Half Blind Dovetails
About Me
I live and and work in Madison, Wisconsin. I became a full-time furniture maker in late 2005 after working 10 years as a Mechanical Engineer in Madison. Largely self-taught, my interest in woodworking began after college when I needed two very important things: a bed to sleep on and a place to store my CDs. A lot of screws, out-of-square joints, and swearing accompanied the creation of those first projects, but the woodworking bug had stung me. Soon after came a little side table, many small boxes, and other odd projects suited to small-apartment woodworking. Hobby became all-consuming passion after a friend introduced me to the James Krenov books and I dove into making my own hand plane. What a revelation! After those first whisper-thin shavings came curling out of the plane I had made with my own hands, I knew this woodworking thing was my true calling...

inlay with plane and shavings

My work is handcrafted using joinery and materials that have been shown to stand the test of time. I use hand tools extensively in my work -- hand planes, spokeshaves, scrapers, etc. -- and I truly believe this makes a difference in the look and feel of my work. My points of reference for inspiration -- Shaker, Scandinavian, and Japanese furniture of the past -- feature clean, simple lines and shapes. I often will use subtle decorative elements such as contrasting wood beading and inlays, but mainly I just try to create pleasing forms that are enhanced by the beauty of wood.

The Process - 'How do I go about ordering something from you?'

As a custom furniture maker, I work with you to design and create furniture that fulfills your needs and wishes. Perhaps this means a piece just like you see on my website or maybe it means a variation on a theme - i.e., same design but using a different species of wood or in different dimensions. Or it might be that you’re after something different altogether - a custom table, bed, or cabinet, for instance. In any case, I would be more than happy to explore the options with you.

Regardless of the project, I start by gathering as much information from you as you can provide about the intended function and desired aesthetics, etc., and then I provide a sketch or drawing along with an estimate of price. From there, if agreeable to the design and price, I require a deposit of 40% of the final price. This deposit establishes your place in my project queue and allows me to purchase materials, finalize the design, etc. Balance is due upon completion and before delivery.

(608) 556-5970
info AT josephmurphy DOT net

Exhibitions, Awards, & Affiliations
2008 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Awarded the Wharton Esherick Museum Prize for Excellence in Wood
2009 MADE - Architectural Digest Home Design Show. NYC
2009 Awarded an education grant from the Furniture Society to study at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine
2011 Art Fair on the Square, Madison, WI
2012 Urban(wood) Encounter, Milwaukee, WI. Awarded First Place for Brooklyn Bench

Press / Publications
- Annapolis furniture maker melds form and functionality. The Capital 11/23/08
- Joseph Murphy: Custom Furniture Maker ApartmentTherapy.com 3/30/09
- "Studio Furniture: Today's Leading Woodworkers" Schiffer Books, June 2009. Available from the publisher here and elsewhere.
- The Guild Sourcebook of Art Edition 24, Fall 2009.

I have a slideshow of my work, shop pics, sketches, etc at YouTube. Check it out here.

Visit me on Facebook and elsewhere:



Furniture Society link