When it comes to professional woodworking, there are endless tools and tricks of the trade that can help in cutting corners. But what really makes a woodworker successful is the quality of his experience and the drive to continuously implement and improve on those skills.
Matthew Clark does this and can safely rest on his laurels. The owner of Kent Cabinetry & Millwork in Chestertown, Md., has been involved in all aspects of the building trades from a young age and has always kept his mind open to learning new techniques.
"We've got a saying around here that we can do anything. If somebody walks in the door and wants something built, we can build it," says Clark.
Clark has had up to 18 employees in the past, but currently employs one full-time cabinetmaker, Don Bigger, whose wealth of knowledge is similar to his. The shop started as a large construction company, but Clark realized he needed to downsize. Now the shop produces custom cabinetry and millwork for the residential market.
An early start
Clark grew up in Wilmington, Del., and began woodworking at age 13 when his father bought a summer home in Sassafras, Md., that needed a lot of structural and cosmetic work. Like any student eager to learn, Clark strapped on a tool belt and began framing, hanging doors and adding trim with his father as his mentor. After his junior year in high school, Clark got a job as a carpenter.
"I was a carpenter, not a helper. I made good money and the next summer I was hired back and did it again. Then I joined the U.S. Navy and went to college."