Seeing the wood for the trees
Meet Jeff Giannone of Entrada Woodworking
Entrada Woodworking has been a hot topic of discussion over the past year, with beautiful commercial projects making an appearance at several dining establishments in downtown Rochester. Entrada owner and designer, Jeff Giannone, has also been a mentor to several up-and-coming local woodworkers—in fact, John Roth mentioned Giannone as one of his local influences in Nancy O’Donnell’s interview in last year’s September-October’s issue. We figured it was time to get to know him a little better.
Giannone was born in Rochester and graduated from Gates Chili High School. As a kid, he often worked with his hands and created things like skateboard ramps. While attending Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his primary use of wood was designing and building frames for his paintings. Inevitably, his passion for woodworking grew. Upon graduating, he landed his first job at BDDW, a luxury Philadelphia furniture company founded by Tyler Hays with a showroom in SoHo. It was there he learned to create heirloom-quality pieces and eventually became one of the lead builders. He then relocated to Arizona with his brother before returning to Rochester and starting his own shop in his parents’ garage.
For the past two years, Giannone has occupied a 1,200-square-foot space in the Hungerford building on East Main Street, where he runs his one-man show. “Clients typically come to me with some sort of an idea of what they want. I go to the client’s home or business to see what kind of woods they have, their colors, and overall interior design,” he says. It then becomes a joint effort between him and the client consisting of sketches, three-dimensional models, and options for bases and tops. He prefers domestic hardwoods (like walnut, white oak, and ash) for their beauty and durability but also their affordability and availability within the region. Rough lumber is cut straight from local trees and sourced through LeWalter Hardwoods in Churchville. Giannone’s hand-rubbed finishing process adds depth to the grain and a beautiful luster.
A favorite recent project is a gorgeous behemoth of a table for a conference room at Truth Collective, an advertising agency located in the Factory on Russell Street. “They really gave me the freedom to create,” Giannone says, “I enjoy working with artistic people in the city -and the restaurants and businesses participating in that scene.” His approach to his work is much like creating fine art, using patchwork and joinery to create a composition or, as he describes, “Encouraging the eye to move around the wood—similar to viewing a painting.”
While he has been influenced by the work of Jeff Martin, SIOSI (a two-woman woodworking studio in Indiana), George Nakashima, and Wendell Castle, he also gleans inspiration from the culinary arts and shows like Chef’s Table. “The best raw materials and ingredients result in the highest-quality product,” he says. His work got a little closer to the kitchen when his twenty-four-foot live-edge slab also made its debut at Bar Bantam last year. The edge of the bar is lightly toasted to seal the wood using the Japanese method of wood preservation known as sho– sugi ban, which contrasts nicely with the light-colored ash cladding. He worked closely with managing partner Chuck Cerankosky on the aesthetics and also crafted Bar Bantam’s tables.
Giannone loves collaborating with local architects and woodworkers and has a future project that will involve giving renewed “curb appeal” to some western red cedar telephone poles. They will be repurposed into a large custom outdoor table. He will be working with one of his local mentees, Michelle Massara, and the table will feature multiple pop-up lazy Susans camouflaged into the top with a metal base. A proponent of repurposing whenever possible, Giannone has managed to score wood from tree-cutting services that would ordinarily grind the trees down for mulch. He salvages them and cuts them into slabs, saying, “Preserving and making a table is a much better option!” EntradaWoodworking.com
Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer and artist currently located in Rochester. Follow her at @thestaceyrowe on Instagram and Twitter or find her work online at staceyrowe.com.