Four memorable projects in reproduction and restoration preserve the past.

 

Historic Churchill Downs is among the featured landmarks to recently undergo restoration.

In a woodworking industry currently hurting from a housing slump, one segment of the field seems to be holding up well, and that is restorations. From the east to the west, north and south, many woodworkers have found that renovation/restorations can be a specialty to focus their business on or a lucrative sideline. Restoring old buildings, often with important historical links, gives these workers a feeling of pride in knowing they have helped maintain an appreciation of history in an ever-changing world. Exhibiting meticulous craftsmanship, these projects remind the public of the dedication, skills and attention to detail that woodworkers showed in previous times, while proving that this high level of work still exists today.

But what are the challenges facing those who engage in restoration work? How are these types of projects priced? What percentage of overall business are restoration jobs for these firms? Is it really possible to earn a profit, or must historical restoration work simply be a labor of love for the business owner?

We posed these questions to four woodworking firms from across the United States, all of whom have been involved in recent restoration projects, and learned that while reproduction and restoration can make up a relatively large portion of a company’s business, it can also be a very small, but rewarding part of another’s.

Challenges faced by these businesses include everything from: providing high customer satisfaction; replicating the old styles accurately; matching older styles with modern ones; using older materials when possible, working with antiquated structures; getting all parties involved on the same page; outsourcing; governmental red tape; matching design vision with the realities involved; limited space; safety; and of course, the never-ending deadlines presented by time itself.

The clock is ticking away, and the plain fact is that most older buildings may be lost to the rushing onset of progress. But for those buildings that survive, gifted woodworkers will be there to restore them for the public to use and enjoy as long as they can.

Down to the Wire

Kentucky Millwork had to race against time to complete this landmark renovation and an addition to Churchill Downs’ stately clubhouse.

 

Shades of the Old West

An Idaho moulding company creates an Old West-themed steakhouse.

 

Rebuilding the Basilica

When it was decided to restore Baltimore’s famed Basilica, John Franz stepped in to recreate the original furniture.

 

Rising From the Ashes

New Orleans looks to the past for inspiration as it rebuilds from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

 


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