Alexander Bassey’s woodworking hobby became a new career
What began as a woodworking hobby in Alexander Bassey’s garage in Grafton has grown into a business offering handcrafted, heirloom-quality tables and countertops.
Bassey had always tinkered with wood projects. But then, 14 years ago, his hobby outgrew his garage when a relative closed the doors on his cabinetry shop on Long Island, and Bassey bought all their tools.
“That was the turning point,” Bassey says. “Everything really took off after that.”
While he had been in construction and therefore knew many area vendors, Bassey still had legwork to do to jump-start Alexander Butcher Block. He knocked on local doors such as Curtis Lumber in Malta, as well as other retailers that would become his early customers.
Flash forward to today: Bassey recently made a $50,000 table for Google in New York City. Local restaurants, including Toro in Colonie, had Alexander Butcher Block bar tops, tabletops and counters installed. The small business also takes on commercial office furniture jobs.
But Bassey’s client base isn’t composed completely of high-ticket jobs. You can also buy a custom coffee table for around $850. “When people come in, we do our best to stay within their budget,” Bassey says.
Be prepared to be dazzled when you go through the doors of the Troy showroom and see the gleaming light bouncing off the ultra-shiny tabletops. The luxe finishes are produced with Bassey’s trademarked TimberGlass Wood Finish, a crystal clear coating that makes the surface 100% waterproof, scratch-resistant, bleach- and chemical-resistant as well as extremely durable.
For nearly 20 years, Bassey explored and experimented on different combinations of ingredients to create this unique finish for his tabletops. After many trials and failures, he finally reached his goal in early 2022. Thanks to TimberGlass, his company’s wooden products can be used in wet areas without developing water rings, such as around sinks or when people don’t use a coaster on a coffee table.
All the products, from countertops to tables, are made from North American hardwoods, primarily walnut, cherry and maple. Some customers look for storm-damaged slabs with imperfections that give the wood its own unique character.
“Our client base is all over the map,” Bassey says. “Our wood ranges from what people might consider ugly to super nice and elegant.”
The products range from the standard butcher block-style edge grain, in which wood is glued side-to-side, to the end grain style, a gorgeous checkerboard pattern made painstakingly by placing the boards straight up end-to-end and gluing them together. Another option is the live edge top that follows the natural grain of the wood, resulting in fascinating wavy edges that ensure no two will ever be the same.
Once clients have decided on the style of the top, they can choose from among several types of edging. The Pencil Edge — the most popular choice — is a slightly rounded edge, while the Roman Ogee Edge with its intricate design is often used on more traditional, formal-style tables.
A true family business, Bassey’s son Alexander, 19, and daughter Isabella, 17, are learning the business alongside their dad, something they began doing in middle school. “We expect it to stay in the family,” Bassey says.
As for future expansion and possible franchising, Bassey still has his thinking cap on. “In some ways, it’s grow or die,” he says. “We either need to stay very small or get much larger. But franchising isn’t on the radar right now.”
Bassey staffs the showroom, while his three employees work in the shop, located nearby the store in Troy.
With a deep commitment to minimizing their carbon footprint, Bassey uses locally sourced urban-salvaged slabs, retired orchard, cemetery and other forest-salvaged trees. Unlike other epoxy resins on the market, Alexander Butcher Block resins use bio content without toxic compounds or heavy metals. The resin is made from renewable sources with what Bassey says are the safest and most environmentally friendly materials and processes.
Additionally, all Alexander Butcher Block excess wood and project waste is recycled. A majority of their cutoffs are resourced to local craftsmen to make smaller pieces such as cutting boards. Any additional excess wood and even the sawdust are swept up and sent to a local processor to be recycled into mulch.
“The wood lives out its life and goes back into the earth,” Bassey says.
Wood grain photo: iStockphoto.com/LesyaD.