Fine Woodworking: Masterful Helping Hand

By | July 13, 2017

Thank you to Elizabeth Healy for her article about Grant Burger, Greg Brown and our Alden Artisan Advancement. We hope it will inspire you to apply for the 2018 Alden Award,

NHFMA helps furniture maker Grant Burger in his quest to go pro

Jul 11, 2017
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Not too long ago, professional furniture maker and carver Greg Brown was pondering an age-old woodworking question: Why is it so hard for aspiring furniture makers to make a go of it?

“My own frustrations with just simply emerging in this field and seeing the dismal job opportunities for students graduating from trade and art schools gave me the idea to pay it forward,” Brown said. As a member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masterswho was grateful for the opportunities the organization had placed before him, Brown started thinking about what he could do to help share some of the group’s considerable expertise with an emerging maker.

Grant Burger at work on his settee

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Marine Corps veteran and mixed martial arts fighter Grant Burger was busy competing in the Full Contact Fighting Federation in Portland, Ore., and thinking about a different, possibly less dangerous, way he could use his hands to make a living. Having discovered a love of making things from wood, he started working as a carpenter and doing woodworking projects at home. After moving to Pittsburgh, one day he read a Fine Woodworking article by Dan Faia about building a bombé chest, realized Faia taught at a place called North Bennet Street School in Boston, and had a marvelous idea. He’d use his VA education benefits to really learn this rewarding craft.

A convergence of quests

The two woodworkers’ quests—Brown’s to help an emerging furniture maker and Burger’s to become one—came together last fall after Brown, with the backing of the NHFMA and his patrons, established the Alden Artisan Advancement, a grant for aspiring professional furniture makers. Named for Brown’s grandfather, Alden Hobart, the Alden Artisan Advancement offered the recipient $1,000 to develop and promote an original furniture piece, to be exhibited at the Masters’ Main Event in October, professionally photographed, and featured in the NHFMA’s annual catalog in the “emerging artist” section. In addition, the winner would have the benefit of feedback on the piece, be able to partake in all marketing events, and would receive professional guidance from members of the organization.

To read entire article:

To apply for the 2018 Alden Artisan Advancement:

Lucille by Grant Burger

Photos by Bill Truslow

Detail of “Lucille” by Grant Burger

“Lucille” by Grant Burger