Richard Roberson, awnings and canopies

The awning industry has changed since Richard Roberson's grandfather Albert went into the business in the 1930s. In those days the facades of Connecticut Avenue were covered with khaki-colored window awnings that went up in the spring and came down in the fall. With the advent of air conditioning, however, the residential market changed, and today Roberson's company, Metro Awning, produces as many canopies as awnings. Awnings are what you see hanging over windows and sidewalk cafes, while free-standing canopies have become popular additions to decks, lawns and pools. Roberson (far left in photo) explains the difference between the two this way: "The fabric supports the frame of an awning, and in a canopy the framework supports the fabric." Metro Awning Inc., 4902 43rd Ave., Hyattsville; 301-927-6827.

John Sliney, hardwoods

It all started with a cherry tree: Two decades ago, when a neighbor cut one down, John Sliney (left) took all that beautiful wood, had it sawed, and stowed it in his garage. From there Sliney, formerly an electrical engineer, built his own business. Now, Vienna Hardwoods carries more than 75 kinds of hardwoods and softwoods -- beginning with ash, basswood, beech, birch, bloodwood, bocote, boire, boxwood and butternut and continuing all the way through ziricote. Some customers come in search of hardwood beams or flooring, others for simple plank shelves, and some just to see what different woods look like. The staff dispenses information and does basic millwork -- cutting to width and length, planing, simple routing, even gluing planks together for table tops. Vienna Hardwoods, 241 Mill St., Vienna; 703-255-9663 or 800-571-9663.

Janice Dobson, paper and textiles conservation

After 25 years in the very delicate business of repairing works on paper and textiles, Janice Dobson is an artist of the fix. She spent four years studying Oriental art conservation at the Tokyo National Museum; in the Arlington studio she shares with her husband, Dennis, and a third conservator, Omer Ayar, she still keeps many of the special brushes and tools she brought back from Japan, alongside the sinks, drying racks and tables where works get straightened and cleaned -- sometimes taking months to dry properly. The studio can breathe new life into a precious family photograph, document, hanging, drawing or painting on the verge of ruin. The most common fix Dobson is asked to make is repairing something that has been glued to another surface; other problems solved include flaking, discoloration, scratches, holes, wrinkles and plain old dirt. Dobson Studio, Arlington; 703-243-7363 (by appointment only).