Graduate Profiles

NESAW students come from all sorts of backgrounds with all levels of experience. We’re very proud of our graduates – not only for the quality of work they produced during the program, but also for the ease with which they have transitioned to professional cabinetmaking.

Jeff Ragle

Class of 2016

As a small child, Jeff would sit in his grandfather’s shop in the Black Forest of Germany and watch him work. Although inspired by that craftsmanship, life led him on a detour in the security/dispatch field until he found NESAW. Now, Jeff works for WallGoldfinger in Randolph, Vermont, and truly enjoys going to work each day.

“The five months I spent at NESAW were some of the most rewarding of my life. Under the direction of Greg Larson, I learned the finer points of cabinetry and millwork. I now work for one of the premiere custom corporate furniture makers on the United States, thanks to the solid foundation laid by NESAW. I found my training more than adequate for finding employment and once I started work, I had no problem jumping right in. My journey in cabinetry is far from over and I look forward to a lifetime of learning and improving my skills, but I owe Greg, NESAW and my classmates for helping me get started and keeping me inspired. For those looking for an intense, fast-paced and quality-oriented school to learn cabinetry, this is the place!”

Caitlin Dugre

Class of 2014

After earning a B.S. and M.S. in physical education/sports studies and working as a PE teacher and track coach, Caitlin decided to make a dramatic career change. She received several job offers in the last few weeks of the NESAW program and chose to work for Littleton Millwork in Littleton, NH.

Jason Camp

Class of 2014

Jason came to us after 23 years working in the heavy construction industry. After suffering an injury, he decided he wanted a career that would offer him more creativity and satisfaction. His lifelong interest in woodworking led him to enroll at NESAW, which he first learned about through a newspaper article six years prior. Jason decided to start his own business after graduation and has been very busy ever since with a variety of commissions, some of which are shown in the gallery above.

“NESAW opened so many doors for me.  The training I got gave me much more confidence in everything that I build.”

William Lane

Class of 2013

After working as an archivist for a number of years, Willie followed his passion and become a woodworker.

“First, I was with Dirk Auferoth and Associates in Holyoke, MA, which specializes in modern custom cabinetry and millwork for the New York City region. I now work for Michael Humphries Woodworking in Northfield, MA, which builds cabinetry and millwork, with an emphasis on veneer work, for clients in the Boston and Cape Cod areas. I’ve enjoyed working for both companies and believe I’m still on the same learning path that was begun at NESAW. Having come from a professional background in library and archival work, I’m amazed at how easy it was to change careers. But I couldn’t have done it without the training and professional connections I gained at NESAW.”

Jesse Geary

Class of 2013

Jesse worked in food service before joining the NESAW class of 2013. He accepted a job with Dirk Auferoth & Associates and has been perfecting his skills on high-end cabinetry for clients in New York City.

Chris Killion

Class of 2013

Chris came to us from the west coast, which happens more often than you might think. He had some woodworking experience as a theatrical technical director, but was ready to make a fairly drastic change in his employment and his life.

“After almost 30 years as a theatrical technical director, I was looking to take my shop skills to the next level, change my career and start my own business. A lengthy search led me to NESAW and it was definitely the right choice. Greg & Margaret Larson and all the folks at NESAW provided me with the skills I needed to take the next big step.”

Greg Pachico

Class of 2013

Greg worked as a finisher in a cabinet shop in his home state of Rhode Island doing finishing, but really preferred woodworking. He decided to attend NESAW to broaden his skills and help him break into the industry. After graduation, Greg went to work in a small shop in Holyoke, MA, then moved on to Kenyon Woodworking in Boston, MA where he is still working. Over time, he’s been given more responsibility and is now helping run projects in the shop.

“Attending NESAW has really helped me jump start my career in cabinetmaking. Over the course of the program, I feel I developed more than enough knowledge and skills to start working in the industry right away. I would recommend this program to anyone looking to start a career in architectural woodworking.”

Matt Richardson

Class of 2012

Matt came to us on the GI Bill after six years in the Navy SeaBees. He moved back to his home town of Natchitoches, Louisiana after completing NESAW in June of 2012. In 2013, he officially started his business (Richardson Custom Woodworking) specializing in cabinets, finish carpentry, and millwork, and occasionally furniture. Word is spreading about the quality of his work and he’s starting to pick up more high end jobs.

“The school is a potential steppingstone to a whole new career in the industry. Greg and the staff at NESAW are highly skilled knowledgeable craftsmen with a keen eye for detail and the exact type of people you want to learn from. NESAW not only gives you the working knowledge and skills to succeed, but also the confidence to truly achieve your woodworking goals. I can’t think of investing in anything better than yourself, and that is what you’re doing with NESAW. I had a blast and I’m sure you will too.”

Mike Coyle

Class of 2012

Mike also joined us on the GI Bill after a stint in the Navy.  Looking for a new career, he chose NESAW because cabinetmaking seemed like a trade that would not only be interesting, but would also build on skills he already had.  Mike interned at Wright Millwork in Northampton, MA during school and was offered a permanent job shortly before he graduated where he still works. Starting as a helper, he’s since worked his way up to cabinetmaker with his own bench.

Ryan Reid

Class of 2012

After graduating with a degree in Operations Management, Ryan decided he really wanted a career where he could work with his hands while utilizing his college education. Ryan’s passioned for woodworking was inherited from his grandfather and eventually led him to enroll at NESAW to pursue a career in cabinetmaking. He was snapped up quickly by Mark Richey Woodworking in Newburyport, MA, one of the largest architectural millwork shops in the Northeast.

“Entering the woodworking industry is something I’m very proud of. After learning what I did at NESAW, stepping into a real shop was an easy transition for me. My job at Mark Richey Woodworking is full of new surprises, both good and bad, every day. I work with great materials and top of the line industrial equipment and really enjoy what I do, but it does take patience and foresight. Going to NESAW was a great decision for me because it led me to a full time job in what I love to do. Thank you Greg and NESAW!”

Jack Straus

Class of 2011

Originally from Connecticut, Jack moved to Bozeman, Montana after graduation and works for contractors doing everything from pouring concrete and framing to making hand-carved stair parts and cabinetry. He also takes on his own commissions for cabinetry and furniture.

“My time at NESAW was invaluable in two ways. I learned to develop systems for self checking my work and anticipating future conflicts in the project; thinking ahead in this way is the key to efficient and accurate work. NESAW also taught me about fundamental tooling and materials. I constantly meet carpenters and cabinetmakers who have no idea how to accurately sharpen a hand plane, use a set of scribes, or create a jig to perform a repetitive task. One shop had reclaimed white oak counter-tops returned because they were fastened tight to the cabinetry with no consideration for seasonal movement. I think it is hard to learn the basics on the job without going through a program like NESAW.”

Stephanie Sawyer

Class of 2010

It was by chance that a family member happened to see an ad for our Open House in the newspaper. After visiting, Stephanie knew wanted to take classes here and started by taking Fine Woodworking Levels I & II, offered by The Workbench. She enjoyed the classes so much that she decided to attend the career training program. After that, everything started falling into place and she embarked on a successful new career.

“Through NESAW, I apprenticed with a New Hampshire Furniture Masters member named Aurelio Bolognesi, and with the knowledge and experienced gained at the school and in the apprenticeship, I was hired to build custom cabinetry and furniture for City Joinery right here in Easthampton, MA.  It’s only because of my training at NESAW that I have been able to follow my dreams of finding a career in woodworking/furniture-making.”

Richard Alvarado

Class of 2011

After losing his job at a countertop fabrication company, Richard took advantage of WIA unemployment funding to attend NESAW.  Because he was good with his hands and had been exposed to a number of tools and techniques that are also used in the woodworking industry, cabinetmaking was a natural career choice.  Richard has worked for Parisi Inc. in Chicopee, MA and is currently working for VCA Inc. in Northampton, MA which builds high end furniture and cabinetry for New York and other major markets.

Ryan Williams

Class of 2010

After graduating from NESAW, Ryan immediately went to work for VCA Inc. in Northampton, MA where he has had an extremely successful career working as a cabinetmaker with increasing levels of responsibility. VCA specializes in high-end custom furniture and cabinetry for New York and other large markets. In addition to his work at VCA, Ryan has taught our Intro to Cabinetmaking workshop for the past three years and recently built his first guitar.

Tim Carlson

Class of 2009

After graduation, Tim procured a coveted apprenticeship with renowned furniture maker Aurelio Bolognesi which allowed him to explore his passion for furniture-making and further hone his woodworking skills. This led to a position with City Joinery in Easthampton, MA where Tim still works.  As you can see from the gallery above, Tim has worked on some interesting and challenging projects at his current job and in his own time.

“Quite simply NESAW changed my life, and for the better! Not only was my time there a wonderful learning experience, but it was directly responsible for my apprenticeship with a furniture maker, as well as my current job making custom furniture for City Joinery. I am one of the lucky ones who loves what I do, and NESAW is where it all started.”

Arlin Peterman

Class of 2009

After studying music at Boston University, Arlin decided he wanted to pursue a different career and enrolled at NESAW to explore another one of his passions. He’s currently working at Possession Point Woodworking on beautiful Whidbey Island in Washington state. It is a small, two-person shop, primarily focusing on residential cabinetry and furniture.

“NESAW provided me with the skills necessary to have a successful career in woodworking. Since graduating, I have worked in three different shops. While each one has been unique, the foundational woodworking skills I received at NESAW provided me with a knowledge base that allowed me to thrive in each environment.”

Amber Valentine

Class of 2009

Amber worked in retail before coming to NESAW. After graduation, she moved to Pennsylvania, securing a great position in a small shop. Eventually, she realized that she missed New England and returned to the Pioneer Valley. She was able to immediately find work at Wright Millwork as a finisher, which is one of the skills she learned at NESAW.

Jonathon Smith

Class of 2009

After spending 30 years in the corporate world, Jonathon pursued his lifelong love of woodworking.  Following graduation, Jonathan started his own business, Dimensions In Quality LLC, a cabinetry and architectural woodworking business located at his home in Katonah, NY and serving the New York and Connecticut area. Dimensions in Quality focuses on the residential market, working with customers from design to installation.

“NESAW provided me with the skills and knowledge to turn a passion for woodworking into a successful business. While there, I sharpened my skills and learned the production-oriented techniques that allow me to produce quality cabinets and built-ins in a cost effective and timely manner.”

Jules Anderson

Class of 2008

Jules currently lives and works in upstate NY and runs her own business, SloWood Furniture and Design.

“Attending NESAW really started a whole new direction in life for me; the skills that I learnt and built upon during the course were world class and I continue to expand and use them on a daily basis. It also gave me the confidence to tackle any project and compete with other designers/fabricators. I have since added mig, tig and stick welding to my repertoire to help literally and figuratively support my woodworking.”

Mike Madara

Class of 2008

After realizing that college wasn’t for him, Mike decided on a lark to attend NESAW. He’s glad it did because it has led to a very successful career in the architectural millwork industry.  Mike interned during school with Wright Millwork in Northampton, MA, a manufacturer of high end commercial millwork, and was offered a permanent position right after graduation. He started as a helper, moved on to cabinetmaker, and was recently promoted to shop foreman.

Marcus Verteramo

Class of 2008

Following graduation, Marcus began working as a cabinetmaker for Dirk Auferoth & Associates. He knew that in a small shop, you must know every part of the cabinetmaking process. He started drafting part time in 2012 and full time in 2013.

“Being good at drafting is not just knowing to use the drafting program; you also need to understand the materials and construction methods being used. The hands-on experience I received while at NESAW has helped throughout my woodworking career. It gave me a leg up on other cabinet makers who have been in the field for the same time. Every shop builds things differently but wood movement and joinery stay the same; knowing these things helps when creating drawings for the shop to use. Greg is great at assessing your abilities and passion and connecting you to a shop he feels you would work well in. He has a vast network of shops in the northeast that he can recommend to you. Since I have been working at DA & Assoc., we have hired several NESAW graduates and have had great experiences with them. Knowing that a new person has been properly trained in the safety measures means we don’t have to spend that time training them from scratch.

Many shops do not like hiring someone who has no experience in the woodworking field. By graduating from NESAW you will have not only a woodworking education to put on your resume, but also the experience most shops are looking for.”

Ben Paus-Weiler

Class of 2007

Ben found a job in the industry within a month after graduating from NESAW. He came back to us years later to teach night classes for The Workbench before moving to Portland, OR to pursue other woodworking opportunities.

“Since graduation I have enjoyed an incredibly satisfying career in the field. NESAW guided me to that path through excellent teaching and state of the art technology currently being utilized in every shop in the country. I  received more out of the program than I ever anticipated and I’m overjoyed every day with the path that NESAW set me on.”