It’s pretty easy to go to a chain or independent furniture store to outfit your home. But there are many Long Island artisans who design and build pieces — dining and coffee tables as well as chairs and benches — that are unique and often custom made. We found several such makers who create furniture in a variety of styles, from traditional wood to industrial metal.
Axel Yberg, Centerport
After working as an equities trader and later studying architecture at Pratt Institute, Yberg, 43, started an interior woodworking company. While renovating his mother-in-law’s house in Huntington Bay, he designed and built his first piece of furniture, a glass-topped coffee table with a base of wooden rails held together by wire. More info: akkefunctionalart.com
Yberg sees his ready-made and custom furniture as artwork, creating modern, functional and whimsically named pieces that he says tell a story. A media console called Movie Stars, commissioned by a doctor who won another of Yberg’s pieces in an auction, has two shelves of live edge wood and allows for a painting to cover the television when it’s not in use. The bottom shelf is flanked by two stars in the shape of the Star of David, a nod to his client’s Jewish heritage. “I don’t have a style,” Yberg says. “I’m driven by math and proportion.” He designed this coffee table, which he calls Split Personality, It is made of black walnut and steel.
Nico Yektai, Sag Harbor
Yektai grew up seeing his father, a painter and native of Iran (Yektai, 47, was born there during a year his parents spent in Iran before moving back to New York) modifying the furniture that they lived with.
“He was never really satisfied to buy something off the shelf,” Yektai says. “I grew up watching him make very rough furniture.” Yektai, who also enjoyed woodworking and treehouse building as a youngster, eventually studied furniture making at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He takes an artistic approach, creating sculptural tables, chairs and benches. His work has been in designer showrooms along with galleries and museums. More info: nicoyektai.com
“I searched for a way to work with wood that was unique to me that was respectful to the history of woodworking,” Yektai says. “I don’t have paint rolling off a palette, but I mismatch the grains so they stand out a bit.” Here he holds up a piece of bent wood. He uses the tool in front of him which he refers to as a bending form. This is a technique called bent lamination, one of the ways of bending wood.
Dan Shea, Lake Grove
Dan Shea, pictured, and his son, Cody, launched their father-and-son business last year when Cody, 34, returned to Long Island after serving in the Navy. After a friend came across some used wine barrels, Cody and Dan, 60, a carpenter, ended up turning the discarded wood into a chair. A neighbor loved it, and Shea Oak Works was born. “My father has been building homes and experimenting with furniture building for years, and I have an engineering degree from the Naval Academy,” Cody says. “Our combined experiences make us a great team for designing and creating.” More info: sheaoakworks.com
Shea his son Cody started a furniture business in July 2016, working from their home workshop creating unique pieces for home or office.
Meghan Moros, Bohemia
Moros, 34, has always been an artist. Four years ago, after primarily doing painting, she created Established North with the help of her brother-in-law, a carpenter. She later learned furniture making from family members and other mentors, and now markets her rustic-glam tables, buffets, mirrors and other items to interior designers and small boutiques. More info: facebook.com/establishednorth
Moros has an employee, Frank Pace, who does much of the building while she focuses on the design. She also builds and finishes some of her pieces. “A lot of the pieces are over 300 pounds, so you really need two woodworkers,” Moros says. Moros is the woman among furniture makers. “I’m the only one I know of owning a wood shop,” she says. “I walk into a lot of homes and the couples that are contacting me don’t realize I’m a woman.”
Derek Regenhard, Rocky Point
Like many furniture makers, Regenhard, 36, has been building since he was a teenager taking metal and wood shop in high school. While Regenhard was working in construction a couple of years ago, his wife, Jessica, pushed him to start his own side business, and Naked Metal Studio was born. Regenhard started off making table legs and then began repurposing vintage drawers. He sells his side and console tables online and at The Weathered Barn in Greenport. He is seen here in front of an industrial side table he handcrafted using vintage photo slide drawers. More info: nakedmetalstudio.com
Regenhard designs around the vintage drawers. “I really just work with the material and lay it out and look at it this way and look at it that way,” he said. The Long Island furniture-making community is a small one, and Regenhard has collaborated with artisan Steve Williamson, who uses reclaimed wood to create paneling, and on wood and metal tables.
Chris Padilla, Massapequa
After buying a house in Massapequa with his wife, Kari, five years ago, Padilla, 33, was looking at the cost of new furniture and decided to take a stab at making less expensive items himself. “I’ve always made furniture, and I grew up helping my dad around the house building things,” Padilla says. “It’s always kind of been a part of my life.” For his home, Padilla crafted his and his wife’s midcentury-style bed out of solid walnut and built a trestle-style dining room table. When family and friends liked what they saw, he realized he had a business, and named it after his new street. More info: northsummitstudio.com
Padilla fills out his furniture offerings with home décor items. One of his most popular products is a wooden cutout of Long Island, which was first commissioned by a friend for his new apartment. Padilla plans to design and sell some nightstands as well as a dining room table.
Dan Kelleher, Cutchogue
Kelleher, 36, works in integrated marketing and ad sales for a cable TV network. At the beginning of 2015, he started making tables, as well as signs and other home décor items, from driftwood, collected from the beaches near his and his wife, Jessica’s, home in Mattituck, and reclaimed barn wood. “I think for the first 35 years of my life I didn’t even notice driftwood,” Kelleher says. “I went on YouTube and looked up how to assemble a coffee table.” More info: northforkroots.etsy.com
Kelleher began selling the signs at Revel North Fork, a store in Cutchogue. He recently finished a 10-foot dining table in time for Thanksgiving, which he posted on Instagram, and has since received an order for another table.
“I fell in love with wood,” Kelleher says. “It’s been an awesome stress relief from the everyday.”
Justin Green, Holbrook
Green, 29, started welding 10 years ago at his first real job, for an awning company. He then bounced around doing metal fabrication — structural work, such as staircases — before last year, when he started selling his industrial-style table legs and frames online. “I always knew I was going to work for myself, be an entrepreneur,” Green says. “I just had to jump into it full force.” More info: steelcustomsdesigns.com
Green and a friend, Tommy Potter, who creates repurposed pieces through his company, Anvil Club Co., are planning to open a furniture store at 738 New York Ave. in Huntington, in a few months. The shop will allow people to design their own tables, mixing and matching different legs and wood tops.
Steve Williamson, East Patchogue
Aside from working as a contractor, Williamson, 42, specializes in paneling made from reclaimed wood, and also makes and sells dining, coffee and console tables. “I make different things at different times,” Williamson says. “It’s mainly between paneling and small tables.”His furniture-making business started 15 years ago, when a contracting client was getting rid of a mahogany deck. Williamson used the wood to build a bathroom vanity for his home. More info: swdesigns74.etsy.com
He is hoping to devote more time to his furniture business and has recently begun collaborating with Derek Regenhard of Naked Metal Studio on wood and metal tables and credenzas. “I would rather be working in my shop full time,” Williamson says. “At this point in my life, it’s really where you want to be.”
Paul Bennett, Center Moriches
Bennett, who is in his early 60s, hails from England, where he worked as a buyer for a record store chain before getting the opportunity to take a free carpentry training course run by the U.S. government. He then studied furniture making at the International Boatbuilding Training College in England. Bennett’s father was a carpenter so, he says, “it was kind of in my DNA.” After moving to the United States in 1990 with his American wife, Constance, Bennett worked in a furniture factory and then began taking private commissions in the 1990s. More info: paulbennettfurniture.com
“Woodworking helped me raise four children,” Bennett says.
His pieces lean to the traditional, a reflection of his training. He is looking toward winding down his furniture business, with plans to renovate and rent out two houses he recently purchased in Mexico.
Norman Orsinger, Patchogue
Orsinger, 59, started renovating older homes as a contractor, making parts that weren’t available, as well as custom built-ins. “We basically do anything people ask for,” Orsinger says. “Sometimes we design pieces, other times we’ll have an architect or a builder’s drawings, and we do that.” More info: normanorsingerwoodworking.com
Like many furniture makers, Orsinger has always tinkered with wood and, when he was growing up, his father had a hobby shop in the basement.
One of Orsinger’s most unusual projects was a desk shaped like a guitar for a musician’s office. “We built a matching cabinet in the shape of a guitar pick,” Orsinger says.
Kristian Iglesias, Greenport
Iglesias, 39, went to school to study art and sculpture, and he takes an artistic approach to his work. He has done custom metal fabrication and lighting design for architects and general contractors, and recently started a new company, called Arma, with his wife, graphic designer Nadira Vlaun, 39, and friend, engineer Nick D’Esposito, 25, to focus solely on furniture. More info: kaidesign1.com
Their materials include pigmented cement, concrete, metal, brass and a small amount of wood, and the designs have clean lines. “It’s different working by myself rather than with other people,” Iglesias says. “I come from an art background where I would make something and troubleshoot it later. Nick would troubleshoot it first.”