By Rubin E. Grant
Ben Foy had bounced around from job to job for several years. Less than two years ago, he was working for a grocery store, putting in long hours and sometimes not getting home until after midnight.
“It took a toll on me,” Ben said.
About the same time, Ben’s dad, Preston Foy, was looking to expand his woodworking business, Urgent CareFurniture Repair.
Even though Preston’s day job is being co-owner of Wallace Burke Jewelry along with David Hezlep in downtown Homewood, where they do extensive jewelry repair and custom designs, woodworking has been a passion of Preston Foy’s for many years.
“I have been doing it as a hobby since I was 12 years old,” Preston said. “I took an old bookshelf, got my dad’s handy man books and figured it out that way. I sanded it down, varnished it and refinished it.
“I’ve always done things like that. I’m not a cabinet maker or table maker. I take something that someone has given up on and give it new life.”
Preston’s hobby spilled over to his son, who also took up woodworking as a pastime.
“I spent a lot of time growing up tinkering with furniture and woodworking,” Ben said.
Preston had done plenty of woodworking projects for his friends, so he decided to do it as a side business, and now Ben has joined him in that endeavor.
“The last year, year and a half, I have been doing it with my son,” Preston said. “It’s a part-time thing but something we enjoy doing. It’s most enjoyable to be able to work with him.”
The feeling is mutual.
“It’s great working with my dad,” Ben said. “I am trying to make a career out of it and it’s pretty exciting.”
After leaving the grocery store, Ben spent some time honing his woodworking skills.
“I worked with a guy in Bessemer to get more polished,” Ben said. “He was a furniture guy and taught me a lot about refinishing. Last fall, my father had a lot of work and asked me to help him.
“I have a great supportive wife, and this came at the right time with everything that’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic.”
Customers drop off pieces of furniture in disrepair at the jewelry store and the father and son go to work on restoring it. Some of the repair work is done at the jewelry store and some at Preston’s woodworking workshop at his home.
“I enjoy taking something people have given up on, whether it has scratches and blemishes, or it’s broken, lying in pieces or in shambles, and bringing it back to life, restoring it,” Preston reiterated. “If a dog chews the leg on a coffee table and one spouse is upset, they bring it to us and we make it go away. We’ve saved a lot of pets that way,” he added with a laugh.
Preston does most of the structural work and Ben does the refinishing. “He calls me an artist because I can cover anything and finish anything,” Ben said.
“The only way you can do woodworking is to keep doing it and keep doing it until you get it right,” Preston said. “You have to get the colors and stains right. Ben’s got a gift for it. He blends colors. On the first try nine out of 10 times, he gets it right. It usually takes me two or three different tries.”
The Foys stay busy, usually working on several projects at time.
“Currently, I’m finishing a low-back desk, redoing some cabinet doors and putting a 150-year-old hall tree back together,” Preston said. “It goes on and on. I do a lot of broken legs on chairs. It’s difficult to do, but we do it.
“We take family heirlooms that are broken or heavily scratched and make it presentable again so folks can pass it on to their grandchildren.”
That’s the part Ben enjoys the most.
“What’s rewarding about it is you see new challenges with different furnitures,” Ben said. “A lot of furniture that’s been disfigured people want to pass it on the next generation and we take care of it for them.
“When the people see it, they are excited, happy and emotional, and ask, ‘How did you do that?’ Every piece of furniture is different and it’s different how you fix it. I like doing a good job.”
For more information about Urgent CareFurniture Repair call (205) 746-1274.