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Downtown Businesses, Interviews, Meet the Artist

Ed from Classical Services: A Master of of a Dying Craft

I have never met Ed from Classical Services in person. But after seeing photos of the amazing work he does, I would like to meet him. He sent me an e-mail saying he loved Re-Discover Washington’s Facebook page, I offered to interview him for the blog, and a couple of e-mails later this is what we’ve got for you! Enjoy the interview with Ed from Classical Services, a local businessman who does some stunning work!

What is it exactly you do?

I make things that people want. I understand this sounds overly simplistic, but that’s the basis of what I do. I make things to fit the customers specifications, instead of buying cookie cut whatever. I use old time tried and true construction & jointery with the advantage of modern adhesives and equipment, to build to the highest quality possible. I build whatever the customer desires.

 Is a Cherry aquarium stand & cases. The aquarium was so large the contractor had to cut a huge hole in the foundation to get it in.

A Cherry aquarium stand & cases Ed built. The aquarium was so large the contractor had to cut a huge hole in the foundation to get it in.

I use any species of wood, any type of finish. For exterior projects I use Azek, or if the customer prefers a weather resistant species of wood such as Honduras Mahogany, Sapele, or Spanish Cedar.

Being a small shop I’ve learned that being flexible is paramount, I can change gears and go from a Cherry aquarium stand to hundred of Azek parts overnight. I’m very versatile, I’m unique in this industry in that I take on projects that other shops don’t want to deal with. I guess it comes down to the fact that I make whatever the customer wants.

 Is some of our Azek work, this was the first of 5 large crates going to Martha's Vineyard MA.

Some of Ed’s Azek work. This is one of five large crates going to Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

When did you first became interested in woodworking?

I guess that goes back to when I was 5-6 years old, my dad was always making or fixing things around the house. So naturally I had to watch what was going on. I don’t know why or where it came from, but I’ve always had insane urge, more like need to make or create things. Dad had some wood and tools so I just started making things. Mostly trash but I felt like I was making something.

Eventually I bought a bunch of my own tools, made things for myself and friends. Then it all went crazy and turned it into a full time business.

Is the first picture of a table, it goes from a 5' square to a 7' round.

A table Ed built, that goes from from a 5′ square to a 7′ round.

That table opened on 2 sides.

The same table, opened on 2 sides. What a great space saver!

How long have you been in business?

I’ve been in business for over 25 years and I love what I do.

What’s the most interesting project you have completed?

There have been a lot of interesting projects. But I guess it would have to be the bar we built for a customer here in Washington. He didn’t have much in the way of drawings or plans, but he could see what he wanted in his mind. We spent a lot of time talking about the kind of things he liked and didn’t like. It took about 8 months start to finish, but we ended up with a very happy customer. Everything about this bar is custom.

Custom built bar

Custom built bar for a customer in Washington – Ed put in lots of work, and the result is outstanding.

The mirror is carved and etched on the back depicting a scene at the owners farm. The deer carving in the front panel was done at the owner’s tool and mold shop. The wood is kind of unique in that it is knotty Missouri Walnut, very difficult and unforgiving to work with. Elevation radius crown custom made by Wahles Woodworks, goes into a palladium  miter. The elbow rail has radius corners to eliminate sharp corners on the outside and make cleaning on the inside easier than a sharp corner. We partnered with our good friends at WS Woodturning, Union, MO to make the corners. One of the main design concepts of the bar was to make the “bartender” feel like he was sitting with his guest instead of  standing behind the bar. We made that work with our design. The bar also contains 4 refrigerator drawers, ice maker, trash compactor, and all the AV equipment in a ventilated case. This is the kind of project that really defines “custom”. You can’t go to the store and buy something like this. In order to build what the customer wants we need to think like them, understand exactly what they want.

A beautiful mantel by Classical Services.

A beautiful mantle by Classical Services.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a kitchen pantry unit. Customer wanted to incorporate a lot of things into not that large of a space, but we’re doing it. It will have 2 hanging file drawers, a linen drawer, a wine rack, storage for sheet pans and decorative trays, walnut countertop for TV and printer, shelves above for cook books, doors above that to “hide” things. We will make it possible!

When my son & I picked this piece up he laughed at me all the way to the shop.He wanted to know what we're going to do with it, I told him we are going to make it look new. Granted when we picked it up it looked like we found a bunch of junk on the side of the road. However we managed to restore it to it's original glory.

When Ed and his son picked this piece up, his son laughed at him all the way to the shop. Ed told him they were going to make it look like new. Granted when they picked it up it looked like they found a bunch of junk on the side of the road. However they managed to restore it to its original glory.

Is custom-made furniture affordable?

I think affordable is a relative term. I can go to American Bounty or Hawthorne Inn with my wife and have an amazing dinner with tremendous attention from the staff. Worth it? Yes! Affordable? That’s a different story. A bunch of folks can’t afford them or places like me. From a price standpoint  I can’t begin to compete with places like Lowes or chain furniture stores. If we throw value and quality into the equation then the tables are turned. We build to last! We build based on what the customer wants or needs, we use the highest quality materials available. With furniture, mantles, and such we build one at a time not thousands in China. I hate this instant gratification, disposable society we have become, go grab it then throw it away in 5-10 years.

I stand behind every thing we make, if I’m not proud of it, it doesn’t go out the door.

Is a kneeler at the shrine of St. Mary at the new cathedral in St. Louis.Thanks

The kneeler at the shrine of St. Mary at the new cathedral in St. Louis, made by Classical Services.

How do people find you?

The majority of our business comes from repeat customers, word of mouth from past customers. Our web site has generated some business across the country as well.

If I didn’t already say it, our big thing is we are detail oriented. That’s just what we do, how we operate. I believe it’s the little things that make a big difference.

 Is an 1849 farm house in Michigan, so far we have shipped around 1200 pieces to replicate the original.

This is an 1849 farm house in Michigan, currently being restored. So far Classical Services have shipped around 1200 pieces to replicate the original.

Some of the pieces needed for the project.

Some of the pieces made for the project.

All photos in this blog post are property of Classical Services.

The easiest way to reach Classical Services is through their website. You can call or e-mail Ed at 636.388.6889 or ed@thespeedofwood.com.

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

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