Paul Szewc (pronounced Chefz) showed an interest in woodworking at the early age of 13. His first woodworking project was a set of salt & pepper shakers which are prominently displayed in the Gallery. When his teacher handed back the projects to the students after marking, the teacher stood at the front of the class with Paul’s project in hand and proceeded to tell the class that, “We are among Greatness!” This moment of recognition and inspiration propelled Paul’s career in woodworking. He graduated from the Manufacturing and Wood Technology Program at Conestoga College in 1984.
Paul started building kitchens and student chairs for the University of Guelph. His workspace was his garage, but sometimes work spilled over into the living room. The day he used his planer in the bedroom, his wife, Sandra, wanted the woodworking tools out of the house! In 1997, he constructed a 2,400 square foot workshop behind his home in the country, just outside of Guelph, Ontario. He decided to open his own business and called it Paul Szewc Company, building custom kitchens. People had a hard time pronouncing the name, so he changed the company name to Masterpiece Cabinets, named after Masterpiece Theatre.
Business boomed until the fall of 2001 and a change in the business climate gave Paul an opportunity to pursue a different side of woodworking—building furniture. Referring to his Fine Woodworking books for ideas, he came up with Knock-Down-Book Cases and Kite Tables, which were shown for the first time at the Guelph Home Show. Around the same time, he came up with the idea for his original Crazy Design and signature Round-Cornered Keys. He implemented this Crazy Design in a series of cutting boards and after an instant sales success at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, decided to create more wood art, earning him the new title of Wood Artist. The Wonkies, both mini and large dresser styles, were born shortly thereafter; the Mini Wonky Family currently consists of six different styles and they live in 21 countries worldwide.
Paul’s workshop boasts production of one-of-a-kind furniture pieces (dining room tables, chairs, stools, casual tables), superior quality wooden game boards, a multitude of styles of wood boxes that suit every taste and situation, and a line of kitchen cutting boards and utensils. Paul’s creativity is endless—his regular clientele marvel at the new products that are for sale in the Gallery.