Do you count yourself among the multitudes of people whose love for Martha’s Vineyard continues to grow as time passes? Does the island hold a special place in your heart? If not, maybe you know someone for whom this is an apt description. With this year’s upcoming holiday gift giving season fast approaching, I have a great suggestion for you — the Chappaquiddick Wood Company (CWCo).
For the last five years or so, Zach Pinerio, owner and creator of CWCo, has been turning out exquisite handcrafted pieces from local trees that have fallen here on the Island. He finds great enjoyment and satisfaction knowing exactly from which part of the Island any particular tree he is working on is from. Known for creating beautiful and functional wood bowls, Pinerio has started to branch out with other hardwood products such as salad servers and cutting boards in the shape of whales and pendant lamp shades. I have no doubt that his love of the process will only lead to more variations on the same handmade theme. And what better way to bring home a piece of this treasured Island as you rest assured all of his products are produced in a sustainable way. Most of his raw material would have ended up as firewood or in the chipper had he not gotten a hold of it.
Pinerio grew up summering on the Island from Westchester, New York, with his family — specifically on Chappy. He worked at the Chappaquiddick Beach Club year after year and fell in love with the rhythm and pace of this special little island within an Island. It was only natural that he would decide to base his operation there.
When it was time to go to college he decided on the University of Vermont to study environmental science. This was a fortuitous decision since it led to him finding and pursuing his dream — working with wood.
After graduating college, he spent about eight years in Vermont working as an apprentice to a cabinet maker. Then, he moved on to homebuilding, picking up many useful skills and becoming comfortable working with his hands. But it was his decision to work for Andrew Pearce, the well known handcrafted wooden bowl maker in Vermont (and son of Simon Pearce, the renowned glass blowing artist also based in Vermont) that led him to where he is today. Pinerio credits Andrew with teaching him the trade of turning wood on a lathe and creating one-of-a-kind functional bowls out of sustainably sourced wood. Andrew also taught Pinerio the importance of relying on customized tools as well as business management.
Armed with this experience, he relocated to his beloved Chappy to try and make a go of his own woodworking business. Using the skills he gained in home building and cabinetry, he outfitted an old shipping container into a workshop complete with two large handmade wood drying kilns. Pinerio was lucky to have a landlord there who was willing to go along with the pursuit of his dream.
In summer 2019, a confluence of lucky circumstances led Pinerio to purchasing a fabulous old farmhouse just a short distance from his shop. Known historically as “Whale Jaw Farm,” the property is a rustic collection of antique buildings that include a large barn structure which Pineiro hopes to move his workshop into someday. He’s already acquired the requisite gaggle of chickens and is looking to add more — as well as other various and sundry farm animals.
Following in both Simon and Andrew Pearce’s tradition, Pinerio is visioning the farm as not only a destination location for those interested in his handcrafted offerings, but also as a place for visitors who are looking for a fun way to spend some time. Both Pearces’ operations have grown organically into compounds complete with restaurants, shops and viewing areas where people can watch product production before their eyes. Pinerio said it will be a few years until the dream will be realized, but one well worth putting in all the effort to achieve.
For more information on Chappaquiddick Wood Company, visit chappaquiddickwoodcompany.com or check out Pinerio’s Instagram page at @chappaquiddickwoodcompany. Pinerio’s work will be for sale at the 23rd Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Artisans Festival on Nov. 29-30, indoors at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury from 10 am to 4 pm, and at the 11th Annual Holiday Fair, Dec. 21, Grange Hall, West Tisbury, 10 am to 4 pm.