Alfred E. Schudel Sr., a Baltimore cabinetmaker known for his careful restorations and precision workmanship, died Wednesday of cancer at his home in Ednor Gardens. He was 91.
Mr. Schudel retired in the early 1970s from his West Mulberry Street rowhouse shop, where for nearly 60 years he repaired broken chairs, replaced missing carvings, refinished scratched sideboards and fashioned by hand painstakingly accurate reproductions of 18th- and 19th-century Hepplewhite and Chippendale furniture.
"The first thing you saw when you went into his shop was the furniture lined up to be repaired and on the other side, completed pieces waiting to be picked up by the customers," said a son, Robert L. Schudel of Parkville, who worked in the shop as a child sweeping sawdust and straightening nails.
"It was a picturesque and somewhat messy place filled with the aroma of sawdust, varnish, lacquer and turpentine. Old tools and piles of wood filled the remaining space," Mr. Schudel said.
The elder Mr. Schudel was the son of Max Schudel, a Swiss cabinetmaker who immigrated to Baltimore in 1880.
Burned out of his first shop during the Baltimore Fire of 1904, Max Schudel re-established the business in Lovegrove Alley behind Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
After the death of his mother when he was 10, young Alfred was brought into the business by his father.
When the Daily Record expanded, the business moved in 1934 to its final home at 416 W. Mulberry Street, where handles and finials carved from ebony and rosewood were made for the elegant silver teapots produced by the Stieff Silver Co., Samuel Kirk and Son and A. H. Fetting Co..
Repairs also arrived from not only prominent Baltimore families but from such well-known stores as Fallon & Helen, Benson's and Gomprecht & Benesch.
After his father's death, Mr. Schudel continued to operate the shop, using many of his father's tools and few modern ones.
"He used to say he couldn't wait to get to work and hated to come home," said another son, Alfred E. Schudel Jr. of Baltimore.
Mr. Schudel moved his shop to the basement of his Ednor Gardens home, where he continued to work until 1985.
He was born and raised on North Washington Street, and attended Columbus School No. 99 until going to work for his father.
In 1924, he married Mary Leona Thomas, and the couple settled in Ednor Gardens.
Services were held yesterday
In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.