Q: How long have you been in the furniture-making business? 

Roger Rheault, owner of Rheault’s Furniture: I’ve been making furniture since 1987. 

Q: Why did you get involved with custom-built wood furniture?

A: Actually, it happened by chance. A woman that I was working for owned a bakery and needed some picnic tables, she asked me if I knew anyone around that could make them. I offered to make them for her. She didn’t pick them up right away. I had put them by the side of the road and sold them right away, then I made her some more. I taught myself, had no experience previous to that used. I used to be in the restaurant business. 

Q: What was that like, teaching yourself?

A: It was very challenging, because I didn’t think of it as a hobby, I thought of it as a job right off the bat. I just kept applying myself. It didn’t matter how long it took to make a certain product, I worked at it until I thought it was the best I could do with that product. It was very satisfying and it was satisfying to see people interested in my product, buying it and requesting furniture also. 

Q: Why have you chosen to display a lot of your products on the front lawn of your workshop? 

A: That happens to be my display area, because I have no showroom per se inside. Also, I started out with outdoor furniture, so I needed to put it outside so people could see it. 

Q: Do you hold standard hours at your shop?

A: I’m open 12 to 8 p.m., six days a week and Sundays by appointment. 

Q: What is your most common item to make?

A: It’s a variety of things — lawn swings ad chairs, love seats, park benches, anything to do with the yard for the summer. I also do interior work, like book shelves and display cases, hope chests and bureaus, tables and then I do a lot of repairs of old furniture and refinishing of antiques. 

Q: What are some custom requests you have fulfilled?

A: I’d say 90 percent of my work is custom work. I have built a lot of furniture for University of New England from chairs to tables for their art department to tables for outside to a couple units for their dining hall. The white Adirondack chairs on the lawn, new chairs for the Bush Center. At Dyer Library (in Saco) a man donated his collection of trains, and all the wooden cabinets and display plaques and all the wooden items that are associated with his trains are all items I built. 

Q: What supplies do you use, as far as wood products and finishing is concerned?

A: I use a lot — depends on requests. I use a lot of maple, birch, mahogany, some pine for indoors. I use finishing on the outdoor products like the chairs and I’ll use California paints, a high-quality paint. I prime it first and then put two coats of high-gloss finish over that. 

Q: With items on display on a main route, do you have a lot of people stopping out of curiosity?

A: A lot of tourists stop by and order, or some people may be here on vacation and they want something and get it shipped. I do ship items, I’ve even shipped chairs to England. 

Q: Is delivery available? 

A: Delivery is available around the area and my clientele, they can range anywhere from Freeport to Portsmouth, as far as people ordering from me. People will see my website or be referred and order from me. 

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I like being my own boss and being in charge of a lot of different aspects of the operation. I do everything from selecting the wood — making sure the wood is premium — to sanding it and going out and getting supplies and then building it, sanding it and finishing it, then paperwork on top of that afterward and then the delivery. I like meeting people at their home and socializing with them and conversing with them. In a nutshell, I’ve been doing it since ’87 and I still love my work. 

Q: What are some of your latest creations?

A: I’ve built some chairs with ski backs on them last fall and I plan on doing some more of those. I’m filling orders, so it’s hard to get an inventory going. I’m always coming up with new ideas. 

Q: What sets your work apart from other woodworkers?

A: I’ve built thousands and thousands of pieces of furniture over the course of the years. I’m not just limited to one item. I could be building chairs today, and the next day a bookcase, and the day after that a display case. No two days are the same. With the repairs and the refinishing, which is something very unique, I’m one of a few who does that — that’s also fun to do, too. It makes a difference. Also, it’s quality, handcrafted furniture and I’m a local craftsmen. 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]