Milton’s Mark Carter has carved his niche from hobbyist to entrepreneur — and his creations made from wood are seemingly endless.
Written by Alison Pappas | Photography by Pamela Aquilani
The Eastern Shore has a way of drawing back those who leave. For Mark Carter, who grew up on a farm in Milford, the decision to return to the area — after attending the Virginia Military Institute and serving nine years as an officer in the U.S. Marines — was rooted in the spirit of family.
“My partner, Sara, and I were looking forward to growing a family. I thought it was time to consider changing careers, to do something less dangerous,” said Mark. “This area was a great place to grow up, so I knew it would be a great place to raise kids.” Around that time, his older brother passed away from a heart condition, so Mark wanted to be near family as well.
Once back, Mark began giving ecotours across Cape Henlopen, through his brother Matthew’s company, Quest Adventures. While he enjoyed the opportunity to connect with nature, the off-season was slow, so he searched for a side gig. Mark wound up at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, where he was hired full-time to oversee the brewery’s events. Fourteen years later, he is the company’s Beer & Benevolence director. He still manages events but also focuses on the brewery’s significant philanthropic initiatives by collaborating with local nonprofits and leading community relations.
“My role is not so much marketing but more like, ‘Okay, there’s a town park. How do we help make that grow?’” said Mark, adding that his time as a public affairs officer in the Marines translated well to his community work at Dogfish Head.
SKY’S THE LIMIT It would seem perfectly logical for Mark Carter’s natural woodworking ability to grow into a business, since it appears he can make almost anything out of wood.
Mark’s interest in woodworking was sparked by a lifelong desire to sail. He came across an Annapolis-based company called Chesapeake Light Craft, which specializes in making boatbuilding plans, kits, supplies and gears. Through working with the company and learning the foundations of woodworking, he discovered he had a genuine aptitude for the craft.
Today, Mark’s portfolio boasts a wide range of exquisite wood-based pieces, such as beer totes, cutting boards and more. He independently hand-builds each piece in his farm-based studio, and everything is both purposeful and complementary to nature’s intrinsic splendor.
Mark’s hobby has since blossomed into a successful side business called 7 Hands Wood Craft. The name is derived from a project during which Sara’s family of seven and Mark worked together to build a chicken coup.
Mark has recently showcased his work in two artisan shows, during which he sold out of just about every item he brought while receiving numerous requests for new commissions.
Check out Mark’s craftsmanship on his Instagram page, @7handswoodcraft. CS