BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Through the front door of the unassuming Adirondack Woodshed on State Street is a sort of Narnia.
It’s not exactly a closet, but the brick building hardly seems large enough to hold the maze of bookshelves, toy chests, dining tables, and chairs that waits inside.
It’s all handmade, and there isn’t a shred of particleboard in sight. The warm smell of freshly cut wood emanating from the workshop where craftsmen build custom furniture confirms the place’s authenticity.
The shop’s owner, Harvey Lambeth III, said Adirondack Woodshed was founded by his father, Harvey Lambeth Jr., with a simple focus in 1970. Originally it sold only unfinished wood furniture. It later grew to include custom pieces and some finished items.
“That’s pretty much been it the whole way,” Lambeth said.
Most of the furniture is built by Lambeth’s Amish business partners, with the exception of some custom items built on-site.
“We go down to Lancaster about every three weeks or so,” Lambeth said. Usually, three-quarters or more of what they pick up in Pennsylvania is already spoken for in Albany, sold and ready for a new home.
“I think what brings people here is they look for basic, simple, functional furniture and solid wood,” he said. “Usually they can’t find it elsewhere.”
Plus, he said, it’s easy for people to fulfill an interior design vision if they start from scratch.
“With unfinished furniture there are many options of color, distressed, heavily distressed,” he said. And of course, they can always start from scratch. The most common item people come in search of is the perfect wooden bookcase.
Lambeth got into the family business a few years after graduating from Roger Williams University (back then it was Roger Williams College) in Bristol, Rhode Island. His father needed some help at the store, and Lambeth had always found the work pleasant, so he agreed to come home to Niskayuna.
“Dad asked me to come back and help for a while,” he said. “Back then I enjoyed it because it was simple.”
A true family business, Adirondack Woodshed now allows Lambeth to put his daughter, Gabrielle, through college. He’s proud of the business he’s built, but even prouder of her, a freshman at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.