Putting a unique twist on things: Lee resident opens woodworking shop next door to father’s famous diner | Jobs

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LEE — Sam Sorrentino has a passion for wood lathes, turning a longtime hobby into a quaint storefront business.

The son of the late Joseph Sorrentino Sr. opened Heirloom Woodworks at the north end of Main Street, two doors down from Joe’s Diner, which his father founded in the 1950s.







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Sam Sorrentino, owner of Heirloom Woodworks, began honing his woodturning skills 25 years ago and joined Western Massachusetts Woodturners 10 years ago to learn more about woodworking techniques and connect with others in the field. Arms raised when sharing ideas.




The elder Mr. Sorrentino retired in 2000 and sold the diner, but kept the building intact.

Will the Sorrentino family name help sell ornaments, bowls, and other handmade wooden products?

“I think it helps,” he said. “It’s good to have Sorrentino back in this building. This is where I spent my childhood and worked at the diner with my family.”

Sorrentino began honing his woodturning skills 25 years ago and joined Western Mass Woodturners 10 years ago to learn about woodworking techniques and share ideas with others in the field.

Woodturning is a craft that uses a wood lathe with hand tools to cut symmetrical shapes around an axis of rotation.

On the day an Eagle reporter visited Sorrentino, he was finishing up Christmas ornaments on his lathe and placing them in his storefront window for passersby to see. He picked up a small block of Spectraply, a brand name for plywood color blocks manufactured primarily for wood turning.

“If you put something in the lathe, you end up with something you enjoy,” he said. “If you cut a piece of wood down, you never know what you’re going to get.”







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Sam Sorrentino created the bowls on a wood lathe for Lee’s Heirloom Woodworks, which opened two months ago. One of Sorrentino’s favorite woods to work with is burl. Burls are round growths that grow on the trunks and branches of trees intertwined with dormant buds.


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One of Sorrentino’s favorite woods to work with is burl. Burls are round growths that grow on the trunks and branches of trees intertwined with dormant buds. Deformed wood makes a useful bowl.

“I have people who own trees, who have sentimental value to them, who want something made of that wood,” he said. “We had two customers who wanted us to make bowls for them as Christmas presents.”

Sorrentino opened Heirloom Woodworks about two months ago and has been slowly building up inventory for sale while bringing in goods from several other woodworkers.

The cozy shop, which accommodates just a few people at a time during this time of social distancing, is Monk’s Professional Barber, a former antique store and once a mainstay in the heart of downtown Lee. It was the home of Shop.

The store is open weekday afternoons by appointment only, as Mr. Sorrentino still operates a cutting edge, video production, audio/video sales and rental business.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted his video production, with few if any gatherings to record. He mainly does rental business.

Meanwhile, Heirloom Woodworks has expanded beyond retail, with Sorrentino offering wood turning lessons and hopefully passing on the craft to younger generations.

“I have a young student from Monterey who teaches here, and he’s got his own lathe now,” he said.





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