If you are meeting Tommy for the first time – here is a representation of his work. Throughout the show he will be building smaller weekend projects.
Thomas J. MacDonald became a fine-furniture maker by accident, literally. A union carpenter for 17 years, he separated his shoulder in 1997 while laboring on Boston's Big Dig. "I just kind of fell into woodworking. I was recovering from a shoulder injury, and a friend encouraged me to look into North Bennet Street School. When I checked it out, I was immediately inspired by all the incredible work there. The passion and precision just spoke to me right away. That was a decade ago, and I have remained passionate about woodworking ever since." He was accepted to the city's prestigious North Bennet Street School, which has been training craftspeople since 1885.
Favored by Home Again's Bob Vila, MacDonald's 18th-century reproductions, such as his Hepplewhite sideboard that sold for $50,000, have garnered numerous accolades.
“You’re talking about one of the best furniture makers today….” (The Boston Globe)
“Your work is absolutely beautiful.” (Bob Vila)
“His passion for the craft pours from him like sawdust off a dado blade.” (Woodworker’s Guild of America)
Among his numerous awards, Thomas MacDonald was awarded "Best in Show" at the 2006 Providence Fine Furnishings Show for his body of work. Competing against hundreds of other furniture makers, MacDonald's work stood out as the highest quality and most creative traditional pieces at the show. The award was for "Body of Work" showing that MacDonald's mastery is expressed throughout his different pieces, each one showing his impeccable skill and attention to detail.
The Salem Block Front Secretary
Tommy built his Salem Block Front Secretary while he was at the North Bennet Street School. This is the piece that caught Bob Vila’s eye and propelled Tommy into the national spotlight. The Salem Secretary was bought by a private client and is now in New Hampshire. This desk and bookcase were inspired by a distinct group of exceptional case pieces made in Salem, Mass., in the late 18th century. It features period correct proportions, hand-carved details, blocking profiles, ball-and-claw feet, moldings, and interior layout. In the construction of the piece, the grain patterns and color of the four lower drawers, lid, writing surface, book matched doors, moldings, and pediment details were purposely chosen in relation to their original location in a single 2-inch thick, 42-inch-wide-by-14-foot-long mahogany board. The sides were chosen in the same fashion from a 1-1/4-inch thick mahogany board measuring 30-inches-wide-by-12-feet long. The hand-shaped wood inside the desk and bookcase was chosen with the same attention to grain and pattern. The finish is a hand rubbed shellac French polish, color matched to give it a warm, rich, glowing patina through the entire piece. Bold brass hardware, typical of the period, finishes the secretary. Dimensions: 103-inches high, 45-inches wide, 24-1/2-inches deep.
The pricetag: Estimated at $100,000
This breakfront was inspired by one built around 1810 constructed out of solid mahogany. The sides, bottom and top are dovetailed together for superior strength. The middle supports are fastened with dovetails on the bottom through tenons with wedges at the top. The legs have matching graduated bellflowers and stringing and the spade feet are cut out from a solid leg blank. The doors are solid 1/4 sawn clear pine counter veneered with mahogany, face veneered with an exceptional crotch mahogany veneer, and boasts two book-matched left and right doors. The ovals are inside hand made black and white banding. The drawers are built out of solid mahogany counter and veneered with the same crotch wood book-matched out with maple stringing solid pine sides and bottoms. The top drawer oval is made from a piece of book-matched veneer surrounded by the same black and white banding.
The George Hepplewhite sideboard design inspired by John Seymour is constructed with mahogany and features include a D-shaped sideboard with spade feet, graduated bellflower drop, curly maple banded borders, oval ivory escutcheons, corner brackets in the center arch, side carrying handles and a superb selection of choice mahogany which retains a fine bronze patina. Dimensions: 40" high, 5'8" wide, 26 "deep.
Sold for: $50,000
The Bombe Secretary
"After winning Best in Show for Body of Work in Providence, I met up with the director of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and found their Bombe Secretary there. So that’s how I decided to build that. I believe that was like my personal Mt. Everest, because when I was a student, I never, ever, thought I was going to be able to complete that thing.It took over 14 months to build and cost over $80,000. Once it was finished, I went back to the museum and it was on display in the RISD museum for 6 months, next to the original."
Today it is estimated to be worth: $300,000