by William Sampson
School focuses on woodworking careers
New England School of Architectural Woodworking
trains future professional woodworkers.
Avisit to the New England School of Architectural Woodworking is more like a visit to a professional cabinet
shop than it is to a school woodshop. For
one thing, the students are a lot older.
“The average age is 32,” said Greg
Larson, who with his wife bought the
school in 2007 and turned it into a
nationally recognized program. He
explains that many of his students are
career changers as well as a few younger
students just starting out, but the emphasis is on professionalism.
That covers not just production skills
taught and quality of work expected,
but it also applies to dealing with paying
customers. Each term culminates with
a group project, typically a full kitchen,
“We’re unique among woodworking
schools in that, after learning cabinet-
making fundamentals, our students
work directly with members of the local
community to design, draw, plan, build,
finish and install projects, which these
days are usually kitchens,” said Larson.
“This exposes students to the entire
project life-cycle and prepares them for
a range of jobs within the industry or for
self-employment. We also take several
field trips to introduce students to a
variety of cabinetmaking and specialty
NESAW was born as the One Cottage
Street School of Fine Woodworking in
1992, taking its name from its address in
a historic red brick mill building in East-
hampton, Massachusetts. Run by Michael
Coffey, the school offered beginning and
intermediate adult woodworking classes,
and eventually architectural woodwork.
Steve Squire and Faith Harrison bought
the school in 1995, changing the name
to New England School of Architectural
Woodworking. They expanded the pro-
gram, achieving national recognition.
In 2007, Greg and Margaret Larson
bought the school, and Greg became
full-time instructor, sharing his profes-
sional experience as an architectural
woodworker. As a board member on the
AWI National Skills Standard Initiative
and part of the Woodworking Career
Alliance, Greg said he and his wife’s pri-
mary goals are to develop more industry
partnerships and to expand the use of
The five-month term culminates with the students collaborating on a kitchen project for a home in the local area, learning to do true professional
custom work for real clients.