As he crafts his furniture from maple wood, Andres Schneiter aims to make his pieces with as clean lines as possible so that it almost appears to float.

His designs look simple and to make them, he combines engineering and art.

But the simpler the piece of furniture, the more complicated it is to make, Schneiter said. When you can take nothing away from a piece, it's ready.

"Beauty lies in simplicity," Schneiter said.

After a long career as an electrical engineer in the telecom business, Schneiter is just happy to work away in his workshop in Maple Ridge, creating furniture and home décor pieces for clients in the Lower Mainland.

Schneiter spent the first 14 years of his life in Chile, but then moved to Switzerland, where his family was from. He did an engineering degree at Queens University but went back to Bern, Switzerland, to do an apprenticeship in industrial arts.

About 30 years ago, Schneiter came back to Canada and settled in Maple Ridge.

He worked in the telecom industry until 2001, when the industry took a nosedive and he was able to reassess his career and set out on a new path. He started building furniture full-time, and doesn't regret making the shift. Schneiter lives on a large property in east Maple Ridge.

Schneiter controls the entire production process from when a tree is felled -- which he sometimes does himself -- to the final surface details.

Some of the wood he uses is from his property or from around Maple Ridge.

When cut into pieces, each piece of wood is colour-coded and numbered for identification. The colour-coding indicates which pieces come from the same tree as Schneiter makes large pieces all from one tree for consistency.

The wood is placed in a shed on his property to dry for two to three years - ideal moisture content in furniture wood is eight to nine per cent, and the more slowly the wood dries, the more stable it is.

Schneiter also has a kiln he can dry wood in, a process which takes two or three months -- but he prefers air-dried wood which is more stable.

When the wood has the right moisture content, Schneiter joints and planes the boards and the maple wood is ready to be turned into furniture.

Maple is a medium-weight wood comparable to cherry and walnut. Schneiter said he likes the colour and weight of maple and what he can create from it - he is not into ornate carving or heavy, dark wood, but prefers clean lines and simplicity.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, Schneiter said he's always working -- but it beats the "corporate BS and all that nonsense" of his previous career, he said.

"When I see customers and they are very happy that's more rewarding," Schneiter said.

As his children were growing, working in the telecom industry provided a solid income.

"(Woodwork) is very rewarding -- but financially it's a struggle," he said. But, he added, it beats writing another technical report.

"I like to do what my heart likes to do and make nice lasting furniture," Schneiter said.

"I like that it's kind of a warm, living material, that you can work it easily, that you can create things of real beauty, Schneiter said about working with wood. "My website is like poetry. There's no limits to what you can create."

Andres Schneiter will be at the Spirit of Wood festival as an exhibitor. For more information on his company, go to