In 1999, Louis “Lou” Piscitelli was working as a home-improvement specialist, completing some basic home-repair work for a homeowner in Red Bank, New Jersey when his client asked him to take on a much bigger project — the design, build and installation of grand built-in bookcases for her Victorian home’s front parlor.
That particular project marked Piscitelli’s foray into the world of custom woodworking, and launched a successful career that has been nothing short of gratifying for the artist. “I built that job in a 400 square-foot one-car garage behind my house,” he recalls. “Now I work in a 4,000 square-foot shop with 20-foot ceilings with skylights.”
CARVING HIS NICHE
When Piscitelli made the transition to become a full-time woodworker, cabinet making became his heavy focus. He shared a shop with another cabinetmaker in Ocean Township, New Jersey until his family moved to the Space Coast in 2003. “I decided to move to Brevard after visiting with my in-laws,” he explains. “There was a lot of growth in housing, which was beneficial to my business, and the weather was great. No more installations at snow-filled job sites.”
Once here, he immediately opened up shop in Melbourne. And today, his business, L.A. Custom Woodwork, Inc. is celebrating 10 years in business.
“The area is very diverse and gives me an opportunity to work on a wide range of jobs, which keeps things interesting,” says Piscitelli. “One week I might be building floating vanities out of bamboo, then the next week I might be building cabinetry out of cherry wood for a traditional kitchen.”
Being an expert woodworker is something that came gradually to Piscitelli. He says he cultivated his skills while doing home improvement projects. “You use a wide spectrum of tools — from hand tools to power tools — just to do a small job some- times,” he explains.
Still, Piscitelli has always been drawn to art and has always enjoyed working with his hands.
“Building things from a design that I create, or transforming a client’s idea into reality, is very gratifying,” he says. “That is where I came up with my slogan, ‘If you can dream it, we can build it.’”
One of Piscitelli’s most fond projects was the restoration of a New Jersey home on the Navesink River that Count Basie (one of the U.S.’s most influential jazz artists) grew up in. The job consisted of a few special built-in armoires and some trim work. The moldings were made to match the original wood that was still intact. “It had to be fit and finished to look like it was original to the home, but functional for modern-day living,” says Piscitelli. “When it was completed, it was seamless with the existing home.”
AS GREEN AS YOU CAN GET
Most of the cabinetry and furniture pieces created at L.A. Custom Woodwork are crafted out of maple wood. Piscitelli says he prefers this type of wood because it’s hard and because it’s very light colored, so it can be stained light to black and any color in between. “I also use cherry, oak, mahogany and any other wood that the client would like to use,” he adds.
L.A. Custom Woodwork strictly works with PureBond® plywood, a North American hardwood that uses a soy-based glue that is urea-formaldehyde free. “I am a certified PureBond fabricator, so our customers can be sure they’re getting the real thing and not just domestic plywood. These products are safer for me to work with and are extremely healthy for families,” he says.
Furthermore, all of the Green Technology finishes used by L.A. Custom Woodwork are non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-flammable and environmentally friendly. This all adds up to L.A. Custom Woodwork producing some of the most environmentally friendly cabinetry and furniture pieces around.
Recently, Piscitelli used reclaimed lumber for the doors and drawer fronts of a client’s pool bathroom. The client was seeking a space with a unique, driftwood feel. “After doing some research, I found recycled boards used as snow fence in Wyoming. It had a nice grey patina that we needed, plus some rusty nail heads for even more appeal. It took a little ingenuity, but it looks like it just washed up from the ocean,” he explains. “I think that is about as green and earth-conscious as you can get.”
L.A. Custom Woodwork, Inc. specializes in residential and commercial cabinetry for kitchens, built-ins and fine furniture using urea-formaldehyde-free PureBond® plywood. For more information, call (321) 750-4806 or visit LACustomWoodwork.com.