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MADE ON ISLAND

Chappaquiddick Wood Company
Zach Pinerio Gives Fallen Trees New Life

By Tessa Permar

“Everybody has a salad bowl story,” remarks Zach Pinerio, founder of Chappaquiddick Wood Company. “If you’re buying a salad bowl from me that’s from your backyard, or from an Island town that you have a connection to, you’re going to tell that story over and over again.” And like the local trees from which they are built, Pinerio’s exquisite bowls, boards, and servers are built to hold to carry those stories for generations.

Zach, who grew up in New York State, first connected with the land and the trees of Martha’s Vineyard while summering on Chappaquiddick as a kid. After attending college in Vermont, for about eight years he worked as a carpenter before apprenticing with a cabinet-maker, and eventually a bowl-maker. When a caretaking opportunity emerged on Chappaquiddick in 2015, he moved to the Island. His workshop, a shipping container, came with him. And what began as a creative side gig has grown into a flourishing business.

Zach doesn’t cut down trees. Instead he works with arborists who have equipment for clearing already-fallen trees. They bring him primarily hardwoods like maple and white ash, which are less likely to crack. His first step is milling the trees into thick slabs. He then makes a rough cut, maintaining thickness that is critical for the next step: drying. Zach has four kilns that run year round. “Most of my winter is spent milling and keeping the kilns as full as I can,” he explains. “It’s a long term process. All of the bowls have at least a two month leave time [in the kilns]. I’m working on stuff in November, December, January that won’t be finished until the summer months.”

Zach uses a wood lathe to shape and carve the bowls. The lathe spins the rough blanks and he uses a steal bowl gouge to shape the outside. He cores the inside using a special coring attachment that allows him to make two or three bowls out of one single large blank. The coring tool combined with the use of a vacuum chuck to finish turning the bowls is what separates him from anyone making bowls as a hobby. No one on the Island is milling and kiln drying Island trees. If the bowls aren’t dried properly they will definitely crack at some point down the road. The drying process is what separates him from anyone else making wood products from Island wood.

Zach produces bowls, cutting boards, servers, and coasters. He coats them with hypoallergenic and food-safe walnut oil. He believes, “the best thing for the bowl is just to use it.” But he provides a jar of walnut oil with each piece for a post-wash coat at home.

Pinerio exudes respect and admiration for the wood he works with. He reflects: “I like to—maybe like everyone out here—sort of pull from the things that are around you.” Including a creative use for squid ink, which, when mixed with epoxy, fills small holes and knots in the wood, creating artful and unique shapes.

You can see and order Zach work on his website. Find them at the Artisans Festival in West Tisbury, The Chilmark Gallery, Rosewater or Nell in Edgartown. If you have a valued tree in your yard that’s coming down, ask Zach to make you something equally precious, personal, and resilient. “As long as they’re taken care of, not only will my bowls last longer than me, but generations of people will have them, be able to use them, and be able to tell that same narrative.”

Find out more about Chappaquiddick Wood Company at: chappaquiddickwoodcompany.com
e-mail: chappaquiddickwoodcompany@gmail.com