Al Breed

Carving in the Newport Style

July 11-15, 2022


Allan Breed

Cabinet and Chair Maker, Carver


The origins of my present career as a cabinetmaker and carver lie in my fascination with history, architecture and archaeology while growing up in New England. As I grew into my teens, my major interest became the early furniture of the area and culminated with a job in the restoration department at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston at the age of 19. I worked under Vincent Cerbone, an Italian trained cabinetmaker, and it was from Vinnie that I learned the rudiments of hide glue, carving theory and furniture construction while we took apart and reassembled pieces from the museum’s collection.

After leaving the museum I went on to get a degree in History and set up my own furniture restoration business doing work for museums and collectors. It was by working on period furniture that I learned cabinetmaking, and have gone on to reproduce many of the iconic pieces of American furniture, from the Nicholas Brown Newport secretary to a Reynolds Philadelphia Rococo mirror from the Metropolitan Museum in NY. In addition, I have made demonstration pieces and videos and given lectures in conjunction with several major museum exhibits, including the Phyfe and Townsend exhibits at the Met in NY, the “New England Begins” exhibit at the MFA in Boston and others. In 2012 I received the Cartouche Award from the Society of American Period Furniture Makers.

Throughout my career I have taught and lectured on early cabinetmaking practice, connoisseurship and hand tool cabinetmaking at my shop and at sites across the country including the education departments of both Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York. I have presented many demonstrations and lectures at the Winterthur Furniture Forum as well as lectures on American furniture connoisseurship at Bayou Bend, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and others.

I have handled and evaluated hundreds of pieces of early furniture in the course of my work, and I believe this experience sets me apart from many other modern practitioners of the craft.

Here's a nice video about Al by Fine Woodworking Magazine.  


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Carving in the Newport Style

Learn the hallmark elements of this prized colonial style

July 11-15, 2022

Some of the most highly prized furniture by today’s collectors and museums was built in Newport, Rhode Island in the second half of the 18th century. Wealthy families commissioned elegantly proportioned and embellished pieces from the Townsend and Goddard families as well as other skilled Rhode Island craftsmen. There’s a great reward in challenging yourself as a craftsperson and recreating one or more of these iconic works. In this class I will pass on the basic processes and tricks I’ve learned in making nearly 30 Newport pieces over the years. We will cover the hallmark Newport elements: concave and convex shells, ball and claw and bracket feet and the Egyptian-like sparse knee carving seen nowhere else in colonial America.


Tool List

  • #49 rasp, cabinet scrapers like Lie-Nielsen hand scraper set, dividers like Lee Valley 05N20.01, low angle block plane like Veritas 01, 05P22.51, a spokeshave like Woodjoy 2″ performance spokeshave

  • Carving tools 1-3, *1-8, 1½″ paring chisel, ¼″ same

  • *3-8, *3-12 fishtail, 3-16, 3-25, 3-30

  • 5-5, *5-12, 5-20, 5-25, 5-35

  • 7-8, 7-20

  • *8-4, *8-10, 8-11, 8-13, 8-16

  • 9-3, *9-10, 9-13, 9-5 fishtail

  • 11-2, *11-3, 11-7, 11-10

  • 12-3 bent (12A-3), *12-8

  • backbent gouges 25-3, 25-6, 25-6, 25-10, 28-10

* indicates availability as an intermediate size. I recommend these as they are easier to use and cost less.

10% Off Lie-Nielsen Tools

Lie-Nielsen will give a 10% discount on any tools purchased by students for a class. This only applies to tools they make, not other brands that they carry.

Five-Day Course

Skill Level - Intermediate

Tuition - $950, plus materials fee TBD

Registration information here

There will be a small materials fee which will be determined as we get closer to the class. 

Be sure to fill out the questionnaire (contact info and ideas for future classes) and to include the one-time $55 Registration fee with your payment. As always, William will be sending updates and further information as we get closer to the class start.  Please look over the extensive Camden information, as well as parking, lodging, etc. on the Maine Coast Workshop website. 

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