Meet the Maker: Nick Allinson

By Sara Smith

When you look at a piece of wood, what do you see? Nick Allinson perceives more than just a chunk of maple or a slab of walnut—he sees form, function, and ultimately art. For the last two years, the Kingston woodworker has been busying himself making stunning charcuterie boards and bespoke home items from local lumber. We spoke with him to find out how he combines raw materials with talent, vision, and lots of elbow grease to create his sleek and beautiful signature pieces.

Allinson’s foray into the creative arts began early. “From a very young age, I was always into making things. I was always playing with Lego, egg cartons, and recycled plastic bottles,” he says. His passion for crafting things by hand went through many phases throughout his life.

“Fine woodworking is sort of the latest chapter,” says Allinson. “When I went to university I took woodworking, and I’ve been doing it now for about 6 years.”

Now with his own workshop in Kingston, Allinson spends his days skillfully crafting wooden home accessories and furniture. In addition to his signature charcuterie boards, “I’ve done countertops, dining tables, entranceway tables, desks, wine racks… it’s really an open book,” he says. Instead of simply churning out identical pieces, he prefers to meet with clients to discuss their vision in order to create something truly original. “They can come to me with any size or description or project they have in mind, and we work together to make it happen.”

Get to Know a Local Creator: Nick Allinson
One of Nick Allinson’s signature charcuterie board creations.
Photographer: @kerenzayuen via Instagram

Once a plan has been formulated, his creative process begins in a nearby town, where Allinson sources his high-quality materials.

“I go to a guy who mills wood in Mallorytown,” he says. “Then I’ll strap it to the roof of my little Volkswagen and take it to the shop. I take some time to measure and get to know the raw piece before I start working on it.”

Hours are spent cutting, planing, sanding, and rounding the item until he’s satisfied with it. “I just keep working it and working it, until I end up with an almost porcelain-smooth piece.” He describes the unpredictable nature of wood as part of the excitement of his work. “I love the challenge—wood is such a basic medium to use, but it’s also so complicated, and so varied. Every piece is unique and full of character,” he says.

Get to Know a Local Creator: Nick Allinson
Allinson hard at work on a new project.
Photographer: @kerenzayuen via Instagram

Finished pieces that aren’t for custom orders often go with him to Kingston maker markets and craft fairs. “Maker markets are the best way to meet new customers, and also to connect with other makers who connect you to other resources,” he says. “For example, I’ve met people who are metalsmiths, so I can source metal bases for a lot of my tables. It’s so great to be able to say ‘This entire table was made locally!’ instead of having to order parts from a website online from an unknown factory.”

Keeping his operation close to home is important to Allinson, who has lived in Kingston all his life. “I went to school in Toronto for a little while, but every time I came back home I just thought ‘This is so much better’,” he says. “It’s the perfect place to be. I love how locally-focused everything is, and it’s just such a beautiful city.”

Get to Know a Local Creator: Nick Allinson
More of Allinson’s stunning work can be seen at his website Photographer: @kerenzayuen via Instagram

In addition to contributing to Kingston’s creative community with his products, Allinson has plans to give back to his hometown through a new venture. “My partner Melissa Eapen (of the Kingston Collective and Improbable Escapes) and I are putting together membership-based woodshop here in town,” he says. “People will have a monthly membership, and get access to a full professional workshop, with knowledgeable technicians onsite to help them.” The shop will also offer classes on woodworking, installations, and other home projects. He explains that part of his motivation is to make woodworking more accessible and approachable to budding makers—regardless of gender, orientation, or level of experience.

“I know going to a workshop, where there are lots of guys who know more than you, can be intimidating,” he says. “So we will work hard to make sure it’s open to everyone.”

With this kind of space available to local makers and guidance from pros like Allinson, Kingston might soon become a city known for its phenomenal woodworkers.