New Member Profile: Meet Ray Finan, Vermont Furniture Maker…and Forest Firefighter

The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers is proud to welcome Ray Finan as a new master member.

Ray has always been a hands-on guy. As a teenager, he blended his love of working with his hands with a curious mind and natural creativity by working on cars. This foreshadowed the passion he would eventually develop for woodworking and furniture making.

Ray has been a professional woodworker for five years, but has been making furniture for 10 years. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to become the master craftsman he is today. “I began woodworking by doing home renovations,” Finan said. “My first piece of furniture was a bedside table that I saw in a book from ’The New Yankee Workshop’…it didn’t come out well!”

Although his initial piece, born of necessity, didn’t turn out as envisioned, it did ignite a flame that would drive him to earn Master Furniture Maker honors. In creating this first piece, Ray found the ideal way to combine his interests and talents. He continued with his passion until he took a sabbatical from his job to attend the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine.

Email 3 pic 2 The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Now, armed with education and experience, Ray has his own shop in Arlington, Vermont, where his pragmatism and artistry come together in each of his one-of-a-kind pieces. “My work combines traditional joinery and hand-applied finishes that highlight the beauty of the wood. Each piece combines creativity, craftsmanship and functionality.” The pieces also showcase Ray’s enjoyment of mid-century modern design and the Art Deco style.

Email 2 pic 2 Ray Finan’s shop in Arlington

Email 2 pic 4 Inside the shop.

When you talk to Ray about his work and his passion one thing stands out above all: His love for collaboration with his customers. Ray sees the furniture-making process as a team effort. “I enjoy the collaborative design process with my customers so that they feel they have had a hand in bringing their vision into reality.”

After an initial introduction with Ray, he will visit and measure your space, and he’ll be prepared with sample sketches and research in tow. Then, you’ll discuss the purpose of the piece with him before working out the finer details of wood, materials and so on.

Email 1 pic 3 A modern 6’+ X 4’ cherry and maple display case designed in collaboration with a client to compliment a stone fireplace and built-in wall unit already present.

Once the design is finalized the materials are then sourced. Ray says: “When possible, I try to select local, native woods, and source my materials from responsible suppliers. I use water-borne or oil finishes that are hand-applied and have low VOCs.”

Once he gets final approval, he starts working on that piece, and continues with just that pieec until it’s done. “I design and build each piece of furniture one at a time in my studio… from concept to completion,” he says. Throughout the process, Ray sends images of the material selection and furniture creation process, giving the customer a behind-the-scenes look at their furniture item coming to life.

Email 2 pic 3 A work in progress.

Email 1 pic 1 The final product.

But, when he finishes, Ray doesn’t send a picture of the final product. No. As soon as it’s done, he delivers it personally to the customer for the big reveal, so it can be seen in its intended space right away.

Unique pieces are a hallmark of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, and Ray Finan is no exception. Take a look at this very nifty door he made for a customer looking for something truly unique.

Email 3 pic 1

This is “a ‘sugar tapped’ maple door,” Ray says. “…the tap holes from years of maple sugaring letting light filter through in little rays!” An absolutely one-of-a-kind piece.

In the future, Ray would love to do some larger-scale work. He says, “…it would be nice to do an entire room or even an entire house full of my work.”

When not making furniture, Ray can be found on the mountain skiing, fly fishing, or doing wildland firefighting with the US Forest Service. No big deal.

Email 3 pic 3 Only you and Ray can fight forest fires, but Ray’s a little better at it.

Ray can be contacted at Raymond.finan@yahoo.com or by phone 802-681-5393 to discuss a piece for your home or schedule a tour by appointment. Website: HTTP://www.finanstudio.com

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