Thomas Dorsey

<previous artist next artist>




I am a self-taught furniture designer and craftsman operating a one-man shop. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and mind in concert and the combination of the technical and creative aspects of furnituremaking is a perfect mode of expression for me.

Born and raised in Belmont, I was exposed to a do-it-yourself ethos from an early age while growing up in a fixer-upper that my parents thoroughly renovated. After graduating from college, I returned to my roots and found work in a couple of different custom woodworking shops. That initial experience was rewarding but I was frustrated by my position on the bottom rung in those shops. Believing that I could rapidly expand my skills if I had more opportunity I decided to set up my own shop. With the encouragement of friends and family offering me a steady stream of commissions at the start, I was able to advance my abilities as a maker while developing a unique design vocabulary.

I pursue and execute nuanced compositions, animated by hand-cut joinery and hand-shaped contours, which continue to reveal themselves even as the user becomes more and more familiar with the furniture. Continued word-of-mouth support has allowed me to expand my client base while affording me the opportunity to spend more time on speculative projects. After more than 15 years working on my own, honing my skills and refining my vision, I continue to challenge myself with each new project to find the harmonious balance of an engaging form serving a congruous function.



I design and build hand made solid wood furniture. I am inspired by the complexity of traditional Japanese joinery, the simplicity of Shaker ideals, the spirit of Arts & Crafts workmanship, the flowering of Art Nouveau expression, the surge of American Studio craft, and more and more by the sublimity of Mother Nature.

Each cut of wood, each joint, each contour is selected and shaped to produce the most engaging results; everything I make is singular and unique. From rough sketches through three dimensional mock-ups to a hand-drawn full scale plan, I explore design options, analyze proportional variations and determine construction details while establishing the proper sequence of assembly. I use native grown North American hardwoods and softwoods, choosing lumber very carefully based on species, grain, color and texture characteristics. Specific boards with particular qualities are selected for exact placement within the piece of furniture. Multiple coats of an oil and varnish finish hand-rubbed into the wood enhances its inherent character while establishing generous surface protection that is easily repairable. As the piece ages and sunlight and atmosphere exert their irrepressible influences on the wood, a rich patina develops which no stain, dye or artificial process can duplicate.

Living and working in New England provides a fertile environment in which to thrive as a furniture artisan. The long tradition of independent cabinetmakers in the region promotes an understanding of and appreciation for the workmanship found in a small shop. Sources of historical inspiration are innumerable and exposure to the best current makers is constant. It is an honor to occupy one small corner of this landscape.