Back Channel Staff

Dante DiIanni

Dante DiIanni has been in the woodworking business for over 20 years, as a finish carpenter, cabinet maker, tool maker/merchant, and owner of GNA Woodworks, a full service fine cabinet shop in McKees Rocks, PA. Beginning in 2003, Dante started offering limited woodworking classes to friends in the cabinet shop. Over time, the friends told their friends, until the classes outgrew the cabinet shop. In 2012, Dante moved the shop to the current location in a former fire station (of course in McKees Rocks) and the Back Channel School of Woodworking was born.

Ted Nelson

Ted started taking classes at the Back Channel School in 2010 when he was still in high school. Soon after, he worked with Dante over the summer to do whatever needed doing. After Ted graduated College, Dante called him up and had him come down, and he's been working here ever since.

Jordan Brudenell

Jordan joined the school at the start of 2018 after taking a few classes. He works in the office helping to keep things running smoothly, and doing things like building this website!

Guest Instructors

John Randazzo

John Randazzo has been woodworking professionally since 1976. He got his start working in various kitchen cabinet shops around Pittsburgh, then worked his way up to the high end veneered furniture he makes today.

John is also highly skilled in marquetry and inlay that adorns many of his pieces. He is a master in the use of the vacuum press that he uses to press all of his veneer work as well as some solid wood applications. John has won several awards for his skillfully crafted veneered furniture. John currently runs his own shop in the Apollo area.

Mark Mooney

Mark Mooney and his wife, Kathleen Allen a potter, run Ginkgo Studios in New Kensington, PA. Mark is a fine woodworker and furniture maker and produces unique pieces based on designs by Gustav, Leopold, and John G. Stickley, Harvey Ellis, Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Henry Greene, and Peter and John Hall. These traditional artisans represent Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, Mission, Prairie, and Greene and Greene styles.

Mark has studied with Seattle-based artist and craftsman Thomas Stangeland on Greene and Greene style furniture making at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking; Ben Little and Tom Harris, two Roycroft Master Artisans, on Craftsman style furniture making at their studio in East Aurora, NY; and Master Craftsman Jeffery Lohr on Mission Style furniture design at his studio in Pottstown PA. He has also taken basic and advanced woodworking classes from local artisans and master craftsmen, Max Peterson and Dante DiIanni. Mark is a member of the Pittsburgh Craftsman's Guild, Touchstone Center for Crafts, and the Western Pennsylvania Woodworkers where he also serves on the Board of Directors.

Mike Long

Michael Long is a self-taught cabinet maker.  He started his business in April of 1985 while attending college for mechanical engineering.   The original shop was in a one car garage. Today the shop occupies over 3000 square feet of production space.

Michael is self taught in CAD,  welding,  design,  manufacturing as well as an expert finisher.

Mike's work has been principally with high end residential clients.  His work has been published in "Pittsburgher Magazine".

Craig Smith

Craig aspires to be a bit of a Renaissance Man.  A graduate in Industrial Engineering from Penn State, he has worked for a number of years in the fields of medical equipment, product testing, and project management.   He is an avid wood turner as well as an avid amateur astronomer and astrophotographer.

Craig currently owns a  one man shop in his home, No Wood Unturned, which specializes in one of a kind items – both architectural and decorative.

Craig has studied Windsor Chairmaking with Mike Dunbar and Curtis Buchanan, and has taught several chairmaking classes in the Pittsburgh area since 2001.  Probably no other area of woodworking brings together an exposure to such a wide selection of skills as Windsor Chairmaking.  For this reason, and really for the sheer beauty and engineering excellence of a Windsor Chair, it is one of Craig’s favorite projects.

Jon Holmes

Jon Holmes spent nine years as wood pattern and model maker before studying furniture making with James Krenov at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program in 1998-2000. He is currently director of the School of Architecture's woodshop at Carnegie Mellon University.

Danny Williams

Danny Williams befriended a master builder of Appalachian dulcimers in the early 70s, apprenticed with him, and began building them on his own. This drew him deeper into West Virginia and regional culture and history, and led to work as an archivist, documentarian, writer, editor, and teacher. On a whim, he built his first cigar box guitar in 2015. Since then, he has put strings on a variety of hollow objects, including gourds, toolboxes, and coconuts, and has figured out how to adapt the CBG to almost any size or shape.

Don Phillips

Engaged in cutting timber, sawing and drying domestic dimensional and live edge specialty lumber since 1999. Established "Don's Custom Milling" in 2003 offering retail lumber sales, sawmill and kiln services. Attended NHLA lumber grading "short course" with certificate of completion. Member of Western Pennsylvania Woodworkers Club for 10 years. Currently selling retail hardwood lumber and used woodworking equipment in Dunbar, Pa.