About Al Swanson
This is a biography of Al Swanson and provides an overview of how he became a master craftsman.
Al Swanson, woodworking classes, handmade furniture, master craftsman
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About Al Swanson

Welcome to our studio. We take our profession and the work we create very seriously, and this is reflected in every piece that leaves our Helena, Montana bench – signed by me, by hand, with integrity.

I grew up on a small farm in Maine, surrounded by a beautiful forest and with a father who loved working with wood.  Watching my father create something extraordinary from a tree harvested from our land using his own two hands and a few tools left an impression on me and sparked a passion that continues to this day.

After studying business at the University of Maine and agronomy at Rutgers University, I decided to follow that passion I discovered as a boy.  I apprenticed under several elite cabinetmakers in Maine, mastering the craft of woodworking the way it has been done for generations.  In 2000, I packed up my hand tools and gave in to the lure of the wide open spaces of Montana, where I now make my home.

Today, I share the passion I discovered as a boy with the folks who buy my extensive collection of fine, hardwood furniture for home or office; who enjoy my line of wooden fly boxes, landing nets, and fly rod cases when they’re out on the river; or who join me in my shop to make something beautiful as I guide them in woodworking classes.

When I’m not in my studio creating something that will last for generations or sharing what I know with students, you’ll find me out on the river casting for trout, spending time with my son, and dreaming up the next big project to exceed my customer’s expectations.


I love going to work every day. The opportunity to create pieces that will be loved and used for generations is very meaningful to me. Sharing my passion for and knowledge of woodworking with folks who want to explore the craft is also very rewarding. To do both -- help students make something to take home that will be loved and used for decades -- is a rare gift. My signature accompanies each piece produced and at day’s end, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. To tap into my creative side and explore the nuances of a craft I love so much is beyond meaningful.

Before students take a class, they often say things like: ``I am an accident waiting to happen``. But at the end of the day, they echo my own sentiments and say things like: ``I cannot believe I made this with my own two hands, and now I get to take it home and enjoy it forever.``