R. Cantwell Woodworking, Inc. is a full-service custom woodworking studio located in historic New Bedford, MA. We began as a one person shop dedicated to the concept of producing quality custom cabinetry and fine furniture in Fairhaven, MA. Since then, we have grown, moved to a larger facility and hired a great crew.
In 1986, fresh out of high school and searching for a direction in life, I was hired as a shop helper by a custom wood shop servicing the high-end sector of Long Island’s Hamptons. Playing part in the interesting jobs being commissioned and fueled by my interest from high school wood shop — I developed a penchant for handworks. Realizing that, the hook was set.
Hungry to learn more and eager to go away to college, I enrolled in a Wood Technology Program studying the characteristics of wood as material; structural properties, rough mill sawing, kiln drying, wood identification, lumber grading. I toured several sawmills and mid-size furniture factories. While it provided me a solid basis of understanding, it also helped narrow my search to the creative woodworking field of furniture making.
I dug into all things furniture and became absorbed in the field of studio furniture. I spent 2 years in a Fine and Creative Woodworking program in North Carolina building on a newly developing interest and skill set. We covered period furniture making, steam bending and even instrument making.
My time in the south and subsequent portfolio of work landed me in the Furniture Design Program (BFA) at the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology. I thrived there — my work finding its way into Student Honors shows.
After graduating from RIT, I headed West to Seattle and worked for a studio furniture maker who was a graduate of Boston Universities’ (now defunct but overwhelmingly influential Program in Artisanry). It was there, working in the field, perfecting techniques and procedures (that are still with me today) I felt I was ready to take a shot at it myself. In 2001, I headed back East and set up shop in the south coast of Massachusetts. I have taken on an interesting mix of projects over the past 17 years from high-end cabinetry to custom furniture and some pieces that would fall between the two — striving for excellence in all I do.