Clients as Friends, Friends as Clients

People / Products / July 16, 2010

When the owners of a vintage Charles Moore residence in New Hampshire needed a dining room table, they turned to veteran woodworker Dan Mosham and Dorset Custom Furniture in Dorset, Vermont.

Then they came back for the chairs.

He’s been making furniture for more than thirty years now. He got started in 1974, after he’d built a house for himself, and ran out of money. “We didn’t have any furniture, so I worked as a carpenter for five years,” he said. “I didn’t have any formal training.”

Many of his pieces, like the table, are crafted from recycled woods. That particular piece is made of chestnut salvaged from nearby demolished buildings. Chestnut is almost nonexistent today, because of a blight that killed the trees at the turn of the 20th century.

About ninety percent of his other lumber – oak, cherry, curly maple and walnut – comes from Pennsylvania and the Allegheny National Forest. “Two of my suppliers are buying wood harvested there, and I know they’re being managed sustainably through the Forestry Stewardship Council.

For his exotic woods, he depends on a third supplier who imports slabs of African rosewood fifty inches wide and twenty feet long. He said he’s certain that the wood is imported responsibly because that particular supplier has been in business for 25 years.

His largest project was a 26-foot by nine-foot conference table, and the smallest, a cremation urn twelve inches high. The most unusual though, was a king-size bed with a series of three-dimensional metal ducks inlaid into its headboard.

That one was a family affair. “My oldest son did all the sanding and shaping of the brass and copper and steel of the mallards, and gave them their patina,” he said. “My youngest son did all the turning and carving.”

Talk to Dan for a while, and you’ll get the sense that he’s never met a stranger.

“I’m extremely lucky,” he said. “I’ve had an amazing run with my customers – some of them for 25 years. My clients become my friends, and my friends become my clients.”

For more on Dorset Custom Furniture, go to

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

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