Master Furniture Refinisher
In a consumer culture where people often choose lower-quality disposable furniture over handcrafted wood pieces, it might seem like wood furniture repair and refinishing services are part of a dying tradition. Master Furniture Repair & Refinishing Ltd.’s new owner, Rick Conklin, wants residents, business owners and visitors in Edmonton and surrounding areas to understand that this isn’t the case. Wood furniture restoration is making a comeback. Consumers have started to realize that wood furniture lasts longer and far exceeds in value similar cheaply-made disposable items. Master Finisher Steve Wheeler, who has more than 40 years of restoration experience under his belt, retains a solid presence at the shop and has no plans to retire yet. He has also taken Rick on as an apprentice so that a new generation can carry the knowledge and skills of this art form into the future.
A Rich History Founded on Persistence, Dedication and Excellence
Master Furniture has been a valued Edmonton institution since the late 1960’s. A young Steve Wheeler joined the business under the Schenk’s family brand name after he began his career as a furnace painter and cabinet finisher. In 1968, after Casey and Ted Schenk initially refused to hire Steve, they changed their minds after he convinced them of his woodworking passion. As the decades passed, Steve’s dedication became evident with his growing skills and high-quality results. Today, Steve is a shining example of a consummate woodcraft artist who makes his own refinishing “shines,” handles traditional and modern tools with deftness and shows his respect for the trust that people place in him with an unwavering attention to detail.
Master Furniture Refinisher
Rick’s story starts with entrepreneurship–a family tradition emphasized by his grandfather who owned a moving company in the 1950’s. Rick followed in his grandfather’s footsteps to own two moving companies that he has since sold but that continue to enjoy excellent local brand recognition. Rick discovered his woodworking calling approximately 10 years ago when he brought in a piece of fine furniture for Steve to repair: “Within a short period of time he had sanded, repaired, color matched and added the finish,” explains Rick. “I was impressed. The only telltale [sign] that the repair had been done was the absence of an intricate gold inlay that ran down the length of the piece. I thanked him for the work–more than happy with the repair. Steve then held up his finger and walked away, returning with his artist brush and gold paint. After eyeing it up and down he very delicately applied the gold to match to perfection.”
Steve’s skills and artistry impressed Rick so much that he continued to bring Steve furniture and even set up his own fabricating shop where he honed skills in designing, prototyping and fabricating items utilizing wood, metal, plastics, fiberglass, leathers, webbing and lighter materials. Steve eventually became Rick’s mentor and friend. Rick, who had been fascinated by woodworking as a child, took each lesson to heart to create fantastic pieces for himself and others. After a sports injury, Rick decided to use his free time to learn more and eventually gained employment at a woodworking company. When Steve called him in May to tell him that owners wanted to sell the shop, Rick realized that it was too great an opportunity to pass up: “I did not hesitate,” explains Rick. “I am very excited to be working side by side with my mentor and look forward to the years to come.”
Reclaiming the Past: The People Who Seek Craftsmanship
Homeowners like Cary and Nancy Dougherty in Louisiana are a great example of one type of people who help guarantee the continuation of the wood furniture restoration tradition. As featured in “The Advocate,” the couple are fine art and antique collectors who focus primarily on stunning 18th-century furniture from England and Scotland. Over the years, they have had to seek out repair and refinishing services from master finishers to help them preserve their natural wood pieces. For serious collectors, art dealers, weekend “antiquers,” historians, interior designers, movers and many others, the skill of a master finisher means the difference between a piece falling apart at the seams from age-related deterioration…or looking its best for a lifetime.
Bringing Together the Old and the New
Anyone who has questions or a piece of furniture that needs care is welcome at Master Furniture Repair & Refinishing Ltd. Rick has invested himself fully in this master/apprentice relationship and the business: “The shop had a major face-lift with new benches and tools,” explains Rick, “but offers the same great service.” Rick and his team also supply more than antique restoration services. They restore modern furniture made with a wide range of materials and even offer custom design and build services.
If you are looking for quality old world craftsmanship, then Contact Rick at Master Furniture Repair and Refinishing … make it your place to call or visit.