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North Hills Monthly

For Custom-made, Quality Work, Hire a Carpenter

Oct 31, 2019 01:16PM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Macik Custom Woodworking

Carpentry is a multifaceted profession. From general carpenters to cabinetmakers to millworkers to coopers to lathers to floor coverers to framers, it takes a village to build, well, a village.

Brad Wynkoop, owner of The Wooden Whale Workshop in Freeport, specializes in making custom furniture, from tables to hutches to entertainment centers. Wynkoop has been with the company for about seven years and became the owner two years ago.

Wynkoop said that he uses maple more than 90 percent of the time, and he sources all of his wood locally. “We’re a local business, so we try to keep everything we source local–all supplies, wood, and everything we use,” he said.

Wynkoop has a shop where customers can see finished products that he has made for other customers, but all of his work is made to order. He said that many people are drawn to custom furniture versus buying it in a store.

“First, the quality is obviously going to be better; we only use real wood. Also, we can customize anything. You can get the exact sizing, and we can match any color. If you can picture an item in your head that you can’t find in a furniture store, you can get it here,” he explained. 

“We’ve made thousands of tables—no two are exactly the same,” he added, which he says is one of the most rewarding parts of his profession.

Orrin Macik, owner of Macik Custom Woodworking in Gibsonia, initially focused on residential home construction. In 2008, when both the economy and the housing market simultaneously crashed, he opened up his custom shop. The majority of his clients are residential homeowners, though he has done some commercial projects as well. His bread and butter, though, is custom cabinetry.

“We will handle anything—we will build custom cabinetry, mantles, bookcases, wainscoting, custom stairways—any number of things,” he said, adding that he also takes on a few interior residential renovation projects each year.

Though maple is probably the most popular wood for projects, Macik said that he works with a number of domestic wood species, including walnut, cherry, red oak, white oak, poplar and hickory.

“We get into some exotics, like mahogany, but not a lot. Out of everything, my absolute favorite lumber, just because I like the grain structure, is cypress. It’s gorgeous and I love the way it takes the stain. It is naturally rot-resistant, so it is an excellent alternative for an exterior wood application,” he explained.

Some of the more memorable projects that Macik has done include live-edge furniture, in which the actual edges are built in, giving the piece a natural, rustic element. In addition to this style, Macik said that other popular styles include anything that is “…funky, modern and trendy.”

Carrying on a longtime family tradition, Alan Stauber, owner of Quality Carpentry in Portersville, has been in carpentry for 41 years. He specializes in handrail, moulding and custom-built furniture. He also works in what he calls ‘old school’ work: remodeling, custom bars, and whole house renovation.

For him, trending projects include built-ins with bookshelves. “As far as restoration, I do a lot of handrail work. Everyone wants the wood balusters removed and metal balusters installed,” he said.

He added that the most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing the finished project. “It’s a very, very fulfilling job at the end. You do all this work, and when you step back and it’s a beautiful piece of furniture or a kitchen, you find great fulfillment in that—it’s really satisfying,” said Stauber.

Those in the business will tell you that carpentry is an art, though not as popular a trade as it used to be.

Macik, who sits on the board of a local technical trade school, has noticed that enrollment of young people specializing in carpentry is declining. But there is more than one way to become a carpenter; sometimes, young people bypass formal training to work as an apprentice for an established carpenter.

Stauber said that carpentry is an ‘earn as they learn’ profession, and that what might entice younger people to come back to the field is knowing that they’re not walking out of college with six-figure debt.

Wynkoop joked that he credits Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show Fixer Upper with being a positive influence on his business. “They definitely made it popular again,” he said.

While carpentry may not be a lost art, Macik does believe that it is underappreciated. “My challenge is finding people with the skillset who can take on the work,” he said. “I like to bring in younger guys and give them on-the-job training. I tell everyone I hire—you will learn skills here that will last you a lifetime.”  n

To learn more:

The Wooden Whale Workshop: www.woodenwhaleworkshop.com

Macik Custom Woodworking: www.macikwoodworking.com

Quality Carpentry: 724-368-8156 www.alansqualitycarpentry.com