There are places within the boundaries of Streetsville that are gems hidden even to those familiar with the area. Discovering such a gem can give one a sense of satisfaction – as though you’re in the know before many others. This can certainly be said if one comes across the workshop of Lazaro ‘Laz’ Bento.
Opened in November 2017, Mestre (208 Emby Drive, Unit 3A – off of Thomas St. just west of the tracks) is an unassuming location, but within, works of art are being created.
Bento combines his 17 years of prior experience in renovations and finish carpentry with an artistic eye and the desire to employ what nature can supply in the most efficient manner. In crafting bespoke dining and conference tables, cutting and charcuterie boards, built-in shelves and kitchens and bedroom fixtures, many of his pieces are completed with a live edge – using the natural curves and angles of the raw stock.
Customers are encouraged to bring in their vision and colour specifications so he can bring their future heirloom piece to life. By repurposing salvageable wood and using lumber that otherwise would have been scrapped, he is able to keep his prices low relative to what can be the case in most similar operations. The end result, however, is just as beautifully grained and finished as anything that can be found in a high-end store.
As a member of Ontario Wood which promotes the management and responsible use of the province’s forestry resource Mestre uses at least 80 percent locally sourced reclaimed wood. In Bento’s case, the wood is obtained from a supplier in Etobicoke with a sawmill who works with GTA municipalities that are cleaning up felled or wind-damaged trees. He also uses lumber reclaimed from demolished buildings and barns. Further evidence of Bento’s commitment to employing an organic approach in his work is in the finishes he uses, which are eco-friendly, plant-based oils and epoxy.
In the short time since opening, Bento’s reputation for quality work is already receiving word of mouth promotion. He’s also an avid poster on Instagram and is planning on expanding his workshop or opening a storefront to feature his creations. Another goal is to become a supplier of such wood for those who wish to undertake their own projects.
Laz Bento is passionate about his craft and happy to teach or provide tips to people interested in wood-working. It’s good to know that if a tree falls in the urban forest there’s at least one local craftsman who’s around to hear.