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Installing Custom Woodworking in Your Home: An Interview with Rob Shea of Rob Shea Carpentry LLC

By Rob Shea

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

Rob Shea Carpentry, LLC was originally started as a sole proprietorship focusing mainly on smaller renovations, decks, and repair work. As the company has grown, the scope of our work has also increased. Currently we do new-construction builds, additions, and renovations of any size. We are with our clients: framing right through to the finish paint. If we are not at a job site, you can find us building furniture, working on cabinets, or building any number of project specific pieces in my shop. Recently we have been getting out of the wood shop to build stone walls. The stone work has been a nice addition to the repertoire and melds well with our other construction projects.

Can you describe what custom woodworking is, for people who may not know?

Custom woodwork is exactly that: carpentry jobs customized to accommodate the needs of a specific client. In life, all people are different and the same goes for jobs in building. The ability to build a wall, a ceiling, or a piece of furniture so that it fits a clients specific taste is important. Custom woodwork could be something as small as a bench designed to fit by your wood stove or as large as an entire house where we customize the build to make a client's dream become a reality.

What are the most common things in a home that people want custom wood products for?

When I go into a client's home and to discuss a future project, we commonly find "wasted" space. These awkward spots, present in many homes, can be transformed into usable space with some creative thought. A built-in bench can turn a cramped kitchen table into a breakfast retreat. Strategically placed shelves in a closet transform a cluttered mess into the organized linen closet you have always wanted. Adding wainscoting to your dining room or molding in your living room are small changes that pack a big punch. A custom carpentry job should ultimately tie your room, or rooms, together creating the look and flow you desire.

What are some of the advantages of installing custom woodworking over ready-made products?

Ready-made products are great and we use lots of stock items in our builds when we can, but you are limited as to what you can do with these products and how they can fit a space. When we run into a space that does not allow for a stock cabinet, a built-in cabinet can be the perfect solution. Sometimes clients desire a specific look in a finished piece, which is also something that can be hard to achieve with a stock item.

Does custom woodworking require any special maintenance or care?

Wood is a living thing and it is important to keep that in mind when maintaining and caring for any of your wood products. Wood will expand and contract with the seasons: shrinking in the cold, dry winters and expanding in the hot, humid summers. Proper finishing prior to installation of wood, both indoors or out, is of utmost importance and this is something that we do to achieve longevity in our projects. As a homeowner, re-applying a finish- be it stain, paint, urethane, or mineral spirits is important but specific to the wood and its exposure to the elements. Cleaning your woodwork is generally the first line of defense against wear, just as washing your car helps to prolong the life of your paint job.

What advice would you give to homeowners who are starting to remodel/redecorate and want to install some custom woodworking?

For a homeowner who is about to embark on a renovation, addition, new build, or just wants to redecorate, I always suggest envisioning how the future space will be used. Backward design is a great way to tackle a project of this nature: think about the ultimate goal for the space so we can work together to achieve the desired result. Carpentry, and building in general, is an art form. Clients should be encouraged to work in collaboration with their carpenter to come up with the most fitting plan. The possibilities are seemingly endless and a good brainstorming session allows all parties involved to get on the same page to quickly narrow down the ultimate goal of the project- however large or small the job may be.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

The best way for people to contact my company is through email at robsheacarpentry@gmail.com. As a builder, my projects are not always in an area with reliable cell service.

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The smell of sawdust in the air or walking through a framed-out house still brings me...

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