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Pine World Antiques: restoration specialists.


Richard Howell's custom woodworking business has allowed him to combine his banking experience with his love for designing and producing furniture.

A native of England, Howell came to the United States eight years ago to work for Bank of America. "After 20 years in the banking and computer industry I wanted a change. That's when I formed Pine World Antiques," Howell explains. Thus, four years ago, he began operating out of a two-car garage. Now the business occupies a 9,000-square-foot shop in Pacheco, Calif.

Pine World Antiques makes pine furniture and store fixtures and also restores antiques. Howell patterned his operation after his brother's business in England and uses his U.K. contacts to locate antiques that he sells in a related import business, as well as a source for European woods for antique restorations. Howell says 90 percent of what he produces is pine, including sugar pine, Ponderosa pine, Old English pine, Scandinavian pine and wood from Russian forests. Some of the timber is 150 to 300 years old.

"We have used salvaged wood as well as wood dating back to the early Industrial Revolution. Old timbers can be labor intensive to reclaim because you have to remove old nails. Old wood is very dense; it weighs 100 percent more, for example, than new timber, and it usually has a much tighter grain pattern," Howell says. "You never know where a new source of old timber will come from. We were able to buy wood that was from 600-year-old trees toppled in a hurricane."

Other sources for old timber are floor boards from buildings. Reclaimed, they can be used for such things as the tops of servers. "It gives a warm, old look that fits in with reproduction styles and gives the look of age," he adds.

Career shift

Switching from a banking career with day-to-day work on computers to manufacturing furniture and restoring and selling antiques may seem like a drastic life change, but for Howell it gave him the chance to get back into wood-working, something he loved since he studied it in school in England. "I was taught woodworking 20 to 25 years ago and I always wanted to try my hand at it again."

Despite the recession, Howell is finding that his new business was an easy career shift well suited to his diverse talents. "I think we have weathered the recession because we are versatile here. In addition to custom furniture, we have expanded heavily into producing store fixtures. One retail chain may want 1,000 tables or I may have an order for 20 different products. I needed to upgrade my machinery in the shop to keep up with the changing aspects of our business."

And he has. In the last year, Howell has purchased a lot of new machinery, all of it from SCMI, including the SI 16 sliding table saw and the SI 16W, a sliding table saw with a wider, longer table. "One has a long sliding bed and the other a short table. The long one is used to cut large panels and tops and gives us the support a heavy piece needs. The other is used for the smaller parts. Both have been used every day with no problems and they give us the versatility we need and are extremely accurate," Howell says.

Another new machine is the SCMI S 63 planer, a 24-inch planer that "gets the most use in our workshop - virtually all day, every day. It is extremely accurate whether running thick or thin material. It is an excellent addition to our work force and has proven itself to be a great time-saving machine. We run it continuously with no problems in changeovers. We dial in the exact thickness to one hundredth of an inch."

Still another SCMI machine at work at Pine World Antiques is the T 130 shaper which was bought to "upgrade the facility for tenoning work."

PHOTO : Pine World Antiques builds pine furniture and store fixtures and restores anttiques. Several new SCMI machines were purchased during the past year to keep up with business.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:company profile
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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