Almost everything in that picture is prefabricated — the only thing that isn’t is the classical ogee crown backer that we made in the shop.” Quite an admission from a master craftsman custom woodworker and cabinetmaker. But for Chip Yawney, owner of A Cut Above LLC, Custom Woodworking & Design, Jessup, MD, use of prefabricated components — in this case sourced from La Crosse, WI-based WalzCraft — was very practical in this two-room Springdale Estates office in Clarksville, MD. “Clearly you can see how much prefabricated componentry is in there,” says Yawney. “I built the cabinet boxes and made the crown backer and shelving — largely this was a prefabricated project.”

The wood-paneled office redoubt, complete with wet bar and entertainment center, and fully wired for sound, reflects Yawney’s special expertise at custom design, integrating electronics, and seamlessly blending wood parts made in his shop with prefabricated components. “My strategy is outsourcing what makes sense and buying and hiring when that makes sense,” he says. Yawney is also very good at listening to the customer and translating those discussions into plans.

 
A wood-paneled redoubt with wainscot, fluted mouldings and half columns and carefully
concealed electronics —A Cut Above Woodworks’ specialty. Photos by Imagine That Studios.
 
For this wet bar, Yawney built the over and under
cabinets from custom plans.

“This project was hand drawn — all the wall elevations, floor plans, wood panels, all hand dimensions to fit,” says Yawney. “It took me the better part of a half a day to nail everything down. It’s wall-to-wall cherry.” Cabinets, wood wainscot, fluted mouldings, crown moulding, fluted half columns under the TV, the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, baseboard — all came from WalzCraft, as did the door casings and window casings.

“The client sourced his own marble, and I built the cabinetry and crown backer,” says Yawney. His finisher hand-applied a cordovan stain matched to a WalzCraft cordovan by his finishing supplier. The entire project is top coated with pre-catalized lacquer.

Yawney works mostly by hand, with one other full-time employee. “We use a lot of machine tools,” he says, including a Powermatic planer and jointer, a sliding table saw, two Delta shapers, and a 9-hp SCMi shaper. “The key is to make everything match and maintain control of the quality.”

Wall to Wall Wood
The two-room office spaces measured about 12 by 14 feet and 11 by 17 feet, and plans included a wet bar and media center. “We incorporated the wiring for the speakers and the video. . . I tend to get a lot of media business because I am willing to tackle the details involved with media components,” says Yawney. He was a sales director for electronics giant Lucent Technologies before changing careers, in a path that will be familiar to many:

“I was a hobbyist. . .I’ve always been handy. I like woodworking. I bought some rental properties and really enjoyed doing the trim work. I bought some consumer grade equipment, put together a woodshop in my basement — but then I heard an exec on CNBC advise, ‘Do what you want and you will never work another day in your life.’” Yawney made the leap and hasn’t looked back.

“The majority of my business is in three categories: home offices or work areas; media cabinetry; and libraries. Media cabinetry is by far the largest,” he says. Two workers helped on the project, Aiming at upscale projects, Yawney says, “People who want real wood won’t settle for anything but the best. There are many clients who want it economy style…and I do a nice job on that too…but my target market is top quality libraries, home offices and media cabinetry.” (Visit acutabovewoodworks.com