Andres Schneiter was a longtime wooden-furniture hobbyist before he decided to devote himself to the pursuit full time. Photograph by Jason Payne. Who hasn't gone to a home show looking for the new and arresting, but come away more impressed with the tried and true -- work by men and women like craftsman Andres Schneiter.

When he was a university student learning about industrial design in Switzerland, his instructors subjected Schneiter to strict discipline: Papers had to be stacked neatly, tools put away.

Vises (the type mounted to work tables to hold projects in place) not only had to be dialed back to their proper positions, but all the handles had to be aligned at a 90-degree angle to the floor.

The training in proper processes would serve him well through a 25-year career in telecommunications. Schneiter had already been a longtime hobbyist when it came to making wooden furniture, but he decided to devote himself to the pursuit full time after the telecom industry crashed in the early 2000s.

The workshop on his expansive Maple Ridge, B.C., property is scrupulously clean, warm with the heat emanating from a stove burning otherwise unusable pieces of scrap. Wood is carefully sorted according not only to size and type (maple, pine, oak), but right down to the tree it came from. That allows him to match the grain of the pieces for his furniture.

He points to a massive combination hutch and sewing desk, meant for a seamstress client in Europe. "See how the pattern matches exactly on those drawers there? I sacrificed an entire sheet of wood to do that."

There is also a massive vertical slice of a tree, fitted on one corner with a slab of blue slate to replace an area where the wood had rotted away. The entire thing had to be hand-planed, since there aren't any machines that would fit such a huge piece. Intended to form a tabletop, the piece weighs 360 kilograms.

In another corner is a piece with a twist on the traditional look of a dining table: The table top is French oak, and the 'legs' holding it up are glass. Tucked away in another corner are two sawn-off lengths of hazelnut tree trunk, burled in an unusual pattern. He's turned them into lamps.

"I only take trees that would have to go anyway -- maybe part of the tree is sick, or the lot is being developed. A lot of the developers around here call me before they cut anything down," Schneiter explains.

"I can create an exactly matching dining room suite from one tree. Very few other woodworkers have that kind of access to the trees."

He uses traditional methods of joinery and marquetry to bring out the natural beauty of the wood, eschewing nails unless absolutely necessary.

He understands why people buy mass-produced furniture -- maybe it's what they can afford at the time, or maybe they're looking to pick up something quickly -- but says custom furniture is worth the price.

"It's a special piece. Maybe it fits an odd-sized alcove in your home, or you want it to match something specifically. Some people want a coffee table that makes a statement. It looks like a piece of art."

Word of mouth and his website -- helps to bring in a lot of business, Schneiter says. But in the long run, he believes the best selling point of his work is showing prospective clients what he can do. Custom craftsmanship always trumps everything else out there, he says.