James Vander Schaaf

I am a local Maine wood artisan and furniture builder, who loves creating unique pieces in wood.  My work is intended to add beauty while harmonizing with your environment.  I use the finest wood, mostly black cherry, but also figured maple (tiger, birdseye and spalted), walnut, and ash.

I am a graduate of the University of Michigan (BS and MS degrees in Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering and Aerospace Engineering), Johns Hopkins (MS Computer Science) and studied Law.  My career was with government and industry, lastly as a manager of Advanced Shipbuilding Technology and Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) at Bath Iron Works. I subsequently formed two consulting companies which focused on improving organizational effectiveness.

I love woodworking because it is a craft and a profession, that requires ever increasing skills to produce objects that draw the eye, appeal to the senses, are functional, and give the pleasure of being self-created.  In a world which values immediate satisfaction (which seldom is lasting), woodworking provides a longer term satisfaction that comes from relishing the furniture you have created.  To see the expressions of delight and pleasure that a piece you’ve created gives others is deeply satisfying.While it doesn’t demand perfection, the craft of woodworking encourages it.  Learning is continuous to the open mind.  Alternative methods abound and there are many ways to achieve a similar result.  Each day in my shop, I learn something new, even building furniture I’ve built before.

The subject of woodworking is broad and deep and includes:  understanding wood in its many forms, safety with tools, power and hand tools, joinery, jigs and fixtures, methods and techniques, design and styles, and finishing.  Each of these is a study in itself – requiring study, practice and refinement. 

Finally woodworking craftsmanship fulfills a spiritual need within me to connect attitude with skills; creation with satisfaction; tool usage with purpose; and learning with practiced growth.