A few months ago Dave Heller, a custom furniture maker and Marquetry expert, reached out to me about teaching at the Wood and Shop Traditional Woodworking School. When he brought over some of his fine furniture, I was really impressed. He’s truly an artist, and way better than me! (You can see his furniture here on his website and here on his Instagram account).
Like many woodworkers, Dave first pursued woodworking as a hobby. He worked as a Chemical Engineer during the day, and taught himself to build furniture for his small family in his spare time. His work as a chemical engineer was intellectually stimulating, but left him longing for a profession where he could create something tangible. Eventually he was able to make the transition into making furniture full time.
Now Dave builds custom furniture for clients out of his detached Cape Cod style workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia. His charming studio workshop serves as both a work space and as a gallery for customers.
I recently stopped by for a visit during a local Charlottesville artisan studio tour, and got to see the amazed faces of visitors as they inspected Dave’s artistic furniture.
Dave uses a mix of power tools and hand tools to build his furniture, and has tidy stations for different stages of his work. He uses an electric winch to raise and lower furniture and tools up into the attic of his workshop. He told me that he especially favors a certain Canadian tool maker, because of the great value and design they offer. I also sense that it may have a little to do with the fact that Dave is from Canada.
Dave is a member of The Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) and occasionally writes articles for the society and gives demonstrations at their events.
Dave Heller spent many years following the steps of other furniture makers by making reproduction period-style pieces, but developed his own style over the years, especially after he dove deeply into veneering and marquetry. His inlay work is truly masterful. His more recent work tends to lean toward the Art Nouveau style of furniture. Here are some of my favorite pieces that Dave has built:
In the near future I’ll be releasing two tutorials that I filmed with Dave Heller; the first on making London-style Dovetails with miters, and the second on doing a wood inlay project. Make sure you’re subscribed to our free newsletter (below), so you’ll be notified when these tutorials are released. You’ll also be notified when I release our 2019 class schedule so you can sign up to attend one of Dave’s classes!