Nathan Harkins sits among his handmade cutting boards. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATHAN HARKINS

Carpenter turns resolution into side business

A custom cribbage board made by Nathan Harkins. Although he has made hundreds of boards, Harkins says no two are alike.

TREMONT — Nathan Harkins made a resolution six years ago to do woodworking in his spare time, and he hasn’t stopped since. 

“I’ve been in the construction business with my father since 2000 and got into doing fine design work on the side, which piqued my interest a little more than just the regular day-to-day stuff,” Harkins said. 

The carpenter decided to make cutting boards after work to sell and to give as gifts. The success he had with his cutting boards inspired him to expand his skills by also making custom cribbage boards, furniture, wall decor, jewelry boxes, cheese boards, butcher blocks, kitchen island tops, gun cases and more. 

Harkins went on to sell his work at craft fairs. “In the past, I spent a lot of time making things to sell, but I have a pretty busy life and nowadays I just make things upon request,” Harkins said. The craftsman turns his pieces out at his own pace unless he has a time-sensitive order from a customer. “I don’t like to be rushed. I like to take my time and turn out quality work,” Harkins said. 

Though some items are made with the same shade of wood, Harkin prefers pieces with different shades, often using a variety of wood species that are uniquely formatted to create a three-dimensional look. 

Most of his creations that will be used for food prep get coated with a mineral oil and beeswax mixture. His more artistic work, such as his wall decor and gun cases, get chalk painted as a final step. 

Harkins chooses different types of wood to make gun cases that feature the 13-star Betsy Ross flag design. “I haven’t made any flags with 50 stars because 13 stars are easier to place,” Harkins said. “I also include concealed RIFD locks in the cases so the homeowner can open it with a card or an app on their phone.” 

For his custom cribbage boards, Harkins plots even spaces for peg holes with a compass and then hand drills them. 

“I’ve made hundreds of cutting boards, but I’ve never made the same one,” he said.  

Harkins’ work can be viewed on his Facebook page, Hardwoods By Harkins, or through the Instagram handle @backsidewood. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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