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Kay St. Onge working on the lathe in her and her husband’s basement workshop. Kelly Sennott photo.




Kay’s Kustom Krafts

Contact: nhmade.com/members/kays-custom-crafts/, kayskustomkrafts@gmail.com, 472-7484




Crafty couple
Kay and Bill St. Onge busy in the woodshop this season

12/15/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



  Kay and Bill St. Onge met in 2006 while waiting for a table at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Bedford. Both were widowed in 2004 and there alone that day.

“My daughter had been saying, ‘You and dad used to like going out to eat for Italian food. Go out!’ She was going to go with me, but at the last minute, she couldn’t go,” Kay St. Onge said during an interview at the couple’s Bedford home. 
So she went by herself and sat down next to Bill St. Onge. They began talking. When the hostess called his table, he invited her to join him for dinner. 
“I said, ‘If you’re buying, yeah!’” Kay St. Onge said, laughing. 
They married in 2008 and have since traveled all over the country. Last summer, they spent six months on the road. But their favorite activity to do together is woodworking — in fact, they do so much of it, they haul out close to 100 gallons of sawdust a week in 55-gallon drums.
About a year ago they started a NH Made-certified business, Kay’s Kustom Krafts, which they run out of their Bedford home. Over the past several months their projects have focused on making holiday-ready gifts: pens, seam rippers, picture frames, cutting boards, shakers, grinders and wine stoppers. Both are retired now, but Kay St. Onge convinced him the venture would earn them some “play money” and get their name out for their custom furniture business.
Woodworking has been a lifelong hobby for Bill St. Onge — in fact, he’s still got tools that belonged to his great-grandfather, which he pulls out a few times a year — but it’s a new one for her. Quilting used to be her primary craft, but she likes that this medium is cooperative.
“Quilting is kind of a solitary type of thing,” she said. “But with this we can work together. I enjoy working with him, and he enjoys working with me. Usually, if we come up with a problem he can’t solve, I can. If I can’t solve it, he can.”
The proof of this productive relationship is in their kitchen, where you’ll find pieces that hold food, clothes and dog food, plus their first piece together, ever — an antique cabinet stained with reduced coffee and reduced wine. It’s also in their bedroom, which holds a large wooden bureau they made, and on their dining room table, which is typically reserved to display their latest makes.
During a recent visit, the duo were working on holiday-friendly gifts in their basement workshop. They wore matching green polos, jeans and bright orange suspenders. Christmas music played in the background. He finished up a wooden pen on the lathe and, after popping on some red ear protectors, she pushed a piece of cedar through their planer. (“I especially love the smell of it afterward,” Kay St. Onge said, holding the wood to her nose.)
The pens are currently available at the Currier Museum of Art’s gift shop, and they come in different types of wood (like maple, rosewood, hickory, pine and oak) and metal (gold, pewter, silver). Making them requires a lot of machinery, including a table saw, planer, sanding machine, joiner and lathe — which might be why you don’t see it done in New Hampshire often.
“It’s not very hard to learn how to make it, if you’re already a turner,” he said. “Very few people are doing this. You need a lot of equipment to do it the way we do it. And, of course, we’ve been collecting these tools since we’ve been together, and I’ve been collecting tools since I was 3 years old.”
When they’re not woodworking, they’re traveling; this summer they have tentative plans to go to Maine or Nova Scotia. Last summer they were on the road for six months, and in 2012 they were gone for seven. They’ve gone kayaking, gold mining — it doesn’t seem to matter what they do, just as long as they’re together. 
“We just enjoy doing stuff together, period. We hate being apart. Even for a few minutes,” Bill St. Onge said. “This is an adventure every day. … People tell us we’re living the life, and we agree.” 





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