As trees on his Shippen Creek property fell prey to insect damage and natural weather-related thinning, Roy A. Mears began to think of practical ways to use the wood. He bought a sawmill and started milling logs into lumber for buildings, trailer beds and fences. As the years passed, the beauty of the felled cherry and walnut trees, as well as the pines and oaks, grew more defined. At that point, Roy began to consider more elegant applications for the decorative pieces of wood.
In his wood shop today, Roy makes a wide variety of handcrafted products such as butcher blocks, cutting boards, bowls, beds and tables of all shapes and sizes. Each piece is made from local hardwoods and, in most cases, comes from the reclaimed trees that have fallen in the woods and along the shores of Shippen Creek.
What’s In A Name?
Shippen Creek is a tributary of the Chester River in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Roy A. Mears, founder of Shippen Creek Fine Wood Works, has called the creek home for more than thirty years. Like other creeks and tributaries along the Chester River, Shippen Creek got its name from local watermen who for generations worked the waterways harvesting crabs, fish and the “Jewel of the Chesapeake”: the oyster. After hours of work on the water, boats would head up to Shippen Creek to take shelter from wind and weather and to offload their catch onto mule-drawn carts and wagons.
After the carts were loaded with the day’s catch, they made their way to market through dense forest that included white and red oaks, hickory, cherry, maple and loblolly pines, among others. Sadly, the days of watermen sailing into Shippen Creek and hauling their fresh catch to market are long gone. But from time to time, the modern-day waterman still seeks refuge from storms in the calm waters of Shippen Creek. As before, the creek remains surrounded by the same old timber stands that inspired Roy to create Shippen Creek Fine Wood Works.
About Roy A. Mears
Roy lives on the shore of Shippen Creek, and for years he has fished its waters and hunted in the woods that surrounds it. It is on Shippen Creek on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that Roy built the home where he and his wife Molly raised three sons. According to an old tax map, the house sits on the site where two log homes stood in 1877.
For more than two decades, Roy has owned his own business – working as a high-end custom homebuilder and general contractor. Notably, he is known locally as one of the region’s foremost environmentally conscious, or green, builders.
Oftentimes, as a housewarming gift, Roy took cherry or walnut scraps from a jobsite to build a table, turn a bowl, or make a bench. The idea of recycling the wood pleased him as much as the crafts he made for family and friends. That interest sparked a passion and gave rise to what is now Shippen Creek Fine Wood Works.