CHETT WALSH, WOOD ARTISAN
Chett Walsh is a veteran carpenter and woodworker. From humble beginnings in his parents’ Arlington, MA basement—in which he built footstools and repaired furniture—to 38 years of experience as a construction operations manager, Chett still makes time to pursue his true passion: experimenting with woodworking projects in his makeshift garage shop.
Starting at an early age, Chett channeled his energy into working with with many other Boston area woodworkers, whereupon he eventually established a reputation as a respectably skilled craftsman.
As an original staff member for Shawmut Design and Constructions, he’s provided oversight for 3+ decades of construction management for major restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and stadiums nationwide.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DESIGNS
Often simple shapes or forms start out as a vague design image as we toy with sketching different variations until they develop along enough to be fully visualized and roughly structured. Then the technical analysis takes hold to bring the design vision to a reality sketch that is bench ready enough to be made in the shop. Not all pieces get drawn up, many are just whatever comes to us when we’re in the shop with a few pieces of wood listening to music.
Most pieces here are a blend of different styles and techniques either learned or self-developed through experimentation. While a few others are mimicked from well established recognizable design styles and or similar pieces we’ve seen somewhere.
Craftsman and Rustic Americana are the most prevalent tags we’ve heard. Though in the end, it’s the viewers’ opinions that often label things as they perceive our designs and work pieces to be.
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As you will see, we lean towards natural hued finishes and using varying wood species for many of the visual contrast elements in our designs. After perusing our pieces, some people will figure out our 3 favorite woods: ash, walnut, and cherry, but curly maple and birds-eye maple are also becoming a more prevalent frequent-flyer in our shop, tricky as they may be for effectively presenting the figured grain when dyed or stained.
We are often stuck on a cloudy image of the next project buried deep in our heads in the fog of a busy day, then out of nowhere, a sudden break-through often evokes grabbing whatever sketch pad is closest to rough out that piece for clarity as it often disappears like the Myth of Sisyphus. 😊
We enjoy great satisfaction when people say they haven’t seen anything similar to some of our different projects, but we’re sure there are similarities out there somewhere by other creative woodworkers and artists. We have zero issue with people mimicking anything we do and we often share our non-traditional, typical design sketches with interested colleagues.
FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS
Chett has drawn his inspiration for his woodwork from his rich and eclectic interests, some of which include his past experiences as a private pilot, scuba instructor, and novice ice climber.
Over the last decade, he’s been exploring the boundaries of his own style, with new projects reflecting the unique aspects of his materials and designs.
Today, Chett resides on Massachusetts’ North Shore with his wife and dog. In his spare time, he maintains several hobbies including environmental protection projects with a local chapter of Trout Unlimited; experimenting with smoking meat, teaching an old dog new tricks, and keeping tabs on his three adult children.
Presently, his work is sent away as gifts to family and friends or donated to auctions for various charities or non-profit organizations.
Most professional photos were produced by Jim Badershall, its easy to see the amateur ones compared to his work.
Great sources for very high quality woods are Kevin Koski in PA at curlymaplewood.com, and also Highland Hardwoods in Brentwood NH.
Also, a go-to spot for guidance is the entire staff at WOODCRAFT Supply, in Woburn MA, very knowledgeable and giving of friendly, sage advice.
Many thanks for the help with some of my larger table tops go to the friends at Mark Richey Woodworking in Newburyport MA as well as Anthony Fabrizio at Fabrizio Corp in Medford, MA. Use of their industrial sanding equip saved many hours for us.