Mountain Sun Workshop
Mountain Sun Workshop
Woodworking in Hunter
By Collin Miller
As homeowners renovate old farmhouses and cottages in the Catskill Region, restoration woodworkers are in demand. If you have ideas for remodeling your kitchen cabinets or need a new entertainment center, Mountain Sun Workshop – makers of fine cabinets, custom furniture, and architectural woodworking – can provide you with a customized touch. Jewett local Paul LaPierre, chief designer and master craftsman at Mountain Sun, is dedicated to tailoring his woodworking style to enhance the unique character of the spaces where he works. In fact, his portfolio displaying over 30 years of custom woodworking –ranging from Arts and Crafts to contemporary styles – drew leagues of attention at the Wood Products Fair during the Mountain Culture Festival in Hunter. LaPierre receives many commissions to enhance the region’s homes and workspaces using locally harvested woods like maple, cherry, oak, and ash.
As a woodworker, LaPierre has had the advantage of working beside his home and family in the Catskill Mountains where he was raised. He became a full-time craftsman following a degree in Geology and employment in various fields including education, military service, and boatbuilding. After establishing Mountain Sun Workshop at age 32, LaPierre soon attracted attention among architects and homeowners from the Catskills to New York City. Now over 30 years later, Mountain Sun is one of the premier custom cabinet shops in the region.
Part of that success, no doubt, is in Paul’s genes. Woodworking is a tradition in the LaPierre family. Paul’s brother John has operated LaPierre Cabinetry in Mount Dora, Florida for over 20 years; the two often rely on each other to trouble-shoot equipment problems or share ideas on projects. LaPierre has also collaborated with rustic designer, longtime friend, and Catskill neighbor, Judd Weisberg.
To remain on the cutting edge of wood design, LaPierre applied for and received a development grant from the Watershed Agricultural Council’s Forestry Program in 2002. He used the award to upgrade his workshop in Hunter. As he walked me through his recently completed “woodshed”, LaPierre spoke of the variety of ways that unique hardwood lumber wind up in his collection. “The cherry boards in that rack had been lying in a barn for 25 years before they found me…” says LaPierre,” and that curly red oak came from a nearby cabinet shop that was moving out of the area.”
Through his educational and civic work on the Jewett Town Board, LaPierre sees great potential for expanding woodworking education in local high schools, vocational training institutions, and places like SUNY College at Delhi to increase the local skilled workforce and develop better paying jobs in the region’s wood industry. That is why he has organized an apprenticeship program with a local high school to allow interested students to spend part of their school day learning at LaPierre’s shop where some have earned academic credit.
On October 20th at Belleayre Mountain, LaPierre will present the achievements of Mountain Sun Workshop to policy-makers at the annual Local Government Day. The focus of his talk will be on how he has taken advantage of economic assistance and local resources to expand his company. LaPierre believes that the path to watershed protection and strong rural communities is to keep dollars and jobs local through value-added processing of wood and farm products from the region. “Whether it’s a dairy-farmer in Bovina or a cabinetmaker in Gilboa, the sale of local products to local people is what maintains the rural character of the Catskills and makes the area a special place to live.” says LaPierre.
If you would like to discuss a woodworking project with Paul LaPierre please call (518) 263-4442 or visit the Mountain Sun Workshop website www.mountainsun.ws to view some of his recent work. Directories of local sawmills, woodworkers, and wood products galleries in the Catskill Region are available online at www.nycwatershed.org, or by contacting Collin Miller, Forestry Program Specialist at the Watershed Agricultural Council at (607) 865-7790 x112 or [email protected].