Thos. Moser heirloom bureau
Photo: Russell Kaye

Craftsmanship Meets Nature

At Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, a small but world-renowned shop in Auburn, Maine, David Moser picks up three cherry boards and lays them edge to edge. He’s hunting for pieces that will match up so well that no joint will show when they’re glued together to form the top of an American Bungalow dresser. Selecting the wood that will go into each piece is the first critical step in creating finely crafted cherry furniture.

It’s a ritual driven by a deep reverence for this wood. All of David Moser’s cherry comes from a 119,000-acre, sustainably managed parcel in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Plateau, where big 75- and 100-year-old specimens produce a clear, rich-colored wood unmatched elsewhere in the tree’s range. For stock of this provenance, it would be a sin to muddy the grain with stain or hide it under paint, so pieces are treated only with clear penetrating oil and wax.

Such a finish gives cherry a remarkable luster and translucence, but it also reveals every imperfection. That’s why selecting the wood for a dresser can sometimes take longer than it does to cut and assemble it.
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