An artistic approach - A secret weapon

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An artistic approach
Hands-on approach
A secret weapon
Designer puts his cards on the table
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With obvious esteem and not a hint of envy, Guarino adds, “I would love to be able to emulate Sam’s business model. For that matter, I wouldn’t mind running my life the same way he has. He’s a special person.”

In one respect, Guarino has already followed in Maloof’s footsteps: Like the California-based master, he has been entered in juried shows (26 overall since 1981, including eight since the business got under way in 2007). He has garnered prizes, and also had his work accepted for display at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. In November, he learned that Lark Books is putting two of his pieces in its spring 2009 release, “500 Tables.” Dating back to when he was still teaching in high school, his work has been featured five times in Fine Woodworking magazine and on the magazine’s Web site.

A secret weapon
Considering the scant amount of technology and power equipment present in Guarino’s small studio — a 12" Sanco combination joiner/planer, a 20" Inca band saw, a Hitachi chop saw, an Atlas horizontal mill, three hand routers (two Milwaukee and a Porter-Cable), a Fein hand sander, and a 9" Atlas table saw he bought used 30 years ago for just $25 — one has to wonder how he will configure the limited reproduction line for repeat runs. After all, he has no CNC capability and no computer in the work area, just a laptop that normally stays in the house.

Glen, however, has a secret weapon — his son Lucas, 30, who is a manufacturing engineer. When Guarino showed Lucas an Asian Interpretation table that he had painstakingly made three times, all in slightly different versions, the younger man said he could take the basic design and model it so the parts could be produced on a CNC machine for future renditions. That effort is now in the works.

Lucas also was the extra pair of hands when Glen constructed a 14' x 8' storage shed in a corner of his small backyard. “My shop has a peaked roof, so I couldn’t get much into the loft space above the work area,” he explains.

Nevertheless, while Guarino may be used to working in tight quarters, that doesn’t mean he is willing to settle for that forever. In fact, he says, plans are afoot for him to double the size of the studio to 24' x 20', or maybe even a little bit bigger than that. “We’ll do that during 2009,” he says.

Along with the larger footprint will come additional equipment and systems, he says. “I’m going to get a new 12" table saw. I’ve been looking at Powermatic, Laguna or Recon, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m also going to get a downdraft table to help with both architectural drawings and sanding. And I’m going to install a new dust collection system. I’m not happy with the one I have now.”

Glen estimates the overall cost of the expansion, including the new equipment, will come to around $42,000. That brings up questions about the markets Guarino serves and the manner in which he expects this expenditure not only to be paid back, but also to pay off in added income.