Meet Woodworker Mark Schwindenhammer

October 4, 2021

After leaving NYC and settling into rural living, a newly minted woodworker finds fulfillment—and overnight success.

Text by Erika Ayn Finch

Mark Schwindenhammer

By now we have all heard about the Great Resignation, but Mark Schwindenhammer’s about-face still stands out. The Illinois native began his professional career in interior design, but he pivoted to event management, and for the next seven years planned weddings and bar mitzvahs in New York City. When the pandemic struck, Schwindenhammer’s job vanished, and he and his partner, brand-marketer-turned-ceramicist Justin Reis, decamped to their weekend home in the tiny hamlet of Hampton.

Looking for a way to occupy idle hands, Schwindenhammer found a small Rhode Island lumberyard specializing in exotic woods and, working out of the barn on his three-acre property, crafted a cutting board for himself. He posted it on Instagram in August 2020, and The Shop at 289 ½, a nod to the barn’s address, was born. The day we spoke, Schwindenhammer was on his way home from Boston, where he had delivered custom charcuterie boards that would double as wedding favors.

Schwindenhammer crafts his boards from woods such as black walnut (his favorite), ash, Brazilian cherry, padauk, and purple heart, among others. Some boards are reversible with a bold pattern on one side and a simpler design on the other, but all are made to be used—daily. “The beauty in these pieces is the wear, the knife marks, the life behind the knife marks and the stains,” says the craftsman. “The boards aren’t meant to be showpieces. They are meant to be
used.”

The Shop at 289 ½, Hampton, 289andahalf.com