There’s no denying that Hirshfield’s employees are passionate about their work! There’s a reason why we refer to our team members as experts in paint, stain, window treatments and design – because they are! They love what they do and the products they work with. So when you ask their advice on painting, staining or any other DIY project, chances are they can speak from experience.
Today we want to introduce you to one of our employees who shows a true passion for her job and for the craft of refinishing furniture. Meet Megan:
Tell us a little about you:
I grew up on a farm in Millstadt, Illinois, a tiny town about 20 min southeast of St. Louis, MO. As a senior in high school, I had a very hard time deciding “what to do with my life,” but through a series of learning experiences and guidance and advice from others I have found my true passion as a furniture finisher.
How long have you worked at the Hirshfield’s store in Shakopee?
I’ve been with Hirshfield’s since June, so about a month and a half now.
Tell us a little more about how you discovered your love for finishing furniture?
Two years after enrolling in a four year university, I decided that that setting just wasn’t right for me. So I enrolled in a local tech college and earned my Associates Degree in Art. From there, I thought I wanted to go into Industrial Design, specializing in furniture, but much to my dismay, I realized that Industrial Design was a degree that involved a lot of time behind a computer, using CAD programs to design the furniture and making little models out of cardboard. I realized then that I didn’t want to design furniture, but that I wanted to give new life to the cast-off furniture I always saw at yard sales, flea markets and antique stores. I had no experience with woodworking or finishing and decided I would go to school to learn the trade and then open my own business.
I enrolled at Marc Adams School of Woodworking, the only school in the country that teaches hands-on woodworking and finishing techniques. I decided to complete their Masters in Woodworking Program, a program that takes most of their students years to complete, in just one summer.
I earned my Master’s of Woodworking in October 2010 and in August 2011, I moved up to Minnesota to earn my degree in Wood Finishing Technology at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, the only school in the country that offers this degree. The program covered everything about wood finishing, including color theory, spot repair,re-gluing, wood-shop, wood identification, furniture conservation, stripping, refinishing, upholstery, and furniture history and identification. We learned to efficiently use, take apart, and clean most types of spray guns, and how to make our own dyes and stains.
I graduated this past May, and since then I have been working at Hirshfield’s and am currently in the process of opening a furniture finishing shop in New Prague.
Do you have any favorite pieces of furniture you have refinished?
My favorite project I’ve done so far now sits in my dining room. As the final class project, students were to completely refinish a kitchen table and at least four chairs. I found a set in a barn that belonged to my aunt. It had been sitting in there unprotected for years. The finish on the table was missing and flaking off and was completely gone on most of the chairs. In class I hand stripped the table and chairs, re-stained them with a custom stain I made, sprayed them with shellac and then top-coated them with lacquer.
Do you have any favorite Hirshfield’s products that you like to use for these projects? Or any Hirshfield’s product you would like to try?
Since I’ve just started working at Hirshfield’s, and because my shop isn’t fully up and running yet, I haven’t really had a chance to use many Hirshfield’s products. But I am excited to use the wide variety of stains, sealers, glazes, toners and topcoats offered by Hirshfield’s and to then help my customers use them as well.
Any advice you can offer others who are also interested in refinishing furniture?
A smidgen of advice to future finishers, get the books Understanding Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner, and Understanding Wood by Bruce Hoadley. They were my textbooks in class and are very informative. I continue to re-read them even after class. If you are really serious about becoming a finisher attend, Dakota County Technical College. No where else in the country will you receive the same amount of knowledge, meet the same people or be exposed to more material than at this school!
Hirshfield’s is your local Minneapolis-St. Paul paint retailer. The paint experts at Hirshfield’s are here to help you with everything from window-treatments to paint colors. Hirshfield’s manufactures paint right here in Minneapolis.