Tunkhannock resident builds business from woodworking hobby

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TUNKHANNOCK — When Dennis Eaton’s 35-year tenure at Dallas’ Offset Paperback Manufacturers ended in a 2009 layoff, he “did the collecting and sending out of résumés and all that,” but his wife, Nancy, recalled a different version of Dennis’ post-pink slip endeavors.

“I don’t think he looked around for jobs,” Nancy said. “More than anything he wanted to start up this business, and probably if his layoff would’ve happened sooner he would’ve started it sooner.”

The business Dennis started, Laurel Hill Woodworking, operates out of a wood shop adjacent to the Tunkhannock couple’s home. Dennis said he’s largely self-taught through experiences that began in high school shop class, continued with sheds and decks and expanded with evening and weekend jobs during his time with Offset Paperback Manufacturers. Laurel Hill Woodworking became Dennis’ full-time job in 2011; now he takes on 30 to 40 jobs a year.

“I do anything that people are looking for that they can’t buy elsewhere,” Dennis said. “Custom sizes, specialty woods or finishes. For the most part it usually starts with a phone call. If it’s a kitchen I go and visit them and, even on custom furniture pieces, I’ll generally come and meet with a customer and get a start there.”

Dennis said his favorite jobs involve custom furniture. He completed three different custom furniture jobs for Laceyville resident Neil King, who met Dennis at Laurel Hill Woodworking’s vendor booth during the Wyoming County Fair.

“We bring ideas to him and he understands the ideas we have and is able to make suggestions and take things from concept or pictures that we may provide,” King said. “He’s able to bring all the things that we like together in our project.”

Dennis has examples of his work including tables and fireplace mantles, and he will introduce a new example during this year’s Wyoming County Fair, Aug. 21-Sept.5.

“I’m going to do some of the repurposed kind of thing, like old barn boards,” Dennis said. “I’ll do some pieces for the fair this year and see how that turns out.”

Nancy said she had her reservations when Dennis repurposed his woodworking hobby into a full-time career, but didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity.

Now, as Laurel Hill Woodworking co-owner, Nancy said Dennis’ hobby has become a viable business with repeat customers including King and Dallas resident George Cave, whose kitchen features an island, countertop and storage options custom-built by Laurel Hill Woodworking.

“We got it all set up and he even helped me install a microwave over the stove because I wasn’t too sure about it,” Cave said.

To contact Laurel Hill Woodworking, visit laurelhillwoodworking.com or call 570-239-6616.

Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts

SOURCE: http://timesleader.com/features/544280/tunkhannock-resident-builds-business-from-woodworking-hobby

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