From buoys to wagon wheels: JNJ Woodworking refashions furniture design

By Andrea Ray | Oct 25, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray John Nadeau at work on what will eventually be a refurnished dresser.

Marion — Machine parts. Old yarn spools. Barn boards, hay feeders, worn out chairs, tin pails, buoys, window shutters.

John Nadeau, of JNJ Woodworking in Marion, can (and has) transformed each piece, once earmarked for trash, into new furniture.

Nadeau started JNJ Woodworking, located at 864 Mill Street in Marion, in 2011, after a long stint as a custom builder of stairs. Though he liked the building work, he was keen to start working on his own designs. "I like to be creative, I like to think outside the box," he said.

Nadeau repairs and restores old wooden furniture for clients, and can also transform it to give it a new use (an old dresser recently became a bar). His particular passion is creating his own furniture designs.

Nadeau began by using reclaimed wood from construction sites. "It was such a waste to see all of that useful wood just laying there," he explained. At the time, he could get the material for a song, too. Nobody else really wanted it, he said.

That's changed in the last few years, thanks to a growing trend for reclaimed furniture. Sites like Pinterest, as well as a burgeoning interest in 'do-it-yourself' projects, means that items Nadeau would've earlier picked up for pennies are now out of his price range.

"It means I get to be more creative," Nadeau said, explaining that it can be tricky to purchase an item that will turn a profit. "I look at the things people are still leaving behind, and imagine what I could do with them."

He's made table legs from buoys, machine parts, wagon wheels and old yarn spools. He's made a table stand out of an old metal milk jug. A recent project, still being worked on, will turn the sewing table of one client's mother into a bathroom counter and sink.

Nadeau starts all projects by "washing" the wood pieces he'll work with. "It's not stripping," he clarified. "The wash removes the original sealant, but everything else remains, including the color." After he removes the original seal alongside any wax and dirt, he reseals the wood, often adding a waterproof finish to it.

Nadeau's business took awhile to get off the ground, he admitted, thanking his wife Judy for her hand in running the business. 'JNJ' stands for John and Judy Nadeau. "I couldn't run this business without her," Nadeau said.

Now, the Nadeaus are seeing repeat customers. "People are starting to come back," Nadeau said. "I do the custom pieces, the 'unique' things that stand out." Often, he explained, when customers return, it's with a specific piece they want to see restored.

"It's been tough to schedule, sometimes," Nadeau admitted. "I don't want to sacrifice quality to get things done quickly, so we're booked through December. But people don't seem to mind. It's a trust thing. They know that I'll get their projects done, and get them done well."

For more information on JNJ Woodworking, visit www.jnjwoodworking.net, or call 504-344-6103 .

A table made of wagon wheel bands and reclaimed wood. (Courtesy of: JNJ Woodworking)
A coffee table made of reclaimed wood and corbels, normally an architectural feature on the underside of a roof. (Courtesy of: JNJ Woodworking)
A coffee table with a stand that once functioned as a metal milk jug. (Courtesy of: JNJ Woodworking)
A popular item, John Nadeau takes two old chairs to make a bench like this. (Courtesy of: JNJ Woodworking)
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