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Southwest Orange Friday, May 6, 2016 4 years ago

Horizon West handywoman crafts custom, high-quality wood furniture

Frankie Orozco makes solid-wood pieces of furniture from her garage in Horizon West.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

HORIZON WEST  Most women collect handbags, shoes or makeup, but handywoman Frankie Orozco collects drills and tools.

It all started with making changes to her house, such as knocking out a wall in the kitchen and transforming it into an open breakfast-bar area. A year ago, when she was looking for a rolling cart for her daughters’ bathroom and couldn’t find a reasonably priced one anywhere, she took it upon herself to make one.

“I’ve always done stuff around the house — my brother’s a contractor, so I think it runs in the blood,” she said. “I had friends wanting (carts), and my daughter said, ‘Why don’t you post this in one of the Facebook pages?’ Within the first day, I had nine orders for that cart.” 

Orozco takes pure wood — usually pine — and can transform it into just about anything. She can make just about any style of table — dining tables, egg tables and sofa tables among them — as well as various benches, wall trimmings, deck chairs and wood cutouts.

After her craftsmanship took off, her oldest daughter made her a Facebook page to display her projects and feature things she’d made around the house. They titled the page “That Woodshop Gal.” Little by little, Orozco would take orders based on what she is capable of doing — now, she’s working on pieces she never planned to make. From there, word of mouth spread of Orozco’s work, and what started as a hobby is now also a workout and a way to help support her oldest daughter through college.

“I’ve always had a knack for looking at something and knowing how it’s put together,” she said. “YouTube is your friend. I followed other ladies who did stuff like that and was always a huge fan of these sites. I started following plans and then started doing my own. Most cases I can look at a piece and just know that this is how it’s put together.”

Frankie Orozco uses natural, clean, untreated wood to build tables, benches and more out of her garage in Horizon West.

On average, Orozco works on two to three pieces at a time. Most projects take about two to three weeks from start to finish. Clients message her asking about a particular piece, and she gives them an estimate based on measurements and finish. Orozco then discusses the piece further with clients, from details ranging to where in the house the piece will go to what colors are in that room, so she can ensure they will end up with a piece that works for them.

Once details are finalized, Orozco provides clients with a work order, collects a deposit and schedules the start and finish dates for the piece. Then, she gathers the materials she’ll need — the wood, hardware and stains or finishes — and gets to work. For materials, she goes to Lowe’s and carefully pick out each piece of wood. She goes in and sorts through the wood slab by slab, sliding pieces on the floor to inspect them for warps. By now, the employees at Lowe’s know her well.

“I’ve always had a knack for looking at something and knowing how it’s put together. YouTube is your friend.… I started following plans and then started doing my own.”— Frankie Orozco

“I started with a little 10-inch saw, and it’s amazing how every week I‘ve found the need for a new tool,” she said. “I go into Lowe’s and the guys go, ‘Come here, let me show you this, we just got it in!’ I used to just go raid my brother’s van or his garage.”

The process itself is lengthy, especially when it comes to sanding, which is done in phases. The wood is cut, shaped, sanded, assembled and sanded again before the final stain is applied. Although it takes a while to get the piece ready to go, Orozco said the best part is pushing herself and seeing the final project come together.

“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and working with wood, sometimes it’s not perfect so I can get a bit frustrated when the pieces don’t turn out exactly how I want,” she said. “It’s not just about taking an order — it’s about getting it right. It’s fun, I love doing it. My husband gets a big kick out of it, and he’s my biggest fan. I love when people send me something of what they want, and seeing people get so excited over their piece.”


Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].

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