Interview with Calvin Freeman and Andrew Philp

Article by Michelle Heslop. Photos by Jody Beck.

How long have you been in business?
Andrew Philp: I was working closely with a carpentry mentor when I decided to start my own business, AP Woodworks. I was only 23 years old at the time, and in February, 2019 it will be a decade since I began. I’ve been so busy, a decade has flown by. Looking back, I feel fortunate to have developed the many great relationships as well as the opportunities to work on many creative projects along the way. Calvin Freeman is now a partner at AP Woodworks.

How did you two meet? Calvin and I have known each other since high school where we met through Calvin’s cousin — she had organized a few surfing trips to Tofino, where Calvin and I first connected. But it wasn’t until he blindsided me in PE Flag Football that I really got to know him, and he’s been frustrating me ever since. He officially joined AP Woodworks while pursuing a Fine Arts degree at UVic and we decided to partner with the goal of growing the business.

Where does AP Woodworks fit within the broad spectrum of woodworking? We consider ourselves finish carpenters. Specifically, we are an on-site team that does everything from installing doors and trim to staircases and mantels, as well as any on-site millwork.

What is your approach to woodworking? If great design is timeless, so must be the execution and finished product of that design. For me, the most important tenet of woodworking is that both the materials and the installation stand the test of time — cutting corners during finishing work becomes apparent very quickly. We are a small team of woodworkers and we take pride in the practices we employ, but our on-site adaptability is also a pride point — we believe in remaining open to evolution and change in our applications.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Instagram. Ha! The excess of woodworking ideas on social media certainly has its genius and its pitfalls, but we’ve definitely relied on it to learn a trick or two. And also from Dwayne, an old-school-stair-installer-turned-cabinet-maker, who we often work with at Philco Construction. He is a legend to us. When one of us is stuck on an issue, we often joke, “what would ol’ Dwayne do?”

Stairways appear to be one of your specialties. Are there any other areas where AP Woodworks really shines? Staircases have certainly become a hallmark for us and we’re quite proud of that, but I think we excel at our client/builder relations, which you might say is the result of having a team with great personality and character. We have a skilled group of woodworkers for certain, but problem-solving and adapting to the many changes through the course of construction (all while having a smile on your face) is what we’re about — we all work together on the tools and its a generally a pretty light atmosphere when we’re on the job site.

You do a lot of work with builders and designers. How do you make their lives easier? Communicate. Our goal is to have a thorough discourse from the beginning and to always maintain that open dialogue throughout the build so that there is no margin for misinterpretation. We have some amazing builders and designers in this city and we truly appreciate their work, so we see it as our obligation to honour their creative concepts by opening clear channels of communication and executing the work to their true intent.

What does your ideal Sunday look like? My ideal Sunday includes hitting one of Fairfield’s hottest parks (local park game, strong) with my wife and our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Avery, a coffee in hand, which would promptly be replaced by a caesar (extra beans, of course). Seriously though, just as much outdoor time as possible, whether it be our backyard, the beach or the park — you don’t need to go far in this city to find beauty and fun things to do.

What is the best part of being a woodworker?
Calvin Freeman: As finishing carpenters, we arrive at a stage where the interior space is still very much a blank canvas: primer white walls, darkened rooms, and only a sense of what’s to come. As we begin our work, and other second stage trades arrive (flooring, painting, electrical, plumbing), the build develops around us and you really get a feel for the final product. Working within an ever- improving environment, and one which becomes more and more unique each day, is an inspiring place to be.

What is your most coveted tool? 12 oz. Klean Kanteen insulated travel mug, purchased and serviced at the Parsonage Cafe. Once operational, it never fails to bring a smile to my face and seems to aid in every task throughout my day.

Are there any recent trends in home design that impact your day-to-day? Definitely, the blended modern/ transitional style that has been popularized over the past five years. It brings a heavy emphasis on clean lines and simple applications which demand precise work. A flat-stock mitre can be much harder to perfect than one with many ornate features where any small degree of error is pronounced immediately when paint is applied.

I hear you’re the on-site DJ. What’s on your current playlist? We listen to a lot of different music, depending on the site and to-do list for the day. For the most part, there is a lot of older style country, like George Jones and Wayne Hancock, with a healthy dose of Tragically Hip. Drew also likes AC/DC, which is unfortunate. Then it’s CBC Radio One during lunch.