If He Builds It …

A fabricator crafts made-to-order goods for unique buildings


Maxwell Yakush relies on a Makita steel-cutting circular saw to craft metal items.

Name: Maxwell Yakush, 32

Position: Architectural Fabricator (Maxstarindustrial.tumblr.com)

Salary: $60,000 a year

What He Does: Yakush uses specialized tools to craft bespoke creations for homes, “things that architects want that they can’t get off-the-shelf,” he says. A recent project had him building steel girders and other elements to give a 16-seat home theater an industrial look. “I was in charge of the construction of the whole theater,” Yakush says. “When I started it was a concrete block.” For other projects, he’s built historically accurate windows and specially fit wooden benches.

“I like figuring out how to make something to exactly as designed, the problem-solving of it,” he says.

How He Got the Job: Yakush got his start building houses in his teens. By the time he entered the Corcoran College of Art, he had developed an expertise in woodworking.

After he graduated, he spent a year as a display artist for Urban Outfitters. Then Yakush was hired as the construction manager at the Corcoran Gallery. “Every time a show changes, pretty much every wall is torn down and replaced,” he says. For one show in particular, “We got to make this cool rolling pedestal for the Greek slave marble sculpture,” he says.

Yakush spent the next three years working for The Craftsman Group, a firm that specializes in restoring the facades of historic homes and buildings. “At this point, when I drive through Georgetown, it’s like half the windows there I’ve worked on,” he says.

Who Would Want This Job: Craftsmen have to love working with their hands, but that’s not the main requirement, according to Yakush. “Patience is the only thing that matters,” he says. “Even if you’ve never done something, you can eventually get it looking right. That’s what I think separates a really skilled craftsmen from an OK craftsman.”

How You Can Get This Job: “Homebuilding is how I got my start,” Yakush says. He also attended the Corcoran, which is the only four-year art school in the D.C. area. But you don’t have to get a fancy degree. Yakush recommends aspiring craftsmen try to find apprenticeships in woodworking or metalworking or in similar shops.

Beth Marlowe is a senior editor at Washington Post Express. She has written for The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Bloomberg Television and other publications.
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