ROUSES POINT — Wooden it be nice to work in a field you love.
Scott Bleau started Northeastern Woodworking about 2 1/2 years ago after he lost his job as a research/regulatory auditor when Pfizer closed its Chazy research facility. That provided the impetus to start a business based on his love of working with wood.
He has about 15 years experience building cabinetry and furniture, which he did in his spare time prior to starting the business.
”I’ve always had a passion for woodworking,” he said. “I picked up some more equipment and jumped right into it.”
It started when he bought a house on Stewart Street in Rouses Point, as he watched and worked with his father-in-law, Clifford Ashline.
”He was a very skilled craftsman and carpenter,” Bleau said.
He said his grandfather, Marcel Bechard, was also a big influence in his development as a woodworker.
The kitchen in his present home was the second complete kitchen he designed and built. The design features white oak cabinets with black walnut accents.
Bleau said he built them from kiln-dried rough-cut lumber he bought at Adirondack Hardwoods in Saranac.
The initial focus was on furniture, but he has shifted the emphasis to custom kitchens and cabinets.
”There’s not as much demand for furniture,” he said.
He has designed and built seven complete kitchens, as well as numerous smaller projects.
”Everything I’ve done is custom-made to order,” Bleau said. “I really enjoy designing and building a kitchen.”
He was recently awarded a $35,000 Microenterprise Program grant through the Village of Rouses Point, funding obtained through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. He said that funding will help him expand the business in a number of ways.
One is to open a storefront display in downtown Rouses Point this spring to make examples of his work more visible. Bleau also plans to carry a couple lines of custom cabinetry for people who don’t want to wait to have something custom made.
Bleau also will offer kitchen-cabinet refacing. A customer will be able to replace cabinet faces, doors, drawers and frames. That service is starting to become more and more popular around the country, he said.
The funds will also help him buy a computer numerically controlled router.
”That will allow me to do things more efficiently,” Bleau said. “It will help me take things to the next level.”
Bleau said he expects to hire one full-time or two part-time employees once the grant money is received.
”With the workload I have now, I could use a person. It would allow me to take on more projects than I have been able to do so far,” he said.
The grant program includes entrepreneurship training conducted by Jim Murphy of the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation. Bleau recently attended the first class and will receive the grant funds after he completes 30 hours of study.
”I think it’s going to be really helpful,” he said.
Bleau works from a shop attached to his home, located at 27 Ryan St. in Rouses Point. He said his favorite piece of equipment is a J.A. Fay and Egan 16-inch jointer made in Cincinnati in 1932.
it is one of several pieces of equipment he acquired from Glenn Miller, the owner of Aloof Doors in Keeseville.
His dual-drum sander is another key piece of equipment. The first drum has coarse sandpaper, the second has finer sandpaper.
Bleau said he still has to do a final pass with a hand-held orbit sander, but the machine saves him work that used to take several days by hand.
“Time is money,” he said. “I still keep the quality high, but do it a little quicker.”
The dust-collection system captures about 95 percent of the sawdust created in manufacturing. Additional ceiling mounted filters capture pieces down to about two microns.
For more information or to see examples of Bleau’s work, visit www.northeasternwoodworking.com, the Northeastern Woodworking Facebook page, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-8873.
Email Dan Heath: email@example.com