‘Taylor’-Making Custom Finishes
Using intriguing combinations of glaze, crackle, stain, paint and wood toner, a New Jersey shop beautifies furniture one piece at a time.
By Lisa Whitcomb
When confronted by an impending career day project in the eighth grade to make a career choice for his future, Jay Taylor, Taylor Made Custom Cabinetry, Palmyra, NJ, remembers fondly that he wanted more than anything to be a carpenter. Upon hearing of his career aspirations, Taylor’s uncle suggested that he take the idea one step further and consider becoming a cabinetmaker. “He said, “Jay, carpentry jobs come and go. But if you become a cabinetmaker, you will always have work. [If times are slow and you have no cabinets to make,] you can always fall back on your carpentry skills, but not the other way around,” recalls Taylor.
That advice stuck with him through his formative years, and in high school Taylor pursued training through wood shop and vocational schooling. After graduation, he was unsure of exactly how to apply his training in the woodworking field, so Taylor decided to go to college and specialize in furniture woodworking and design. He says that the program he was enrolled in at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was small, and when he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, he was the only one graduating in that major that year.
“When I got out of college, I wanted to get into custom woodworking, so I worked for three different cabinet shops doing custom work. Then, I worked for an exhibit company for a while, so my woodworking experiences were pretty varied. I always knew that I wanted to own my own business and said to myself one day in 1989, ‘The time to do it is now.’ I quit my job and opened my own shop,” says Taylor.
Building a client base with design appeal
“I looked into several different woodworking markets when I was getting out of renovations and decided early on that I wanted to build cabinetry and furniture pieces for clients who would appreciate good design, fine craftsmanship and not be overly concerned with price,” he says. “I never wanted to be in a mass-production middle market because I have so much background in design. I wanted my work to be artistic, one-of-a-kind and special.”
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