Island cabinetmakers, a skilled group

Island cabinetmakers, a skilled group

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An example of Lineaweaver's custom cabinetry, in the form of a kitchen island. — Photo courtesy of Lineaweaver Cabinetry

Cabinets, like other custom home furnishings, can turn a plain room into a place of interest. And if they are well designed, they can add to the ambience not only in the kitchen but throughout the house.

Martha’s Vineyard has its share of fine cabinetmakers, fine woodworkers whose work is highly prized by homeowners and the building community. So much so that while some have slowed down a bit as a result of the stagnant economy, all are relatively busy.

Our community seems to retain some of its Puritan heritage by not placing a high value on public ostentation. Houses on the Vineyard for the most part are not particularly elaborate on the outside. Move inside however, and it becomes apparent that many architects, designers, and builders have not felt that constraint. Many houses today sport an amazing array of custom woodwork in the form of paneling, staircases, furniture, bookcases, and cabinetry.

Cabinets, and shelving, can be used to create a level of sophistication for an otherwise spartan area or to emphasize the laidback atmosphere of a family room. Cabinets are spaces to help us keep organized and to keep things out of sight. Cabinets can also be used to display things we value.

The woodworkers and cabinetmakers presented here have varied backgrounds. A couple migrated from the world of boat building, one works as a designer, and several from building homes. Some also build furniture and an occasional musical instrument. Most will sometimes spend a year or more on whole house projects. They are a talented crew. Here are brief descriptions of some of the Island’s best.

Lineaweaver Cabinetry

James Young of Lineaweaver Cabinetry, Inc. specializes in the design, fabrication, and installation of custom cabinetry for both new and older homes on the Vineyard. The company also does kitchen cabinet remodeling. Mr. Young started out in the business in the 1980s working for Alexander and Wright, a prominent wood shop at the time. He bought out his former boss and established his own business in 1996.

His company has one full-time and one part-time employee, which increase to as many as five full-timers during the busy spring. Mr. Young said that things have slowed down some the last couple of years, particularly in the summer. His company has worked for many Island contractors and occasionally for other cabinetmakers. They do not handle the final finishing of their work. Lineaweaver Cabinetry may be reached at 508-693-9748.

John Thayer Cabinetmakers

John Thayer has been working with wood on the Island since 1974. He said that he is self-taught, “having learned the basics from a series of grumpy, older men when I was 19 or 20.” He moved to the Island at 24, worked at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard for a couple of years, and then went into business for himself.

He designs and builds custom furniture and interiors with a five-person staff. His work is prized for its museum quality craftsmanship. He works primarily in hard woods, a lot of cherry and mahogany.

Mr. Thayer said the last three years have been the best years of his business. About half of his business has been off-Island. He had a two-year project in the Hudson Valley in New York, then a one-year project on the Island, all interior work: dining room furniture, sideboards, beds, libraries.

From 2009 to 2011, he worked in Toronto on an interior, and this year he has a project in Menemsha. All of his production work is done here in his shop in Vineyard Haven next to Maciel Marine. He attributes his success to “listening and eliminating the miscommunications then going with it.” See his work at johnthayer.com.

Harcourt Woodworking

Gregg Harcourt got his start in the building trades as a teenager working as a carpenter on houses in Utica, New York, in the late 1970s. He worked on a couple of old houses here on the Vineyard, then ran the wood shop at DECA in Vineyard Haven in the early 80s, making doors and windows. He worked as a general contractor with his brother for a while before setting up his own wood working shop.

His skill working with wood is such that he has also built a number of stringed instruments, prized by musicians who are lucky enough to have one. On the side he and his wife, Mary Wolverton, organize the KCT Concerts.

Today Mr. Harcourt mostly makes kitchen cabinets, built-ins, and doors in his shop off the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road. About 30 to 40 percent of work is from people calling in. The rest comes from builder Mark Hurwitz and other contractors.

“Things have slowed a bit but I have continued to work pretty steadily, people have gotten a little tighter, a little more concerned with cost,” Mr. Harcourt elaborated. “I do a lot of work for regular people who appreciate fine work, not just the wealthy.”

He usually works with one other person but subcontracts as needed. He uses a lot of hardwoods and recycled wood, and has used recycled old growth cypress from old pickle vats for some of his recent work.

“The things I make from the cypress should last forever,” he said. For more information, email him at gregharc@comcast.net.

Hart Woodworking

Stephen Hart fashions wood into cabinets, furniture, and custom doors in his shop next to his house in West Tisbury.

Born into the Stanley Tool family, he considers himself a seventh generation woodworker. He learned wood working basics in high school in the foothills of the Berkshires. After a childhood of summers in Chilmark and Harthaven, Stephen moved to the Vineyard in 1982. He spent two years with Gannon and Benjamin and then two years with John Thayer. The next seven years Mr. Hart worked under the direction of Edward Galla learning architectural millwork. They did restoration work on many of the historical buildings owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, as well as producing high-end cabinets and interiors.

Following his real passion, Mr. Hart decided to go back to making furniture and landed a two-year position working with Larry Hepler. His skills have kept him busy both here and occasionally off-Island.

His website is hartwoodworking.com.

Keyland Kitchens

John Kheary, owner of Keyland Kitchens, has been in business on the Vineyard since 1974, “When I was about the only cabinet shop around,” he said.

He does custom cabinetry and architectural millwork, custom moldings, and interior doors. Mr. Kheary started out working with his father in West Bridgewater building houses, and went to vocational school to learn the trade.

He employs three people. Much of his work has been in the “mega mansions” as he calls them, but he has more remodeling work since the slow down.

“Some of those projects take two to three years because we are not just doing the kitchen cabinets,” he said. “We are making the interior doors, the trim and molding, stereo cabinets, window seats, and anything else that you can think of made out of wood, the complete interior.”

They do much of the M.V. Preservation Trust restoration work and make their own cutting knives to reproduce the 18th and 19th century moldings and trim. “If it’s made out of wood we have probably done or can do it.”

Keyland Kitchens is located on the Airport Road next to Vineyard Decorators. Call them at 508-693-3577.

Rock Pond Studio

Paul Lazes, the owner of Rock Pond Studio, has been designing kitchens for more than 20 years.

While he does not fabricate his designs himself, he has a long history in the building business. He did design and renovation work in New York City for 17 years during which he began designing kitchens as a part of his projects.

He relocated to the Vineyard 11 years ago and since has focused almost exclusively upon kitchen design. Mr. Lazes also designs cabinets for use throughout the home. He uses more than a dozen species of wood as well as a wide variety of standard and custom finishes, and will work in practically any material including stone for countertops. He has used as many as four different companies to manufacture his designs but has settled on a Pennsylvania company that he says is the best.

According to him, his business “Really fell off four or five years ago but has recovered in the last two years.” He said he is now up to about 85 to 90 percent of where he was before the drop.

For more information, visit Rock Pond Studio at 190 Upper Main Street in Edgartown, or visit his website at rockpondkitchens.net.