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The Woodschool Blog

Meet Dave Messmer: Student, Studio Fellow, Shop Assistant

Written by Michaela Stone on .


What inspired you to learn woodworking?

Growing up I had the distinct pleasure of a having a father and grandfather who would make me all sorts of wooden toys. Something about the way they were able to turn my desire for an object into reality sparked my interest. I started building my own toy swords and tree forts somewhere around 3rd grade, and when I got to middle school I couldn’t wait to take shop class; we made a wooden piggy bank, which I still use. I was fortunate that my school had a strong woodshop program; I took a woodshop class every year from 7th grade until my senior year. My teacher, John Barkee, was fantastic and encouraged me to pursue a career in woodworking.


Where were you, and what were you up to before coming to the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship?

After high school I attended SUNY Morrisville where I earned a degree in Wood Technology. For a short time I was employed in a mid sized commercial cabinet shop in Syracuse, NY. I grew weary of particleboard and laminate, so I decided to open my own shop on my family’s farm in Interlaken, NY. I worked part time for myself, building furniture and doing a fair amount of finish carpentry for about 4 years. The other part of my time I spent as a partner in my families artisanal cheese business. During those years I realized I had a gap in my education when it came to the use and care of hand tools and the finer points of furniture design. I honestly don’t remember when I first heard of CFC, but I think it was around 2008. It seemed like the perfect place and I promised myself I would go when I had the time and resources. That time finally came in February of 2014.


davemessmer2photo by Mark Juliana

You’ve been a student, fellow, and assistant at the school. Can you describe some of your experiences and what you’ve learned from them?

I took the Twelve-week Intensive in the spring of 2014, and then was awarded a Studio Fellowship for an additional 5 months. During my time as a fellow I built several projects, the most involved was a chaise lounge. I wanted to challenge myself with curved joinery, double tapered laminations and Danish cord weaving. The project was the perfect vehicle.

I loved the school so much I came back as a shop assistant for the summer of 2015. The assistantship was an amazing experience. I was able to learn from all the classes that I assisted in and from the amazing instructors teaching them; I also really enjoyed working one-on-one with students to help them progress. It revealed an interest in teaching that I wasn’t aware existed.

If I try to synthesize what I’ve learned at the CFC into one concept I think it would be how to pay attention to detail. I learned to look closer and analyze each process as a unique thing deserving careful study and focused attention, and that improving each step is the best way to improve the final outcome as a whole.


davemessmer4photo by Mark Juliana

What role do you expect woodworking to play in your life in the near and/or distant future?

I expect woodworking to have a major role in my future. Since leaving CFC I have invested in a website and marketing materials. My goal is to grow my current business to be profitable and sustainable for the future, and hopefully employ other furniture makers as well.

What are a few other interests you have, aside from woodworking?

Professionally, I have an interest in business. I’m currently studying entrepreneurship and business strategy at Cornell’s Dyson school of Applied Economics. Creating a venture and watching it grow is very exciting to me. I plan to grow my business so that it can provide livelihood for more people than just myself.

In my non-work time I love adventures and the outdoors. Few things get me as excited as being able to get lost in nature. I enjoy mountain biking, trail running and hiking, camping, fishing and hunting. I’m also big into traveling - road trips are the best. I’m rarely at home on my time off.

davemessmer3photo by Jan Regan

What do you like most about the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship?

In addition to the excellent curricula and instruction, I really love the sense of community that the school has fostered. I believe anyone who has spent time at CFC can attest to the fact that there seems to be an incredibly positive, creative, and relational energy buzzing around. The teachers and faculty are always incredibly open with their knowledge and students do not hesitate to share what they are learning or jump in to offer advice.

Check out Dave's fantastic new website:

Mastering Veneered Boxes

Written by Michaela Stone on .


A very unique course is in session over in the workshop building. Mastering Veneered Boxes is a two-week workshop focused on exploring intricate pattern on simple form, taught by Adrian Ferrazzutti and Aaron Fedarko. Students have been carefully composing studies in geometry, repetition, and color with stripes of shop-sawn veneer. Before cutting into the real thing, however, they popped over to the office to photocopy the actual wood itself, in order to experiment with patterns on paper instead of using up precious material. Now they are moving on to the challenging techniques of cutting and joining veneer; luckily, though, they have two true experts on hand to guide them.

Final Days of the Summer Twelve-week Intensive

Written by Michaela Stone on .



The end of the summer Twelve-week Furniture Intensive is always a little bittersweet. The sun sets a little earlier, nights are a little cooler, and we have to say goodbye to an incredibly hard-working and creative group of students. It's so exciting, though, to see what those students have created in their time here at school, and to hear what they have planned for the future. Some will return to their pre-woodworking lives, but with a new-found passion and deep knowledge of their hobby; others will take the plunge and open their own shops, making furniture full-time; and some will continue their education in woodworking in a number of ways, including our Nine-month Comprehensive.

Sarah Marriage Awarded Mineck Fellowship

Written by Michaela Stone on .


Sarah Marriage, one of our current Studio Fellows, has been awarded the prestigious John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship from the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston. Sarah plans to use the grant toward opening a group shop for women in woodworking. As part of the award, her work is being featured in a show at the SAC's gallery called Stay in Touch: Seven Years of the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship. Work from all seven Mineck award winners will be on display, including that of former Center for Furniture Craftsmanship student and faculty member, Libby Schrum. See more of Sarah's work HERE, and learn more about the Mineck award HERE.

Congratulations, Sarah!

Precision with Hand Tools with Garrett Hack

Written by Michaela Stone on .



One of our popular summer workshops is the Precision with Hand Tools course taught by Garrett Hack. Through making a small end table, students gain a deep understanding of how to use and fine-tune hand tools for precise, high-quality work. Working efficiently with hand tools instead of machines requires patience and hard work, but can also be a far more pleasant experience for a woodworker, and it imbues a piece with the subtle nuance of the hand of the maker. I'm always impressed by how much students in this class learn and create in just one week.

Current Work in the Studio Fellowship

Written by Michaela Stone on .




Incredible things are happening in the Studio Fellowship building these days. The creativity, skill, and work ethic of the five fellows is unparalleled, and they raise the energy level throughout campus with their inspiring work. While their personalities meld together harmoniously, the work they produce has impressive range. From sleek utilitarian functionality, to sculptural studies in form, to conceptual explorations, this group of woodworkers is a fantastic example of how boundless the future of furniture design will be.

2015 Open House

Written by Michaela Stone on .


At this year's Annual Open House, as guests started to arrive, the walkway became speckled with a polka dot pattern of raindrops. Up above, a single ominous cloud hovered in what was otherwise a bright and sunny sky. Just when the frustrating thought of moving everything inside crept into the minds of the staff, the cloud floated away just as inconspicuously as it had approached. It was a huge relief; although, to be fair, rain hasn't stopped us from having a blast before.

Each year at the end of June members of our local community are invited to our biggest party. With food and drink in hand, guests perused the New Work by Faculty exhibit in the Messler Gallery, as well as the many works in progress by current students and studio fellows throughout campus.