A Renaissance Craftsman

As a designer, I can dream and draw up designs, specify product and finishes but without having someone to realize these drawings, I wouldn’t be able to make much of anything happen.

I’ve worked with Steve Neufeld of CDC Customs for years, and he is among our ‘go-to’ group of artisans for custom millwork pieces. There isn’t anything he can’t do (and I’ve tried to stump him). Steve always manages to realize my vision, often surpassing it.

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Most recently we worked together to create a custom bar top for a condo project in Vancouver. The client wanted a larger island but we were impeded by an elevator that couldn’t take a larger countertop slab. We turned to Steve to create a custom bar top in white oak veneer to sit above the island.

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Steve loves a ‘head-scratcher’ of a project, one that has him solve problems and figure out unique solutions to realizing a project. As a solo craftsman, not only are there challenges in creating a piece but the logistics of transport and installation as a one-man operation forces him to come up with solutions to problems none of us even knew existed.

This bar top, for example, had to be both light and strong. As it was a one-piece top and at over 8’ long, it couldn’t be built solid or it would never have been able to get into place. Steve built an airplane wing – of sorts – it’s called a torsion box and this solution made the piece possible.

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What’s great about working with Steve, along with his competency and talent, is that he genuinely gets excited about a new project. He has been working with wood since his grade 8 shop class, has been involved in trade work ever since and has been focusing on his business for the last 5 years – that’s to say he has built many things with wood! Nevertheless, when a new project comes his way, there’s always a new element about it that sparks his interest: whether it’s the species of wood, the way it needs to be put together or some new router profile he has to get (aka: a new toy!).

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Not only is Steve a talented craftsman but he also excels in landscape photography, taking photos in remote areas that few of us will ever be lucky enough to see first hand. We had one of Steve’s photos printed onto plywood for use in this Vancouver condo project, and love the way the two sides of this artist subtly come together in this space.

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We look forward to the next project with him and hope it’s another head-scratcher!

- Francesca