Fix It!


Your lamp’s not lighting? TV’s on the fritz? Don’t toss them—get ’em repaired.

We are Americans and, as such, are surrounded by stuff. All manner of stuff is stuffed into our closets, overwhelms our cupboards, gobbles up floor space and makes our attics groan. Is the car parked in the garage? Perhaps, but if so, there may be no room to open the doors and trunk, considering what else has found its way out there. And the thing about many of our things is that many no longer work. That’s one reason why they are gathering dust, growing a coat of rust or being munched on by termites. Another reason is forgivable ignorance. Who can repair my whatever? Who can fix it?  •  In the spirit of getting your house and all its belongings in working order again, we present a list of people and places to fix your problem possessions.


Sit pretty again, without having to go to the hassle and expense of buying a new chair, by having your old one repaired at Carmel Restorations. The business comes highly recommended by local interior designers.

“We perform comprehensive repairs of all types of furniture: frame goods, case goods, upholstery and patio furniture,” says owner John McCardle, a former attorney. Memorable jobs have included the restoration of an early 20th century hearse and repairs on a Japanese painted screen. The minimum repair bill, say for a small table with a broken leg, is $60.

“There is a growing recognition that the majority of furniture available today lacks the quality common in times past,” McCardle says. “This has helped motivate people to restore rather than replace their older furniture.” He adds that he would not discourage people from trying to repair stuff on their own, but they should “learn as much about woodworking techniques as possible.” And, above all, “do not use nails!”

> Carmel Restorations, 5037 College Oak Drive, Sacramento; (916) 338-0404;

Craftsman Furniture Service is a fine option if you need something made of wood refinished. Its focus is furniture, but it also handles decorative items, figurines, mirror and picture frames, and trunks, among other things. Restoration is a specialty. “In contrast to most other refinishers who use a very hard and durable finish that is cheaper to use but also is difficult to repair and does not have the clarity and brilliance you expect for furniture finishes,” says owner Stephen Durkee, “we use a modern water-based finish that very closely approximates the appearance of classic wood finishes.”

CFS does a lot of work for area museums, including the recently restored Leland Stanford Mansion. The high quality of its work is reflected in its prices, which Durkee admits can cause sticker shock.

“We never offer prices without first getting specific information about the pieces we will work on,” he says. “But for a simple dining chair with a wooden seat that has a worn lacquer finish that needs to be refinished, the charge would be $280. A small Depression-era dining table with some ornamentation on the legs would cost $963 to refinish.”

> Craftsman Furniture Service, 8196 Belvedere Ave., Suite 130, Sacramento; (916) 454-9081;


Before you declare lights out on that busted lamp and throw it away, consider taking it to Lofings Lighting. The midtown store—in business for nearly a half-century—can fix “pretty much” any problem with any lamp, says principal owner Don Lofing. Several years ago, the shop (which also is a retail store) did all the renovation work for the fixtures that light up the Memorial Auditorium. “Some of them weighed as much as a Toyota!” Lofing says, laughing. For smaller, individual projects, repair rates start at about $40 and take a couple of weeks to complete.

> Lofings Lighting Inc., 2121 J St., Sacramento; (916) 442-3582;

Blades and Tools 

Cutting-edge technology doesn’t always entail liquid-crystal display screens, computer chips and plasma. At Nobile Saw Works, it simply means keeping your tools sharp. Kitchen knives, scissors, paper cutters, garden clippers and chain saws can snip, slice and dice as cleanly as ever once Nobile services them with steely resolve. Expect to pay $2 to $4.50 for knife sharpening, though serrated knives will cost a bit more.

With spring approaching, lawn care is quite literally a growing concern. The blades on push mowers, which many environmentally sensitive homeowners have embraced for their nonpolluting, comparatively quiet and retro qualities, need sharpening every year or two. Henry Holberg, Nobile’s owner, says that “as houses are getting big, big, big and the yards are getting small, small, small,” nonmotorized grass-cutting contraptions make more sense than gasoline-powered ones.

Nobile charges $27.50 to $30 to sharpen push-mower blades and completes the task within a week (slightly longer during the springtime sharpening rush).

> Nobile Saw Works, 3011 J St., Sacramento; (916) 442-4261

Hardwood Floors

Tom Bray

is not alone in believing that of all the flooring materials people have resorted to over the decades—linoleum tile in the 1940s, shag carpet in the ’60s, wood laminates in the ’80s and ’90s—the one type that retains its appeal is hardwood.

Bray has been installing and repairing hardwood floors for 17 years. Still in his 30s, the always-dressed-in-black midtowner is a stickler for detail. John Lydon, a local contractor who “wouldn’t use anyone else but Tom” for his floor projects, says Bray might take a little longer than other flooring guys, but the results are always exceptional. He charges $4 to $5 per square foot to refinish an existing hardwood floor, $15 per square foot for repairs.

> Tom Bray, (916) 600-4075


You and your guests are sure to take more of a shine to your silverware if you have it refurbished. AAA Polishing & Plating can spruce up that old knife so well that you’ll never be tempted to stick a fork in it. Servicing one utensil costs about $15. “We take all of the scratches and get rid of them,” says Vic Dougherty, who has owned AAA for 22 years and been in the business for almost 35 years. “Spoons are more like $20 each, because they’re so time-consuming.” Repairs of soup ladles and the like run from $45 to $50. Whatever you do, don’t let your precious silverware languish in the dishwasher: “The hard water and soap really do a number on them,” Dougherty warns.

> AAA Polishing & Plating, 2081 Rene Ave., #C1, Sacramento; (916) 929-6895


Got a kitchen knife that needs sharpening? Raley’s and Bel Air grocery stores offer free knife sharpening. Yes, you heard that right: free. Bring your knives (three per customer per visit) to the meat department and drop them off for one-day turnaround. The stores also give out free cardboard blade covers, so you can safely transport your knives to and from the store. Inquire at the meat department.

Skis and Snowboards

Are you down with your mountain sports equipment? If not, the Ski Doctor can get you on the fast and silky-smooth track to downhill and cross-country fun. Tim Mualchin will “tune up” a typical pair of skis—“We get it nice and smooth and flat on the bottom,” he says, getting the rust out, filling gouges and applying wax—for $35. Similar treatment for snowboards costs $5 more.

Sometimes, though, major repairs are in order. If your ski has been gouged, Mualchin can repair it at the rate of $50 per inch. A binding check and readjustment runs about $25 per pair; having new bindings applied will set you back $30. Simple wax jobs are $10.

The Ski Doctor is in from Oct. 1 through most of April.

> Ski Doctor, 1609 Watt Ave., Sacramento; (916) 488-5398

Also highly recommended: Land Park Ski & Sports

> 4207 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 451-2800


If Northern California Art Conservators is good enough to work on the Crocker Art Museum’s priceless treasures, it may be good enough for you. Although the Crocker doesn’t endorse any one art restorer, it frequently calls upon NCAC. James and Karen Alkons oversee the NCAC, which in addition to restoring paintings also repairs frames and ceramics.


If you have dropped your camera, drowned it or, yes, even run over it with your car, you probably can have it snappy-looking and fully functional again if you take it to California Precision Service. Less-traumatic problems can be fixed, too, such as having that classic Pentax K1000 refurbished. Owner Isao Sato says basic repairs start at around $100 and typically take approximately 10 business days. He says that most people these days bring in digital cameras, some of which cost so much to fix that buying a new one often is the better option.

> California Precision Service, 1714 28th St., Sacramento; (916) 451-1330;
> Northern California Art Conservators, (916) 564-5859


A scanner and Photoshop can get you only so far in restoring an old and tattered photograph. “Can an amateur artist paint a ‘Mona Lisa’?” asks Phil Heller, general manager of Sirlin Photographers in midtown Sacramento. “If you want the best you can get, you go to someone who has the training and expertise to give you the best.”

Sirlin can make high-quality copies of original photographs for as little as $30 for an 8-by-10. Heller likes to tell the story about how a woman brought in a badly creased and soiled picture of her great-grandfather. “Can you clean this up?” she asked. Sure can, Heller responded, noting that he could even replace Great-Grandpa’s dirty overalls with a nice suit and take off his hat, although Heller would need to know on which side to part the hair. “Oh, of course, when you move the hat you will see!” she replied.

> Sirlin Photographers, 2020 I St., Sacramento; (916) 444-8464;


If you wear a Rolex, which can cost more than a round-trip ticket to Europe, it had better be accurate. Grebitus & Sons is the best place in town to get that fancy wristwatch in perfect sync with an atomic clock.

> Grebitus & Sons, Westfield Downtown Plaza, 511 L St., Sacramento; (916) 442-9081 and Lyon Village, 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 30, Sacramento; (916) 487-7853;

TVs, VCRs and CD Players

When you can buy a new videocassette recorder for not much more than the spare change rattling around in the bottom of your pockets (and VCRs are being overtaken by DVD recorders anyway), it may seem pointless to have your old, broken VCR repaired. However, landfills are full of electronic gear that, with a belt here and a screw there, could have been operational again. Peter Son, who since 1985 has been fixing VCRs, TVs, CD players and the like at Coloma TV & VCR Repair in Rancho Cordova, has a 10-year rule: If the equipment’s at least that old, bring it in, pay a comparatively low fee (not the $120 typically charged a decade ago) and expect the thing to work for another five or six years. “Some people say, ‘Forget it,’ and throw it away,” Son says. “I hate that. They still can use it!”

> Coloma TV & VCR Repair, 11082 Coloma Road, Suite 4, Rancho Cordova; (916) 638-5230


Soothing doesn’t begin to describe the ticktock ambiance inside The Clock Shop, which can repair pretty much any old clock.
> The Clock Shop, 2630 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 483-6618


Apple computer owners are a proud bunch, frequently proclaiming how their Macs are head, shoulders and hard drives above PCs. But although they indeed may be splendid machines, even they sometimes malfunction. When they do, it’s time to contact Mark Bauer of Education Technology Solutions.

Although Bauer’s main customer base is composed of small- and medium-sized businesses, he also supports residential users. “Working with technology was never a career goal—I have an English degree—but I’ve always loved messing with computers, particularly Macs,” he says. “The most rewarding part of my job is making a noticeable difference in people’s everyday workflow.” Bauer bills at a rate of $100 to $125 an hour.

> Education Technology Solutions, (916) 736-3390


For a personal touch with personal computers, try Christian Blackburn of Fast and Friendly Computer Repair. No matter how fast Blackburn is, he assuredly is one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic people you are ever likely to meet.

> Fast and Friendly Computer Repair, (916) 224-7035

Can’t get on the Internet at 3 in the morning? Geek Squad offers 24-hour emergency computer repair service.

> Geek Squad, (916) 925-1212; geeksquad.comindows and Stained Glass

Windows and Stained Glass

Custom Glassworks

repairs stained, beveled, leaded and etched glass. Meet owner Mickey Abbey, who’s been at it for more than 30 years, at the Sacramento Antique Faire, held every second Sunday under the WX Freeway at 21st Street.

> Custom Glassworks, 1166 34th Ave., Sacramento; (916) 955-7026.

The highly recommended English Tudor Cottage Glass Works, which has repaired windows at downtown’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, also repairs leaded glass.

> English Tudor Cottage Glass Works, (916) 486-1354

Capital City Glass & Mirror replaces both residential and automotive windows.

> Capital City Glass & Mirror, 4080 Attawa Ave., Sacramento; (916) 451-2818

Window and Door Screens

Got a ripped or broken window screen? Screenmobile—the nation’s largest mobile screening company—will come to your home and fix it.

> Screenmobile, (916) 729-0880;


Experience in the repair business is a good thing, and few local fix-it places have tramped through more history than Sacramento Rug Works. Fresh into its second century of customer care (the original SRW opened in 1905 at Eighth and W streets), the East Sacramento store will cut, bind or reweave practically any soft surface that has been placed atop your home’s bare floors.

“We take everything,” says office manager Pat Chapman. “We do pretty much any repair on carpet and rugs.” Jobs range from $100 on up, depending on the size of the problem and the quality of the material. (If the dog has chewed your prized Persian carpet, for example, prepare to dig deeply into your proverbial pockets.) Pickup and redelivery service are available, says Chapman, who adds that most repairs take about a week.

> Sacramento Rug Works, 1308 65th St., Sacramento; (916) 455-3081

Musical Instruments

When a dead rat is stuck in your saxophone, you probably should consider taking the sax to a professional repairer. That’s the sound advice of Tom Hannickel, who has fixed brass and woodwind instruments at Kline Music for 22 years. Although he personally hasn’t plumbed any dead animals out of saxophones—the strangest thing he could recall removing from an instrument was a Godzilla doll’s green head—he has heard of such a sticky predicament.

Many of us baby boomers played in high school or college bands and haven’t picked up our instruments since; if we haven’t sold them or given them away, we have them stowed in our cellars, the wishful thinking being that we would have them restored and someday play again. Kline can make that possible. My wood clarinet, bought used by my parents in 1969, could be brought back to life—new tenon and key corks, keys polished, wood oiled, etc.—for around $220, according to manager Paul Anderson, who has been with Kline for 24 years.

Anderson encourages all musicians, whether they are elementary school students or reinvigorated 46-year-olds, to not necessarily blame themselves if the sounds they are producing are subpar. It could be that the instrument needs an overhaul.

> Kline Music, 2200 Sutterville Road, Sacramento; (916) 456-8742;
One of our region’s most accomplished musicians, Susan Lamb Cook of the Sacramento Philharmonic, entrusts her precious cello to Devin Hough, who specializes in stringed-instrument repairs and maintenance. Lamb Cook also has kind words for instrument-repairer Cheryl Macomber.

> Devin Hough, (530) 750-1132
> Cheryl Macomber, (916) 923-1744


A rainy week can throw your piano’s tuning off, a problem that many area pianists agree piano tuner Brad Larson will deal with—soundly.

> Brad Larson, (916) 451-9825


Is your toaster toast? Unfortunately, fixing it is not likely to happen unless you’re mechanically inclined and have an afternoon to spare. Finding a professional to repair your major appliances, such as clothes dryers and refrigerators, is a more realistic proposition. S&S Appliance Repair in Roseville probably can get your washing machine spinning again, without too much agitation, within a day. Expect to pay $130 to $150 for the fix if it’s routine, says store manager Bobby Purwel, who adds that the company’s vans are fully stocked and, as such, delays for special-parts orders are rare.

> S&S Appliance Repair, 1816 Diamond Woods Circle, Rose-ville; (916) 601-2136;

Kitchen Appliances

Value Appliance

is your best bet when your high-end kitchen appliance goes on the fritz. Sub-Zero fridge not keeping its cool? A repairperson will be out in a jiffy.

> Value Appliance, 7721 Mariposa Ave., Citrus Heights; (916) 551-1561

Auto Upholstery

If you are torn between having your car upholstery repaired professionally or masked over with, say, duct tape, consider checking in with Award Interiors before you make a decision. The Northrop Avenue shop will patch the tear starting at about $50. Having an entire truck cab seat reupholstered costs about $600 and takes a day and a half, according to Award Interiors co-owner Paul Jovalis. Estimates are free; appointments for service work are required.

> Award Interiors, 2111 Northrop Ave., Sacramento; (916) 922-8889


To avoid work that for most homeowners is really grim, Chim Chimney will inspect and clean your fireplace and its vent. It also can replace parts on newer factory-built fireplaces, rebuild damaged masonry and reline flues. (The locally owned company also can clean your dryer vents and rain gutters.) For a one-story home with a regular open fireplace, Chimney charges $74.50 for a safety inspection and $55 for a cleaning.

“Over the years, we have done work at both the Governor’s Mansion and Sutter’s Fort,” reports Karla Swanson, who with husband Scott has owned Chim Chimney since 1980. “We’ve done work for Loaves & Fishes. We also rescued a few live cats and kittens, birds (and) a duck. . . . A few years back, we were called out to locate a boa constrictor that had crawled inside the air vent on a fireplace.”

Can homeowners maintain their fireplaces without professional help? “The question is: Is it really worth it to try to do it yourself?” Swanson says. “I could probably change the oil in my car myself, too, but you won’t find me under there.”

> Chim Chimney, 4537 Harlin Drive, Sacramento; (916) 387-5000;


Problems afoot? Put a bounce back in your step by having your favorite pair of shoes fixed by Trofim Banar of Arden & Howe Shoe & Luggage Repair. The Ukraine-born craftsman, who’s been in Sacramento for 15 years (and worked on shoes for 10 years before that in his native country), will replace those heels or soles—or perform any other conceivable kind of footwear maintenance—for prices that start as low as $10. Banar is quick, too: Jobs take only a day or two. But keep in mind that he is very busy these days. Nordstrom and Macy’s are throwing lots of business his way and, not surprisingly, the list of shoe repairmen is considerably smaller than it was, say, 70 years ago, when people didn’t routinely toss broken shoes into the trash.

> Arden & Howe Shoe & Luggage Repair, 1537 Howe Ave., Sacramento; (916) 922-2362


Miracle Method Bathroom & Kitchen Restoration

doesn’t so much fix as resurface: tubs and sinks, tile, cultured marble and Formica, even fiberglass shower pans. The final coating can protect your kitchen sink for 10 to 15 years, your bathroom sink for up to two decades.

Miracle Method’s most common job, according to office manager Kelly Hanaway, is the bathroom tub. To make that gnarly bacterial magnet spanking-fresh again will cost you a pretty penny (at least $425), but the finish should endure for up to 20 years. The job takes about two days, the first to prepare the surface and the second to polish.

> Miracle Method Bathroom & Kitchen Restoration, 5750 Roseville Road, #2, Sacramento; (916) 332-3575;

Jacuzzis, Hot Tubs and Spas

Plopping down in a malfunctioning spa does not sit well, especially during wintertime, when hot-tubbing is a very cool thing to do. Rather than give up and turn your portable Jacuzzi into a giant and awkward planter, give Aquastar Spa Repair Service a call. Steven Bjerke, who’s been running the one-man business since 1988, charges $90 an hour to repair the toil of trouble that’s bubbling in your tub. Hot Springs spas, he says, are top of the line and, with proper maintenance and occasional repair, can last up to 25 years; cheaper brands are “rapidly deteriorating,” he adds.

> Aquastar Spa Repair Service, (916) 988-8606;


* If you’re interested in what other consumers have to say about more than 3,000 repair services in the Greater Sacramento area, visit You’ll pay $16 for one month’s access, $174 for four years’ access.