Although I spent most of my working life building bridges, I am a third generation house carpenter and cabinetmaker. After retiring, I set up a woodworking shop and began making furniture pieces that were
popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, eventually specializing in hanging cabinets. Although I am inspired by photographs and drawings of antiques (like those found in Russell Kettle’s The Pine Furniture of Early New England ) or by the “real thing” at an antiques shop, I rarely copy a piece exactly. Instead, I may change the proportions, use a different wood, and add or subtract decorative details. The backs, undersides, and drawers (except for the drawer fronts) are left unfinished so there is no attempt to present my work as a genuine antique.
Formal pieces of walnut and cherry are made from trees that I helped to fell on my neighbor’s property, had milled at a sawmill, and then dried in a shed on my property. Reclaimed wood (mostly hard pine),
used for primitive pieces, typically comes from the floors of local historic houses that are (sadly) being torn down.
I use many electric tools to make my furniture, including a table saw, planer, lathe, router for moldings, and a radial arm saw. However, my drawers are hand-dovetailed together using a dovetail saw, and I often
use hand-made square-pegged construction on the cabinet doors, cabinet frames, and bread-boarded table ends. Many of my pieces have antique hand-wrought or machine cut finish nails holding molding or trim. I also use hand tools that include a smoothing plane, wooden clamps, and a variety of chisels and files.
For the finish on primitive pieces, I use milk paint (from the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company that I mix with water) often adding a fine crackle between coats. On top of this I add a hand-rubbed raw
umber glaze over which I place two coats of a hand-rubbed final finish that combines linseed oil, varnish, and tung oil. Fine woods like cherry and tiger maple get a hand-rubbed, low-gloss varnish or tung
I am a self-taught blacksmith and my cabinets feature hand-wrought hinges in rat-tail and butterfly styles based on historic precedents like those found in Albert Sonn’s Early American Wrought Iron
(1928). Some are exact copies of early hinges, others are original to me but build on the originality often seen in antique hinges. Cabinets with glass doors have wavy, antique glass with bubbles and swirls
(from antique sash being thrown away), along with hand-carved turn buttons that hold the door closed.
About Your Business
My woodworking shop is located in a ca. 1850 storage building on the grounds of our ca. 1790 South Jersey farmhouse. I also do custom pieces and will ship anywhere in the United States.