Experience first hand the fine-furniture making of Thos. Moser

Discover how cabinetmaker Mike Beaumont helped C&G Editorial Director D. J. Carey build a one-of-a-kind square-end table at the Auburn, Maine shop of Thos. Moser during her week-long Customer Residence program.

Photographs by Neil Landino Jr. (drawer detail and cabinet); Eric Roth (Beaumont)

A well-designed room is the result of many elements coming together. Anchoring any good room is the furniture. While many of us might want to change fabrics or wall coverings or paint, classic, clean-lined furniture can withstand the vagaries of fashion’s whim or a capricious homeowner. Some of the most versatile and enduring designs come from the master craftsmen at the Auburn, Maine, shop of Thos. Moser. And from me. Yes, that’s right, I built a piece of furniture.

This past May, I enrolled in the Customer in Residence program, working alongside a cabinetmaker for a week to craft a piece of furniture. Considering my novice skills, I chose a simple square-end table with a shelf and drawer. Mike Beaumont was assigned to help me (poor Mike!). After a tour of the workshop, I was amazed at the number of machines and tools I would be using. My first job was to select the wood. This sounds simple, but as I stared at a pile of cherry wood, the planks all looked the same. My blank expression prompted Mike to walk me through the basics of choosing wood for furniture and checking for imperfections. Honestly, I had never really taken the time to examine any piece of wood that closely!

Fear of power tools instantly surfaced as I was instructed to cut the pieces for my tabletop and shelf. For me, a table saw was the main character of any horror movie. Sensing my fear, Mike showed me how to feed the wood toward the blade and, most importantly, how to keep my hands safe. After the first tentative saw, I was off and cutting. At the end of the first day, all of the parts were ready for assembly. I was surprised by my exhaustion—physical and mental—and was happy to retreat to the comforts of my suite at the Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, ME, harraseeketinn.com. (Naturally, I was in the Thos. Moser suite, surrounded by gorgeous pieces that I could only dream of creating.) As I drifted off to sleep, my mind kept replaying Mike’s words: Measure twice, cut once; square things up; look for the fence.

My confidence grew each day as my table took shape. I was fascinated with the machine that creates mortise and tenon joints. Now I understand why my father spent long hours in our basement making furniture. But unlike my dad who worked alone, I worked alongside cabinetmakers who not only took pride in their work, but in mine too.

By Thursday, my table was built, and we celebrated at the Harraseeket with a fantastic meal featuring local bounty from land and sea. On our final day, the entire workshop gathered for the signing ceremony, a favorite Moser tradition. First, Thomas Moser (yes, he exists!) signed my table, then Mike and I did. It is a wonderfully satisfying feeling to be congratulated by these masters. While I stood there, I reflected on the American tradition of fine furniture-making: works of art that connect the hand and the heart.