Mid-Shore Craftsmanship: McMartin & Beggins on Making Historical Furniture


My village of Wittman has a variety of creative residents-Grammy award-winning authors, artists and the furniture makers of McMartin & Beggins. Both partners are named Jim, both began their careers as boat builders, and both artisans have a passion and respect for wood.

Every piece is created with benchcrafted techniques out of locally sourced wood. Their work ranges from transforming part of the famous Wye Oak tree into a desk and podium for the Governor of Maryland to furniture restoration for historic houses to contemporary designs.

Jim McMartin moved to St. Michaels from Annapolis and opened a furniture making shop in the Mill Complex. When Jim Beggins arrived in St. Michaels by boat, fate led him to Jim McMartin. After working together for several years, they became partners. They complement each other beautifully and work seamlessly on every project. Jim McMartin’s artistic talent is illustrated by his meticulous drawings of each piece of furniture made in the shop. Jim Beggins’ analytical style and attention to detail ensure quality control. Their favorite period for furniture is the Federal (1790-1830), with its clean, classic lines and delicate forms that highlight the beauty of the wood. Pieces in their showroom would be right at home in any museum period room.

Their 4,500 square foot complex houses a showroom, office/reference library, workshop and storage sheds where slabs of local wood species such as cherry, maple, syrup poplar, red cedar, walnut and white oak rest on spacers awaiting their turn for a new life in the hands of these master craftsmen. The logs are milled on site and are carefully stacked on spacers to dry slowly. The “stacks” are a reference library so Jim or Jim can find the right slab with the wood grain needed for a particular design. In their workshop you will find both modern machinery as well as the same period tools that Hepplewhite or Sheraton would have used years ago. Just like those famous forebears,

McMartin & Beggins work by hand meticulously and slowly on pieces made to order that will become heirlooms.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about McMartin and Beggins, please go here

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

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