ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) Paul Nadeau's first real job was working with wood, but it wasn't until he went to a machine conference while working at Ethan Allen that he discovered laser engraving.
"The stuff you can make, the artwork in granite, marble, different materials, just blew me away," he said.
Nadeau started laser engraving as a side business in 2001. There weren't many others doing it in Vermont.
"It started to become more obvious that it could become a permanent business," Nadeau said.
Anything Engraving has a shop in Newport and recently took over ATD Signs in St. Johnsbury.
"It's kind of a learning phase right now, but come spring we'll be ready to take off," Nadeau said.
If someone has an idea of what they want, they send Anything Engraving a digital photo with any added text. The graphic designer lays it out with help from the client.
"It's really their idea coming to fruition," Nadeau said.
The laser engravers do the rest. Laser beams reflect off mirrors through a focal lens. The images burn into the material just like ink on a piece of paper.
"We've laser engraved pumpkins to try and make stencils for people to carve by. We've laser engraved marshmallows, pieces of bread, toast. You name it. If it burns, you can put it in the laser machine and make an image on it," Nadeau said.
Different woods react in certain ways, but Nadeau has perfected the technique.
"Mahogany is really sensitive to temperature change, so is cherry. So it doesn't take much to change the color quite a bit," he said.
It costs about $35 for engraving. It's around $65 if something is being engraved on an item made in Nadeau's shop.
"We're bringing money in from California, from Virginia, from all over the place and we've even received orders from Iraq," Nadeau said. "When people cry when they receive one of their pieces because they're happy-- it's a great feeling."
One man with a laser focus makes Anything Engraving a true gift.