Furniture repairman brings old wood to life – Baltimore Sun
Dwight Womer is a craftsman and furniture repairer. He owns Willard Furniture Services in Westminster.
The woman has always loved art. He loves abstract painting. His aunt encouraged him to pursue it, but he never did.
“I had too much fun being a teenager,” Womer said. “I also loved building things by taking wood and putting things together when I was younger. I really got started when I attended Hereford High School and took the carpentry shop. My greatest pride and possession is the trestle table I made for my mother. I started my freshman year and finished my senior year because the kids were fighting over electrical equipment. She had it for 45 years. It is now a heritage piece. I made it from a photo from an Ethan Allen catalog.
When he graduated from high school, Womer applied to southern furniture makers in hopes of becoming an apprentice.
My idea of building furniture was a cabinet maker in Williamsburg and having a little shop like that, but that didn’t work for me, so I became a carpenter,” he said. “At least I could take care of the wood.”
He continued to make furniture by salvaging and using all kinds of leftover wood. He built a small TV cabinet for his house and shelves. He also restored small pieces of furniture.
“Eventually I got into facility management because my body couldn’t do the building anymore,” Womer said. “At least I was inside and not outside in bad weather. I became an account manager for a housekeeping company and held various positions in senior living, long term care and rehabilitation. When COVID hit, the policy changes and rules and regulations were overwhelming. The pace was 120 miles per hour and I couldn’t keep up. My wife and I have decided that I should retire.
When Womer retired in 2020, he wanted to complete his Social Security. He decided to do furniture finishing and repair. Since then it has been busy.
He does hasty seats as well as beatings, splints.
“My first jobs were our kitchen chairs,” he said. “My stepdad took one and said he would never do it again, so I decided to do the rest. My friend Rick Barrick, who also makes armchairs, is my mentor. It’s tedious , it takes time and requires patience and concentration. It’s easy to mess up a pattern. It’s like crocheting. You notice it three rows later and have to rip it. I sit in front of the fireplace and do my beating and rush me.
Womer attends Westminster City Center Farmers Market, including holiday, winter and summer.
Womer also restored an Art Deco cedar chest.
“He was tackled and messy,” he said. “I took it apart. The veneer was fine, but it had some dents and bruises. I’m leaving those as part of the personality of the piece. I glued it back together.
“The trunk had different shades of wood, including red and brown mahogany and maple. It had a lot of personality. On the top there was a curved lip and I saw a French polish. The French polish is to apply a light coat of shellac to the part, then you take a rag in a ball with shellac in the rag, you put some denatured alcohol and rub it in a circle, it’s very nice This gives it depth and a smooth, glossy shine like a piano finish.
Womer also restored a mid-1800s chestnut rocking chair that was missing the rockers.
“When these rockers broke, they cut off the legs,” he said. “It happened to this chair. I could see where the rockers were. The rockers weren’t cut at the leg slot.
He had to recreate the toggles and add new channels to the legs. He had to recreate structural shards in the legs.
“The chair must have been in a barn for decades. It took 7.5 hours to clean it,” he said. “Once it was lightly sanded, I oiled it with Danish Oil, a polymerized linseed oil that is easy to use on interior wood.
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“I get a lot of repairs for recliners, but I don’t do electronics. I have a logical and analytical mind. I looked at what was there and fixed a loose bolt.
Womer said her 85-year-old stepfather sometimes helps her out, working in his two-car garage-turned-store.
“I call him my ‘sand man’. My projects all start with sanding. If you don’t do it right, the end product won’t be right.
“I am my own boss. What I’ve always enjoyed is seeing the progress until the end. What it looked like when I got it and what it looks like now. I love seeing how happy customers are when they see it. I won’t release a track unless it’s right and I’ll do whatever it takes to make it right.
Womer can be reached at [email protected] or 443-487-3910.
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. His column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.