meet the makers | Apr 11, 2024 |
This woodworker keeps a journal of every piece he’s ever made

At 10 years old, while other kids were playing jump rope and riding bikes, Jim Boisvert was attending a tool show with his mother. There, he saw a man demonstrating the Shopsmith 5-in-1 table saw, sparking a lifelong passion for woodworking.

Jim Boisvert of Thos. Moser
Jim BoisvertCourtesy of Thos. Moser

Growing up in Lewiston, Maine, Boisvert took woodworking classes in middle school and spent his free time reading books on the subject. Then in 1982, while in trade school, he enrolled in a furniture making class by local brand Thos. Moser, where he was the youngest student. For eight hours every Saturday, he was immersed in the world of woodworking and learned how to build pieces by hand.

He went to work as a carpenter in commercial construction, but found his way back to the heritage brand in July of 1993, when company founder Thomas Moser himself offered him a position as a craftsman. Boisvert has never looked back.

“You come in here and you start your job. You’re working on that piece until it goes to the finishing room. You’re sanding it and you’re fitting pieces,” he tells Business of Home. “It’s like you’re part of that piece.”

Thos. Moser, which celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2022, is known for hand-crafted, American-made wood furniture. A true vertically integrated operation, the company has a factory in Auburn, Maine, and four showrooms across the country—it doesn’t sell to other retailers and only produces made-to-order pieces.

The Continuous Arm Chair by Thos. Moser
The Continuous Arm ChairCourtesy of Thos. Moser

The company’s manufacturing process is built on a respect for wood and a mix of technology and old-school craftsmanship. When orders are placed, construction begins in the rough mill, where lumber is matched for grain and color. The wood is then cut to size, and the pieces are shaped on a CNC machine, creating a build kit that moves to its respective department—either chairs, tables, beds or cases. This is where Boisvert comes in. As a craftsman in the case department, he assembles each piece and sands it until it goes to the final stage, the finishing department. There, the piece is sprayed with a coat of oil to bring out the color, then sanded and finally sprayed with a lacquer finish for protection.

“If you go to a big-box store and you look at other furniture, it’s made with melamine, and the wood is not all that great,” he says. “[Our pieces] are all done by hand with mortise-and-tenon joinery, and some cases are dovetailed together. This furniture, to me, will last forever.”

Recently, Boisvert built a New Century China Bed, a Radius Desk featuring six legs and a curved edge, and a Studio Media Case for Thos. Moser. The brand is known for its Continuous Arm Chair, which was designed in 1978 and is still a top-selling item. Which is his favorite? Well, all of them. “Every piece here I just talked about, that’s my favorite piece,” he says.

Boisvert’s notebook
Boisvert’s notebookCourtesy of Thos. Moser

Twenty years ago, a colleague told Boisvert he should keep track of what he makes, and he has done so ever since. To ensure that he will always remember what pieces he has made, the craftsman keeps a journal next to him at work, where he catalogs what he builds and the day he finishes it. “I keep it as a record for myself,” he says. “When I get older, I can open that and say, Wow, I made that many pieces. That time went by this fast—it’s unbelievable.”

Boisvert leaves a piece of himself in all 1,500 pieces he has made over the years. Literally. He puts his signature at the bottom of every item. “You don’t get to do that in a lot of other places,” he says. “To sign your name on a piece that you build below the Thos. Moser [logo]—that’s an amazing thing.”

If you want to learn more about Jim Boisvert and Thos. Moser, visit their website.

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