Paul Mccarthy woodcarving

The man. The myth. The legendary woodcarver from Nantucket.

a lifetime of art

Paul McCarthy Wood Carving, specializes in eagles, signs, quarterboards, and architectural carvings. A true master at his craft, now carving for over 53 years. He opened his first carving shop in Scituate Harbor in 1969. Inspired by his high school shop teacher, Robert Burgess, Paul carved his first eagle in 1957. The innovation of hand carving the letters & scenes into Traditional Early American Tavern Signs has been a popular addition to his sign carvings and can be seen on many homes & signposts throughout Scituate, Nantucket & New England. His accomplishments as a woodcarver have earned him national recognition & articles in Fine Woodworking, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics & the Signs of the Times. Other accomplishments include: Signage for movie “Witches of Eastwick”

The authority on handcarved signs 

Paul McCarthy has published two best selling woodcarving books for beginning carver’s “Woodcarving Illustrated” and “Woodcarving Illustrated II” which he illustrated as he carved. He has been a teacher for over 30 years with as many as 60 students a week at times. Paul became the in-house woodcarver at the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Boston while his oldest son ran his shop in Scituate. When asked by one of his former apprentices, Billy Rowe, to become the woodcarver at Nantucket Woodcarving in 1992, Paul handed over his shop to his son, Michael McCarthy, now named Yankee Woodcarvers.
During the 11 years of its existence, then on his own till 2006 Paul McCarthy has been responsible for many of the beautiful signs visitors see today. Some of those are The Atlantic Cafe, The Pearl, Nantucket Town Seals, Sconset Cafe, Rose & Crown, Museum Gift Shop, Nantucket Sleigh Ride, Jared Coffin House, Nantucket Chamber of Commerce and many more.

A few highlights from a decades-long career


quarterboards +
Quarterboard Ends

In 1815 maritime law made it a requisite that every ship have its name affixed to its stern. The law also required that name boards or quarterboards be placed on the ships’ bows or quarter panel. The figurehead carver was often called upon to provide them. The result has been a collection of such quarter boards which shows the endless variety of decorative carvings at the board-ends as well as the carefully incised letter on the boards themselves, many of which were carefully cut and filled with gold leaf so as to show the name clearly at some distance.
“Figureheads & Ship Carvings” at Mystic Seaport by Edouard A. Stackpole

C0mmercial signage

Just take a short stroll on Nantucket and you’ll see several signs handcarved by Paul McCarthy. Here are just a few…

house numbers, Restoration, carving, whales, eagles, specialty projects and more…

Contact paul

Paul McCarthy Wood Carving is available for custom signs and small projects. 

Contact him at  or click the button below to send him a request.