiple jewellery item chambers); Cameron Owen-Jones (runner-up)

Due to this task’s higher complexity, students were allocated a total of 30 teaching hours in which to complete the project. The competition resulted in one winning student, plus two runners-up.


Newark College Furniture Making course students working on their jewellery box projects

Course leader, Richard Preece, commented: “The students produced some impressive jewellery box designs. Each were given tulipwood in a particular section size so that they could cut it according to their needs. The project has been a good means of testing the students’ jointing skills in particular, and we saw several joint formats produced including comb joints, traditional dovetail, modern domino and mitres with feathers. In addition, the competition looked at the students’ wood finishing techniques, and using Liberon’s range of products, gave them insights into what effects could be achieved.”

The entries were judged by two of the college’s managers, including the head of Newark College, and the winner and runners-up each received a £25 Amazon voucher, provided by Liberon.


A selection of completed jewellery boxes, all of which utilised tulipwood


Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye

For those woodworkers looking to achieve a specific finished shade, this can be done by mixing any of the 13 colours in which Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye is available. Palette Wood Dye is a quick-drying, top quality, water-based option, which is suitable for either soft- or hardwoods. The dye’s formulation includes light stability for excellent colour retention. Easily absorbed, its specialist acrylic formula minimises the raising of wood grain.


Each of the student competitions made use of Liberon’s Palette Wood Dyes, Finishing Oils, Superior Danish Oils or Wax Polish Black Bison Paste

Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye is available in Antique Pine, Dark Oak, Ebony, Georgian Mahogany, Golden Pine, Light Oak, Medium Oak, Teak, Tudor Oak, Victorian Mahogany, Walnut, White and Yew.

If varnishing is also required, it’s possible to save time by mixing Liberon’s Palette Wood Dye with the company’s Natural Finish Varnishes to create a single-application product. This achieves a beautiful result more quickly than having to apply the two products, one after the other.

When asked his opinions on the three winning groups of students, Richard Bradley, Liberon Marketing Manager, said: “In my opinion, all of these students obviously have some great skills andit’s wonderful to see what they’ve been able to achieve within the set parameters. We’d like to congratulate all of the winning students and runners-up, and wish them all the best of luck in their future carpentry and joinery careers.”

For further information on Liberon and the company’s extensive range of woodcare products, visit