Sartini Woodworking in Clinton, Mass., got started in 2006 as the economy for homebuilding and related woodworking was still on the upswing. Owner Kyle Sartini right away built a solid business working with homebuilders, architects, designers and sometimes directly with homeowners. There were also remodeling projects with full-time remodeling companies, and as the market for new construction slipped, Sartini found himself increasingly serving the remodeling business in the metropolitan Boston area.
That’s turned out to be a good thing for his business, which he says is picking up and his three-man shop is on track to do $400,000 in sales this year. Referring to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, Sartini says, “I’m a member of NARI, and we’ve done a lot of networking through that. The NARI connections have been really helpful and connected with more professional people.”
Bringing business in by networking also means Sartini is less often in competitive bidding situations. He says only about a third of his work comes through competitive bids. Most projects are negotiated deals where Sartini is pretty much ensured the job as long as he can work with the clients to meet their budget and project requirements.
Small shop, big capabilities
While Sartini’s shop is relatively small with just himself and two other workers in 3,800 square feet, he makes effective use of the space and doesn’t shortchange on capabilities. A Striebig vertical panel saw handles most of the panel sizing and basic cutting work. “We cut everything on the Striebig,” he says. “We’ve had it two years and love it.” The saw is conveniently located adjoining the sheet goods and lumber storage area, so it’s easy to load and offload the machine.
One negative about Sartini’s shop space is the relatively low ceilings in the building. That made it difficult to impossible to install overhead ducting for an effective central dust collection system. Sartini instead uses smaller dedicated collectors for each machine or a nearby machine group. That includes a Timesavers widebelt sander served by a Dustek collection unit.
“Bring me a challenge.”
Versatility is important to Sartini, and that is reflected in the work the shop does, which is about two-thirds frameless cabinetry and about one-third face frames. “We do everything from a 12-foot wall unit to a 30-linear-foot kitchen,” Sartini says. “I enjoy the full range, the full process. Bring me a challenge that requires a difficult set of skills.”
On a recent visit to the shop, there was even a stack of slabs milled from a tree that came down in a storm, once dried and fully milled, the wood will be a furniture or cabinet project for the homeowner who had the tree.
“Our edge is our quality, customer service, and attention to detail,” says Sartini. “We are willing to listen to find a solution.”
Design work is done in TurboCAD, but Sartini doesn’t rely just on what’s in the computer. “We do a full scale layout for anything we build,” he says. “That way we can figure out the tricky areas, and you know all of your sizes are lined up.”
In keeping with the goal of wanting to provide whatever is needed for a job, Sartini prides himself on doing virtually all of every project in house. The shop uses a Freeborn door cutting stack cutter system on an SCMI shaper to efficiently manufacture their own doors, most of which are five-piece raised or flat panel.
Most drawers are also built in house except for dovetailed drawers, which are outsourced to a local manufacturer. A Castle pocket hole machine handles the joinery for attaching face frames. The shop also does all of its own installations.
Similarly, finishing is also handled in house. The shop shares a spray booth with another shop in its same building. Most finishes are conversion varnish and lacquer-based stains, but recently the shop has added water-based finishes. “There are not too many requests for green, but we do offer waterborne finishes, and we work with one builder who does green building,” says Sartini.
Art and design background
Although Sartini’s father was a carpenter, Sartini didn’t start out to become a woodworker. He went to Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he got a degree in architectural engineering. Then he gravitated to fine arts and earned a bachelor’s degree from The Art Institute of Boston.
But when he got out of college, the first job he landed was in a mill, and he started doing cabinetry and architectural millwork. That evolved to become his own shop and the business he runs today.
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