New Beginnings: Fine Woodworking Program at Maine State Prison
June 6, 2013 | 9:17 pm CDT
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Detail of Dovetail stool, 1st project of the Prison Industries Fine Woodworking Program
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Instructors L-R: Jeremy S. Gallant, Brian Reid, Howard Hatch, Dylan Fuller.
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Mirror, 2nd project of the Prison Industries Fine Woodworking Program

ROCKLAND, ME –Furniture Master Brian Reid is pleased to announce the commencement of a Fine Woodworking Program in the Maine State Prison, Warren. The program currently includes ten students and teaches all aspects of fine woodworking, such as the intricate details of hand-cut dovetails; mortise-and-tenon joinery; and sanding and finishing techniques. Reid’s idea is to create a self-sustaining program wherein the current prisoner students would learn skills that they could then pass on to the next group of prisoner students. The students meet every Sunday and are learning to build cabinets, tables and chairs. Reid, a longtime instructor, modeled the curriculum on the program he teaches at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, ME.

Reid's desire to create a fine woodworking program in the Maine Prison System grew after hearing his New Hampshire Furniture Master colleagues describe the rewards of teaching in the New Hampshire prison system through a program sponsored by the New Hampshire Institute of Furniture Making. After several meetings with Robert Walden, director, Maine Correctional Industries and Ken Lindsey, manager, Warren Prison Industries, Reid's program was approved by Joseph Ponte, commissioner, Maine Department of Corrections. The Maine Prison program commenced in August 2012. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks generously donated the majority of the hand tools that the program needed to begin instruction and many fine furniture makers donated tools, including a high-quality German table saw.

Current instructors in the program, in addition to Reid, include: Dylan Fuller (Thomaston), Howard Hatch (Augusta) and Jeremy S. Gallant (Portsmouth, NH). To date, the students have made a small bench, a small mirror and a Shaker-style table. Tyra Hanson, owner of The Gallery at Somes Sound, Somesville, is a sponsor of the Maine Prison Fine Woodworking Program and will begin selling the students' wares in her gallery in late May 2013. The prisoners’ work will also be displayed in a special section at the Maine Prison Store in Thomaston. Proceeds from the sale will be used to buy additional tools and materials.

Former New Hampshire Superior Court Justice Kathleen A. McGuire, who was instrumental in persuading the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association (NHFMA) to create the Prison Outreach Program, writes: "The Furniture Masters provide an incomparable opportunity for inmates to learn highly sophisticated woodworking techniques. Time spent in prison becomes more productive and the inmates, 98 percent of whom are released from prison at some point, are better prepared to earn a living on the outside. But there are other, intangible benefits to this program. These craftsmen are dedicated family men and responsible members of their community. They are good men who set a good example with personal strengths and values each time they work side by side with an inmate."

Currently, Reid is fundraising to secure monies to pay instructors who donate eight-plus hours per month of teaching time towards this program. Donations of working tools are also greatly appreciated. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by federal law. For more information, contact Brian Reid at (207) 319-3621 or [email protected] or visit

Brian Reid Furniture

Brian Reid, a Midcoast Maine resident since 2005, is a fine furniture maker based in Rockland, and a lead instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Rockport.

To learn more about the Maine Prison Program, call Brian Reid at (207) 319-3621 or visit

New Hampshire Institute of Furniture Making (NHIFM)

The New Hampshire Institute of Furniture Making (NHIFM), a non-profit 501 (c) (3) is the educational arm of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association (NHFMA) and fiscal sponsor of the Maine Fine Woodworking Program. NHIFM has ten board members who support NHFMA educational activities. Tax deductible donations can be sent to: Mary McLaughlin, c/o TD Bank, 143 N. Main St., Concord, NH 03301. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by federal law.


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