Passion for woodworking: Handcrafted furniture business growing into large space in Lewiston

Woodworkers at Square Manufacturing Co. are, from left, William Nesson, Adam Rogers, Pete Basil, Garett Jacobs, Dave Maguire and Bramm Watkin. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Flip over a finished piece of hardwood furniture made by Square Manufacturing and you’ll likely find a signature from one of its seven craftsmen.

From start to finish, the wood is measured, cut and assembled by the same person.

The goal is not to maximize production. Adam Rogers, one of Square Manufacturing’s founders, and his fellow woodworkers just want to follow their passion and earn enough to live.

“(Square Furniture) is in fact a business, but in some ways, it’s kind of like a project,” Rogers said. “Like, how can we all just do what we love and have enough money to live the lifestyle that we want?”

Already, the business is making a name for itself in Maine and beyond. Saddleback’s new pub features chairs and tables made by their woodworkers, and they’re building furniture for a company in New York.

Rather than hinder their growth, the labor intensive process of creating furniture pieces from start to finish has set their business apart from the competition.

Dave Maguire, left, and William Nesson build tables Monday at Square Manufacturing Co. in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“It’s just the consequences of a bunch of people practicing their craft and really committed to the quality of those objects,” he said. “It’s all handmade, well crafted, quality work made by one person.”

Two years ago, the promise of a contract with Chilton Furniture was enough for Rogers, Pete Basil and Garett Jacobs to quit their full-time jobs and start Square Manufacturing. They brought a modest collection of machinery and tools to a space on Main Street in Lewiston, where they stayed until last month.

Now in a larger space on Gendron Drive off River Road, Rogers said they’re turning down business because they don’t yet have enough staff to meet the demand. They’re hoping to hire two more woodworkers soon to increase their capacity.

“I don’t know what the size of this thing is, however big it needs to be so we can all make enough money, pay everybody what they deserve, and continue to make better and better quality work,” Rogers said. “Right now, it feels like maybe it’s a dozen people, (but) you don’t really know.”

All of their wood — walnut, cherry and maple, to name a few — is domestically sourced.

Rogers brushed over the sustainability aspects of the business, noting, “A lot of companies will espouse sustainably harvested lumber, but to us that’s not even worth mentioning, (it’s) sort of a given.”

Woodworker Bramm Watkin begins the process Monday of making furniture at Square Manufacturing Co. in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Even the scraps are put to good use. Leftover pieces are burned as firewood or given to a local who makes small crafts. The sawdust, too, is saved for a dairy farmer in Turner.

Some of their projects are routine. They might make 10 of the same dining tables in the same day. But other projects, they said, might take two weeks to complete.

Creating furniture for private contracts is one side of their business, but they also work with interior designers to help bring unique visions to life. The diversity of projects means that the woodworkers at Square Manufacturing are constantly growing their skills and challenging themselves to go beyond what they’ve created before.

Rogers said they’re especially proud that their underlying philosophy remains the same as the day they began the business.

“We haven’t had to compromise what our goals were when we started,” Rogers said. “We don’t have to make work that we don’t believe in. We don’t have to pay people low wages, we’re genuinely trying to do the right thing. Focus on the work that we want to make and what they deserve, and still keep the lights on. I think that feels good.”


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