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Charlie can trace his woodworking projects back over 60 years. "I would sneak to the basement to use my father's tools. (As a parent, I now realize that sneak is the wrong word. My father must have known that I was using his tools.)" In fourth or fifth grade Charlie won a prize for a wooden stool he made. (It is ugly by today's standards, but I still use it.) In 7th grade he turned his first lamp on a lathe, to match the bed posts of his bed (It is still in use). Over the years, he built countless kitchen and bathroom cabinets, bookcases, and other "cabinet" projects, and remodeled several houses.
Gradually he switched from just cabinets to building fine furniture. As others saw his work, he was often asked, "can you build one of those for me?" Starting around 20 years ago, he accepted commission while keeping his full-time job. Finally in early 2005 he switched from full-time computer-consulting and part-time woodworking, to full-time woodworking and occasional consulting. Some call it retirement. Others call it pursuing a passion.
Jenny has been married to Charlie for over 40 years, so has endured many of the bigger projects. Actually her participation was more "help with" rather than just "hold this." She took up woodworking as a hobby, and is quite good, although she still describes herself as the apprentice. (Her interest in woodworking faded when she got a new computerized sewing machine, but she still understands and occasionally helps.) Obviously all those years of working together, and the countless New Yankee Workshop and Woodworks TV shows, and the issues of Fine Woodworking and other publications, have had an impact.
Many of our early furniture projects were for family or friends, but other people admired our work, and have asked us to build furniture for them. We enjoyed the variety and challenge of fulfilling other people's dreams. Jenny, as a CPA, still works as the chief financial officer of numerous small companies, but Charlie is doing woodworking "most" of the time.
We would be happy to meet with you any time to establish your requirements. You may work with us day, nights, or weekends. You will always have our personal attention, not a receptionist. Our backlog (before we could start a new project) has varied between a few weeks and six months, but there has always been a backlog since Charlie started woodworking "full time." When you are ready to commit to the project, we will commit to your "place in line," based on our backlog at that moment.
Our preference is building heirloom-quality furniture from solid hardwoods or veneers. Of course "heirloom quality" and "entertainment center" or "built in bookcase" don't make sense together - we can also work with furniture grade plywood when appropriate, using comparable high quality hand construction techniques. In fact, good plywood can be part "heirloom-quality" furniture - there are a number of advantages of plywood. We are not interested in building economy furniture - factories can mass-produce items with man-made materials, better and cheaper than we can. See the frequently asked questions for more on furniture grades and the choices you have. To give you an idea of the potential cost, this web site shows the price we would charge with today's material costs to reproduce previous projects.
Some of the special requests we have received involve large pieces or large sets of pieces. My shop is small, so I cannot take on large projects like a house or kitchen full of cabinets. I am getting older (is that good news or bad?) so I will no longer take on projects where a single component weighs more than 75-100 pounds. Of course, the drawers come out of a chest of drawers, for example, so no single component is over that weight limit.
We don't have a showroom. Most of our recent work has been delivered to others, so we don't even have that much to show you at our home (you know the story of shoes for the cobbler's children). But we do love to talk about woodworking and show what we have and our workshop, which is in our home. If you would like to visit, let us know by telephone (512-349-0740) or e-mail to Charlie@Plesums.com. Click here for driving directions to our home.
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