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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Pete Keigley stands in his 1,400-square-foot workshop. He retired and moved to Bella Vista from Iowa almost 20 years ago.

Pete Keigley likes people to touch his furniture. He encourages visitors to run their hands along the wood and enjoy the satiny finish. He works hard to get that finish.

When Keigley retired as a financial planner, he wasn't planning to start a new business. He had already had two successful careers. But when he and his wife were shopping for a game table for their new retirement home in Bella Vista, Keigley mentioned that he could make a table like the one they were admiring. The furniture salesman overheard the comment and asked Keigley if he could make a custom entertainment center for his own home. A custom furniture business was born.

"I use a lot of exotic woods," he said. Every piece he makes is one of a kind and is built to fit the customer's lifestyle.

When he first moved into the house on the east side, Keigley set up a small workshop in the basement. But as his business started growing, so did his workshop. He added on to it several times, which meant digging out under the house and wheelbarrowing the dirt out. Now he has a 1,400-square-foot workshop with a sophisticated dust collection system and most of the tools he could ever need.

He bought the tools for the business, but now, he needs to keep the business going to pay for his tools.

But Keigley also gets the satisfaction of knowing he's building heirlooms. He adds a small gold plaque to each piece with his name on it.

"I like to think of it as giving a tree another life -- another existence," he said.

He knows many woodworkers in the area, including members of the Bella Vista Woodcarvers Club and the Stateline Woodturners, but he has not joined any groups. His work is a little different. In fact, he only knows of one other high-end furniture maker in the region.

He designs each piece himself. When a customer wanted a Queen Anne desk and chair, Keigley designed them and drew his own patterns. The desk, which was commissioned by a lawyer, has a secret drawer.

Many of his designs have surprises, like a buffet that opens from the top in spite of what appears to be a drawer. When he does build a drawer, it's always dovetailed. A solid wood piece with the joints dovetailed will last a long time, he said, unlike most of the furniture you can buy today.

He never accepts a job that comes with a deadline and he almost always works in his shop. He can design and build entertainment centers that look like built-ins, but he makes them in sections in his workshop, not on site.

Although he works at his own pace, he likes to be productive and usually has a project underway.

"It's the best therapy in the world," he said. A few years ago, Keigley lost his wife of more than 50 years and only got through by going down to his shop and working. When you're working with wood, you can forget about anything else, he said.

General News on 11/07/2018

Print Headline: Furniture builder finds the work therapeutic

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