The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 9, 2014

Woodworker has eyes on the future

ENID, Okla. — Joe Lamerton’s narrowed blue eyes held their forward gaze as the Enid woodworker pushed another wooden board into the table saw.

The saw spun so fast, it looked as if it weren’t moving at all. A massive vacuum, connected to the steel table, howled away over the saw’s sharp  “vroom” that echoed through Lamerton’s shop.

He scooted the timber, a black walnut leg for a sideboard, forward into the blade’s path. His hands made one slow motion as it lost about a quarter inch along its width.

With a casual yet careful flick of his finger, he pushed the piece off the blade, picked it up and tossed it into the bin.

Then, it was onto the next leg for the 23-year-old owner of Jos. Lamerton Woodworking LLC.

***

With about three years left in the space provided by the James W. Strate Center for Business Development, Lamerton only can look forward. That’s so long as he has a defined business plan and ongoing projects to keep making money.

Lamerton is transitioning from mainly commission jobs to his own product line. He uses solid wood construction with Old World joinery methods such as handcut dovetail and through wedged tenon to produce high-end custom furniture. He acquired LLC certification in January.

His next immediate goal is finding a suitable retail front location to sell his own products. Once he finds it, he’ll move out.

“It will be a kind of a cool environment because people will be able to watch the shop from the storefront, and that kind of creates a unique buying experience, especially here in Enid,” Lamerton said. “They can see a piece from start to finish.”

Lamerton does all his own designing, building, planing, finishing, marketing and money-managing. When he’s not building a project, he’s attending crafts shows or working on a future design.

“I’m always looking at the next project rather than the one I just finished,” the Perry native said Friday in his shop, at 2020 Willow Run, behind Autry Tech Center.

Lamerton moved into the building around October, after winning third place in a business grant competition with the James W. Strate Center for Business Development.

“I’m here all the time. I come into the shop and I start making,” he said, his affable voice echoing through the 2,000-square-foot room.

The shop is practically sawdust-free, in no small part due to the industrial vacuum. The smell is faint, too.

Against several walls sit dozens of sawed hardwood boards like the ones he trimmed and planed earlier, waiting to be further cut and finished. On a tarp mat lie two (literally) unfinished black walnut side tables, one missing a tabletop.

Along with those tables, he’s working on a rocker, a low back chair and a sideboard, its pieces sawed from a client’s provided Oklahoma black walnut log. He also recently designed a concept for a poker table.

Lamerton’s pieces, which cost a minimum $1,000 for commission price, have included a roll top bar cabinet, a hand-carved barley twist sofa table, an armless love seat and a Spanish farm dining table. His bar stools and side tables cost less, between $400-600, according to his website, enidwoodworking.com. Lamerton offers both economy (budget-based) and deluxe (commission-based) packages.

Lamerton will add a larger inventory of products in the coming months to the website, he said.

***

Lamerton got his start in his sophomore woodshop class at Perry High School — “I had an excellent teacher, Jeff Zagar,” he was quick to say. His first commission offer soon followed.

After graduating in 2008, he attended OSU for mechanical engineering, but left after three years. He found the computer work disinterested him.

“I kept sneaking off rather than studying and building stuff. I guess it’s just where my heart was,” he said.

But Lamerton’s earliest memory of his passion comes from childhood.

“I remember running around my parents’ house when they were remodeling, with my little hammer and nails, looking up at all the men with tool belts,” he said.

Lamerton draws his design inspiration from late craftsman Sam Maloof, renowned among woodworking enthusiasts and professionals alike for his signature walnut Rocker #60. He once was described by the Smithsonian Institute as “America’s most contemporary furniture craftsman.”

The skill level Maloof employed in his designs took the craft to another level, Lamerton said. While many woodworkers are hobbyists, the craft requires an incredible amount of knowledge of geometry, carpentry and design.

“Not any woodworker can say, ‘Hey, look at that, I’m gonna build that,’” he said.

Thus, Lamerton lets the quality of his work speak for itself.

He recently completed a barley twist bassinet, which doubles as a rounded cage cradle, locked into place by wooden pins on the sides and bottom of the basket. He’s quick to show photos of it on his website and Facebook page.

He finished the project three months ago, after spending more than 100 hours on its design and building from start to finish. The bassinet costs $10,000 on his website.

“I want to build the best thing I can build,” he said.

And with that, he soon got back to work, his eyes narrowing again, this time at the computer.

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Enid News & Eagle photos taken throughout February 2014. Enjoy full-access all ENE photos at http://enidnews.smugmug.com