Newell began woodcarving at age 8. After reading A Cabinetmaker's Notebook by James Krenov he made his first cabinets. Over the years he combined carving with furniture to develop his distinct style. Newell is a 1990 graduate of the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program where he studied under James Krenov.
After leaving the program Newell set up shop and worked alone in Chicago until 1997, when he moved to Atsugi, Japan outside of Tokyo to continue furniture making in a workshop he built on his wife's ancestral land.
In 2007 Newell and his family established a home/workshop in Fort Bragg, California where he continues to make furniture for the galleries and individual clients, while conducting workshops in
bending techniques and carving. Newell maintains his studio and home in Japan and hopes to lead tours to Japan's woodworking-related sites in the coming years.