Our Story

3 Generations of Woodcraft

Who We Are

Jen and I (Melissa) are beyond thrilled to be the 3rd Generation owners of Smead Woodcraft. What started off as a playful conversation about how great it would be to have "Donnie's life", has turned into reality. 

Melissa was born and raised in southern Vermont, graduating from Bellows Falls Union High School. She went to Maine for college and started her career with the American Cancer Society.  Work and personal life brought her to Massachusetts, where she met her wife, Jen.

Up until our move to Vermont, Jen was a life-long resident of Massachusetts, where she raised her daughter (and my bonus daughter), Meg.  Jen worked corporate logistics for TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods up until April of 2023, when she left to focus on Smead Woodcraft full time. Meg is currently attending Hofstra University in New York, studying forensic science and working summers at Shaw's in Ludlow.

The 3rd Generation

Our daydream transitioned into reality after a brief conversation with Don at Meg's high school graduation party.  We started to learn the business, spending time with Don as he shared the ins and outs of Smead Woodcraft. For two years, we've absorbed a ton of tips and tricks from Don's 55 years of experience. The best part of this deal is that though Don is retired from the day to day work, he's the best consultant we could ever ask for.

Don has been by our side, cheering us on every step of the way.  In addition to continuing to do the majority of the bandsaw work for the shop, he is always happy to answer the 1,000s of questions we have via text or phone call. He continues to bring in sales for us wherever he goes, sending orders and leads our way, and is our biggest champion when we post videos and photos to social media.

We are so excited for this new chapter, thankful to Don for his support, and grateful for the opportunity to be back home, in Vermont, carrying on the family tradition started in 1954.

Humble Beginnings

The history of Smead Woodcraft is one of my favorite stories. Born and raised in Vermont, my great-uncle Hugh Smead served his country in World War II. A year after returning home, he married my great-aunt Laurea in 1947 and they began their life together in Putney, Vermont and started raising their family.  By 1953, they had two small children - four-year-old Jean, one-year old Steve - with their third child, Don, on the way.  

In 1953, Uncle Hugh started having leg pains and after lengthy testing, it was determined that he had polio.  After nearly a year in the hospital,  Uncle Hugh came home without the use of his legs.  Worried about how he was going to support his young family, he wheeled himself into his hobby shop behind the family home and started making cutting boards and other small wooden items to sell.  Smead Craft Shop was born! With Hugh being the craftsman, it was up to his wife Laurea to sell the handcrafted goods to establishments across the Putney area.

When  interviewed by Vermont Public Radio, Aunt Laurea shared that she was shy and "scared to death", but she loaded up the station wagon and off she went, selling the items to local shops wholesale. I can tell you I almost fell off my chair when I read that interview. Aunt Laurea was one of the most people loving individuals I have ever met!

Becoming Smead Woodcraft

Building Smead Craft Works was a family affair. Growing up Jean, Steve, and Don all helped out wherever they could, including making deliveries and keeping the shop clean. Their church family helped put in a series of ramps so Uncle Hugh could move from home to shop easily, and every station in the shop was wheelchair accessible.

After 30 years, Steve and Don took over the family business, becoming the 2nd generation to deliver a quality, handcrafted product to country stores in Vermont and across New England.  Uncle Hugh and Aunt Laurea "retired", though he would still help out in the shop.  In addition to outlining the normal sale conditions, the sales contract also included personal items such as working with integrity, mowing, and that Aunt Laurea could still use the delivery van to take their 6 grandkids to Spofford Lake once a week in the summer.

Steve and Don renamed the business Smead Woodcraft, keeping the business in the growing structure behind the home they grew up in. The shop was in operation Monday through Thursday, 7am to 5pm, selling various shaped cutting boards, recipe holders, crayon holders, knife blocks, key-shaped key holders, and decoupage boards. 


In 2003, Don became sole proprietor of Smead Woodcraft, continuing on the family legacy in the expanded four room workshop located on the property.  As the handcrafted products grew in popularity, the expansion allowed more diverse products lines including a paint shop for screen printing.  The configuration was perfect for the Smead's as it allowed Don the opportunity to check in on his aging parents and Uncle Hugh the ability to still easily visit the shop.  

In 2005, Uncle Hugh died peacefully at home, and Aunt Laurea, his bride of 58 years, passed away 8 years later in 2013. 

In 2007, Smead Woodcraft was selected to contribute 600 maple cutting boards to showcase the craftsmanship of the State of Vermont. The boards were included in the commemorative package that was sent to Washington, DC , along with Vermont made cheeses and maple syrup as part of the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

In 2016, fire broke out in the shop, and spread quickly to all 4 buildings. The incredible local firefighters saved the house, but unfortunately, the shop and all of it's contents were lost.  Don had the choice to move on or rebuild. 

Thanks to a great support system in the community that he had supported for years, Don was able to restructure the business and start over, rebuilding a one room shop and replacing most of his equipment. Instead of buying everything new, Don used his resources to locate vintage equipment that was similar to the pieces he lost. The one piece that was hard to find was a bandsaw, the heart of any woodcraft shop. Fortunately, Steve had their dad's original 1954 bandsaw on his property, and he contributed it to the rebuilding of the legacy.  As with any craft business, there are many components and templates that are critical to the production of goods. Ever the salesman, Don had almost a full set of boards in his trunk, never knowing when an opportunity for a new customer might come along. Using these boards, he was able to recreate many of the templates destroyed by the fire and the boards that he didn't have he was able borrow from family and friends. 

The Future

Looking ahead, we plan to expand our wholesale options to more of New England by adding Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island boards to our product line. This website and social media will help with that. Technology has a place in the crafts as a means to bring those crafts to people further from home.

The custom work that Smead Woodcraft has always done will continue, adding more custom wood products to our footprint. Regardless of how far we reach, our legacy boards will remain our bread and butter.

News Articles

Fire at Smead Woodcraft  - Manchester Journal, 2016

Smead Woodcraft Goes to Washington, DC - Brattleboro Reformer, 2007

50 Years of Smead Woodcraft - Vermont Public Radio interview, 2004