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The 5 Levels of Active Recruitment of Woodworkers - Part 1

11. July 2019 12:44

Luke Barnett: Chairmaker: Sam Beauford Woodshop Career Woodworking Institute

Luke-Barnett"Just like growing a garden…. cultivating the future talent pool of skilled workers takes effort. It takes time, talent, and money. You will reap what you sow. Your results are directly proportional to the effort that is put in.

This article will be broken into 2 parts. This is part one. Make sure you check back for part 2.    Level 1 is where most of the industry currently is positioned. At this level of employment, vacancies are filled by traditional methods. An employer will recognize that they need to fill a position when an employee decides to quit or retire.

On my personal “task management board”, I would put this in the AMBUSH category. Ambush means that my task is time-sensitive and I need to devote resources that I did not plan on devoting to accomplishing the time-sensitive task. Ambush tasks are usually completed in a state of panic, which causes me to make less than optimal decisions. Ambush mode is not where you want to be while hiring. This causes you to take what you can get rather than picking and choosing the right talent for the job. Level 1 recruiting has a domino of side effects such as, high turnover of employees, causing increased resources spent on training, which causes lower wages due to not having the most effective staff, which causes an overall negative culture among the employees.  If any business is at this level, I would strongly encourage them to make the move to level 2.

Level 2 is where some of you may be. Level 2 is where active recruitment starts. At this minimal level, you have awareness of your local skilled trades program. You have made a phone call to the instructor and opened a dialogue with him or her. You occasionally make an inquiry to whether they have any candidates to work for your business.  You may get a student here and there, but it hasn’t been a really good resource for your business so far. Does this sound familiar???? Level 2 takes minimal effort, all you do is make a phone call and they send a potential candidate. I am going to give you the hard truth about level 2 from an educators perspective. I couldn’t care less about level 2. Your occasional phone call is 1 of 100 per month that we receive from recruiters looking for a quick hire. Level 2 is a low priority for us. We will send you students but out best and brightest are reserved for higher levels of participants.

Level 3 is the level when you have bought into the recruitment plan and you want to contribute. You do not have the time to dedicate but you still want to contribute so you write a check or make some in-kind donations of materials or something.

On a side note…….. Do not call a CTE woodworking school and say that you have some scrap wood that you are willing to donate. We know this game………. You are trying to get rid of your scrap and hoping to off it on someone that can use it. A similar scenario that you may be familiar with, is when a person calls your company to tell you that they have a tree in their yard and you can have it if you are willing to cut it down and haul it off. The point is….. We do not want your scrap wood.

Back to level 3. Let me tell you….. we LOVE getting checks. On this level, you will have worked out the beginnings of a formal partnership with an educational institution. Your contributions earn you some level of priority when it comes to the quality of students. This level is where you will start to see returns. Every woodworking business in North America should be at this level. This level strengthens educational programs by providing them with much-needed resources, which help us provide better quality education.

Levels 4-5 will be discussed in the next Blog. Stay Tuned…..

Overwhelmed Being a Jack of All Trades/Master of None? Then Try Breaking It Into Manageable Parts

9. July 2019 16:01

By: John Lindsay, New Breed Furniture LLC

Editor's Note: This is the first blog in a series by design/builder/entrepreneur John Lindsay. 

After years of being an owner/operator of a small furniture company that offers more than two hundred solid wood products developed and manufactured in house, I determined I had to understand all my roles and responsibilities to help mitigate the anxiety that comes with having to wear so many hats. I began by going back to school - in this case, self-education through reading and listening to audiobooks - in pursuit of my own Masters of Business Administration degree.

I liken the process to reading about the latest research on aerodynamics while building a flying machine while flying said flying machine, while hurling down to the unforgiving ground at breakneck speed. What I was in search of were systems, philosophies, best practices, and heuristics that could help me structure my efforts building my business. 

What I came up with was a simple to learn acronym: A.M.O.R.I. which both represents the five distinct categories or departments that all business need to have to be able to scale while having its own business philosophy built into the name. This philosophy is that to be a successful owner/operator/entrepreneur you have to resist the natural desire to favor certain parts of your business over the others and learn to LOVE every aspect of your business, which means taking an active role in mastering all the differing roles. Here’s how it works:

A    Administration
M   Marketing and Sales
O   Operations
R    Research and Development
I    Investment and Intellectual Property

This is what I plan to share with you in this series of articles about owning your own woodworking business. However, discretion demands that I be transparent about when these ideas I share are more hypothetical, and when they have been practiced and hard-earned. In short, I am far from having mastered any of these categories, and in some cases have yet to have any real experience leading teams in the trenches, but rather, I am projecting forward standards I hope to one day prove essential to my success.

I’ll get right into it with the first letter of the acronym.

A  for Administration:

A question that has long plagued me was whether furniture, cabinetry, and millwork companies ever go back and analyze what parts of their initial estimates and systems for bidding were accurate? From my experience, it is very difficult to go back over a project, sift out all the necessary numbers, separating out the different activities and costs into the same categories, all in an effort to compare apples to apples. Then once the analysis is complete, be able to identify which unit costs or algorithmic heuristics are off and change them.

Next, keep a record of the changes with descriptions of the decision processes that lead to the change, so that they can be confirmed or denied time and time again. Finally, learn over time which systems are reliable, how reliable, and why? Instead, I imagine many companies skip these crucial process’, having completed the project, needing to move onto the next. My first principle thinking mind concludes that missing these steps will keep all bad practices and estimating flaws right where you don’t want them, in the driver’s seat of your profitability. In coming articles I will break down why doing this work is so frustrating and difficult, how to set up your operations and your administrations to best capture vital information, and more importantly how to know what isn’t necessary.

 M for Marketing and Sales:

Another question that every business owner faces is how to spend marketing dollars and time? It seems to me that if you have a company who sells products made of the most beautiful material on the planet (wood) and is handled and manipulated with expert skill and craft then why not learn to apply that maker’s talent to your marketing materials? 

In coming articles, I will break down why hand made marketing combined with smart social media is the winning strategy. 

O for Operations 

A third question that I ask myself as a user of space is how to use the shop floor in concert with the available storage to get the best performances and build the best products? In coming articles I will break down why most shops have it all wrong when they let their larger machines dominate their space with permanent footprints.

R for Research and Development

My lifeblood is dependent on the quality of the designs I am offering. For my kind of business, being serious about having an ongoing design process which includes art directing, engineering, cost analysis, market research, and comp collection is essential, but not always possible. How should a smaller to medium scale artisanal manufacturer continue developing their product line’s design languages while filling orders, collecting money, packaging, and shipping, etc?

In coming articles I will break down how dedicating time to experiments and explorations in design can be balanced with the day to day deadlines and orders.

I for Investment and Intellectual Property

This is the part of the article where I let myself dream, and share ideas about how to best invest real profits back into this crazy business that I am learning to run, while running it, while hurling toward unforgiving realities. The last question in this article is can you imagine being a venture capital fund that made strategic investments in parts of your business, expecting to see real return on investment? I much enjoy ignoring my present reality, and enter a fictional world in which the business (or business’) that I have created are all wildly successful and I’m faced with the happiest problem anyone could have, where to put the piles of money that is pouring in? In coming articles, I will dream big and imagine how real estate can be both the destination and generating agent of profits.

John Lindsay is President of New Breed Furniture LLC.  Reach him at john@newbreedfurniture.com  

Questioning How Your Plant Operates Is Hard, and Why the Answer to How? Is Yes!

4. July 2019 22:42

By: Joe Baggett,  Innovative Wood Process Solutions  

The best answers come from the best questions. And from the best questions come the deepest understanding.(although sometimes we won’t like the answers to those "best questions.")

Let's take a look at how we can learn to ask the best questions. As the skills for each area of wood manufacturing (fabrication, finishing, programming, etc.) become more specialized, managers must adopt a type of strategic learning to be able to tap into and harness the specialized skills of department managers. In other words, you have to figure out how to become a temporary "expert," while asking the right questions to guide the conversation and discovery, in the context of the actual “world” of wood manufacturing.

It seems there is always a noteworthy business that is closing down (like Wood-Mode) or shifting to Mexico (like MasterBrand ) or even exiting the business (like Masco).  Somehow under new ownership or at a new location, these businesses are able to start fresh and succeed, or else they never re-open, like Cardell. 

And that is largely because the former leaders have not asked the right questions - or didn’t want to. While that may seem harsh or even irrelevant during this strong economy, it is important for organizations that endeavor to create strategic learning organizations that constantly reinvent themselves. Wille Peterson in his book Strategic Learning says “failure is seldom caused by what the environment does to us; it is caused most often by what we do to ourselves”.

According to an old friend and industry colleague (he’s wood industry leader John Huff), people will believe 25% of what they hear, 50 percent of what they see, and 100 percent of what they want to believe. John and I often joked together about how biased our own thinking processes were, and we struggled with what we could do to overcome our own preconceived ideas and beliefs.

In all these queries, l realized the outcomes on projects are more of a product of the questions we ask - even when we don’t always consciously understand that those questions actually come from our pre-conceived ideas and assumptions. Most of the things we ask or assume come from thought patterns that were based on “What to Think” behavior. These were formed from the way we see the world in which we work and live, day-to-day.

But that view of the world is a product of our own background. It is the sum of our education, exposure, belief systems, and culture. In re-engineering or starting up a plant, we have to be open to set that aside. Here’s a good example and thought exercise on that concept:

I’m a big fan of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies. In a scene from “The Return of the Pink Panther.”  Sellers was checking into a hotel and saw a dog sitting next to the front desk manager. He asked, “Does your dog bite?”

The manager looked up and said, “No.” Sellers reached down to pet the animal, which promptly bit his hand, pulling off his glove. Shocked, Sellers immediately retracted his hand and exclaimed, “I thought you said your dog did not bite!” The hotel manager looked up and said, “That is not my dog.” Context is everything for asking the right questions.

In my last blog, I mentioned most wood manufacturing companies have a “dungeon” – the place where equipment that is not in use or is obsolete, is stored. I asked if we had to write a report about the equipment not in use or obsolete, what story would it tell? In general, I believe it would tell about how there was a failure to derive increasing simplicity from increasing complexity.

The wood industry has become increasingly specialized and more complex while making some traditional methods seem “easier.” This increased specialization has caused some wood products manufacturers to keep it simple, while not taking full advantage of possible improvements and game-changing technology.

The average woodshop may not want to acquire the maintenance, operator or leadership talent to adopt and utilize the technology. Some manufacturers risk acquiring the technology, but don’t have the organization or strategy to apply it in a successful manner, and end up discarding it for simpler methods and machines. Some are investing in the organizational talent, culture, strategy and learning to apply as much cutting-edge technology as possible,but are is still years removed from what could be and should be the current state.

I recently visited a cabinet shop and was required to sign an non-disclosure agreement because they had switched to a new wood coating. While we observed the operation, we couldn’t help but notice the coating was a modern but typical post-catalyzed conversion varnish. This type of wood coating has been around for well over 30 years. It was new to them (their world) but in the actual world of available wood coatings, this is an older technology (in the actual world of woodworking). 

The increased specialization in the woodworking industry has created these two worlds. This is a good thing because we need to be constantly developing cutting edge technology but, to successfully apply it, we also need to put it into perspective and context. Strategic learning is the key to harnessing this specialization for its value and asking the right questions in the context closer to the actual “world” of wood manufacturing.

It starts by re-envisioning the way we ask our questions. Peter Block does great work in his book, The Answer to How Is Yes, in re-envisioning the way we ask questions. As Block puts it: 

There is depth in the question “How do I do this” that is worth exploring. The question is a defense against the action. It is a leap past the question of purpose, past the questions of intentions, and the drama of responsibility. The question ”How?”- more than any other question - looks for the answer outside of us. It is an indirect expression of our doubts.

Block gives us six typical questions that shape manufacturing operations, equipment and products more than any others and the way we could ask them differently that would have a profound impact.

  1. How do you do it? This the greatest assumption. The biggest question is what is worth doing and what matters the most not how it is done.
  2. How long will it take? The question how long drives us to oversimplify the world.
  3. How much does it cost? The most common rationalization for doing the things we do not believe in that what we really desire either takes too long or costs too much.
  4. How do you get these people to change? What would empower and create the environment for the needed organizational transformation? Also, what does it mean for me? 
  5. How do we measure it? Many of the things that matter most defy measurement. Our obsession with measurement is really an expression of our doubt. What measurement would have the most meaning to me and our organization?
  6. How have other people done it successfully? The value of another’s experience is to give us hope not to tell us how or whether to proceed.

If you look at the rhetoric in the woodworking industry you can see how the questions of “How?” proliferates in our thinking.  We constantly see "How To" advice in much of what we read, hear at conferences, attend and listen to in the woodworking Industry.  How to set up a profitable finishing operation, how to select the right software, how to select the right machines. 

If our default for developing great questions remains heavily on the “How” we will continue to be susceptible to the missteps resulting from the increasing specialization, and from other opportunities and threats. The best strategic solutions often require learning and knowledge we have yet to experience. The solutions take longer than what we want, cost more than what we want, require more or better people than we have. And they deliver results that we don’t currently measure.

I love the woodworking industry and want to see it rise to new heights, both on the national scale of manufacturers as well as the global scale. I want to see the small and medium-size shops realize their dreams and be recognized. I want to see the large manufacturers invest in technology and become even more strategic leaders in the global woodworking industry.

I truly believe that the most important contribution a leader can make is to make more leaders. It is my purpose in these writings to inspire and provoke new thoughts and passion, and evoke thoughtful but decisive action. I keep coming back to a need for us as leaders in the woodworking industry to revise some common thinking processes, an area we will continue to explore. 

Joe Baggett is President of Innovative Wood Process  Solutions. Reach him at iwpsolutions19@gmail.com,    817-682-3631. www.iwps.biz

Before You Make Any Technology Investments, Let’s Visit the Dungeon

28. June 2019 11:45

By: Joe Baggett,  Innovative Wood Process Solutions              

Editor's Note: This is the first blog in a series by engineering consultant Joe Baggett

After years of leading engineering and technical service operations at major cabinetry and wood products firms, I determined that I would like to take what I had learned and use it as the basis for starting an engineering and consulting firm. So I began by thinking back on my career so far. In setting up this consultancy, I wanted to do something – and create something - new and different. 

On the equipment side, I did a quick survey of the machinery, infrastructure, and information technology for which I had been responsible. It shocked me when I realized that I had specified, acquired, installed and commissioned over 100 million dollars worth of equipment.

Then I asked myself what I had learned from all this. That’s what I plan to share with you in this series of articles about plant operations.

A question that has long plagued me was why the average shop or factory floor doesn’t look more like the show floor from IWF, AWFS or Ligna? I used to think it was for lack of funds or financing. So I asked myself if each wood manufacturer that attended these shows had a blank check, with no obligation funding to buy machines each year, would it really make a big difference in our industry’s operations overall?

The more I thought about it, the more I concluded, it would not. Yes, more machines may be bought and installed; but would it result in the average woodshop/factory being more profitable, stronger organizations, etc.? I would have to say no. Let’s explore why.

First, just ask and answer some blue-sky hypothetical

  • If the organization you are currently leading had 10 million in obligation free capital to invest in equipment, could you increase profitability by 5 to 10%, or more?
  • Would such investment strengthen your organization?
  • Would it bring health to the culture of the organization?
  • Would it fit with a holistic company-wide strategy?

I’ll go deeper into what’s behind my opinion on why investment is not the magic bullet in later articles. But suffice it to say for now, that after giving it a lot of thought, I determined that the most valuable contribution I could make to the woodworking industry through a consulting engineering practice wouldn’t be merely offering technical expertise, but to address, instead, the strategy – in regards to strategic thinking or what I call “holistic organizational thinking” - in which to apply it.

In re-engineering or green-fielding a plant, asking the right questions and in the right context is everything - especially as increased specialization and the creation of worlds within the industry such as Finishing, Bar Code Scanning, Shop Floor Control Software, etc. , come into play.

Let’s return to our questions about that hypothetical ten million dollar investment. One thing I noticed is that most wood manufacturing companies have a “dungeon” – the place where equipment that is not in use, or is obsolete, is stored. Sometimes that equipment isn’t very old, and not infrequently, there is a lot of it. Also sometimes it hadn’t been in service long enough to pay itself off. (Just think about what that $10 million in potential investment could buy.)

During this same time, I was beginning to take note of this phenomenon: the downturn in the economy was beginning. At first, I thought this accounted for the growing inventory of machines in those dungeons.

But there was another force at play. So let me ask another non-rhetorical question: What’s in your dungeon? If we had to write a report about the equipment not in use or obsolete what story would it tell? The story usually has less to do with the equipment itself and more to do with the organization, strategy, permitting and the market life of the product it was purchased to produce. If we did a postmortem on the equipment in the dungeon what story would it tell us?

Now, this where I would suggest that the obligation free investment in equipment wouldn’t have that big of an impact on the average woodworking organization if it was available. I would suggest that it would proportionately grow our dungeons.

I can’t tell you how many times we have resurrected a piece of equipment from the dungeon but in the context of making it work for the current application and needs. Always with the “it doesn’t work” as the starting place. This reaction is the anecdotal verbalization of this phenomena from “what to think” instead of “how to think.” The downturn in the economy only exacerbated the underlying problem. Holistic Strategy is the key to changing how we approach equipment acquisition and application.

Will Peterson says it best in his book, Strategic Learning:

“As strategic leaders, we have to derive increasing simplicity from increasing complexity. Information is universally accessible and becoming free to all. The internet offers it to us on a plate. No longer does the world belong to the ones with the most information, but to those with the highest ability to make sense of it; no longer to those who know more but to those who understand it better.”

Next time we’ll look at the idea of “asking the right questions," and why that is so hard to do.

 Joe Baggett is President of Innovative Wood Process   Solutions. Reach him at iwpsolutions19@gmail.com,    817-682-3631. www.iwps.biz

 

Hardwood Edging - Part 4

25. June 2019 10:48

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Design: ScottGrove.com

Adding curves to any project substantially increases complexity; applying curved inlay compounds the process. Scott Grove has been teaching these techniques for over ten years, perfecting every step and nuance along the way. He then spent three additional years writing a book Hardwood Edging and Inlay for Curved Tables publish by Schiffer Publishing and has refined this process to a fine and simple art.

During this time, he also developed The Ultimate Router Base System available at ImagineWoodworking.com that gives you more control and increases safety and stability on any handheld routing operation.

Scott will demonstrate how to use this system that helps you produce accurate, perfectly-matched curved joinery, large inlays, and dead-centered inlays over a seam easily and every time. It’s perfect for any professional or hobbyist woodworker who wants to add new dimensions to their creations simply and safely.

With this one router base system, complex shapes, circles, curves, and inlays can be quickly and accurately made, saving you time and money. It is the only offset router base that accepts a standard 1-3/16” PC template guide and includes the only extra-large template guide bushing set that allows you to offset a ½” router bit to either side of the cutting seam.

The design adds surface area to your router base for greater stability, safer operation and more controlled cutting. Its high machining tolerance avoids slop or wiggle that is sometimes found between a router base and standard template guides, too.

Learn more about this topic by viewing the "Curved Joinery, Edges and Inlays" session from IWF 2018 that is available in the IWF Education Portal.

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Trends at Ligna 2019: Will We See Felder or Festool Safety Saws at IWF 2020?

31. May 2019 17:41

Watching the reports filter in from Ligna 2019, the big global woodworking show that ran in  Hannover, Germany last week, we're beginning to pick up on some exciting technology revelations. 

Owing to the lead time in market channels, some of these developments could make their first North American debut at the August 2020 International Woodworking Fair.  In particular, we are intrigued by developments in table saws, with Woodworking Network reporting this morning on Ligna trends in safety saws - specifically Felder's new PCS (Preventive Contact System), and a possible development by Altendorf of a similar saw. Here's how Felder describes its development (shown in the video below):

  • Safety environment recognition with early approach detection 
    Upon detection of unexpected, fast approaches within the saw blade area, PCS triggers its safety lowering system. The safety environment encloses the saw blade and protects against access from all directions by lowering of the saw blade under the saw table at the speed of light. The functionality based on electromagnetic repulsion, which allows for an all-time extremely short response time of a few milliseconds. The PCS safety lowering works damage free and there are no reset costs. The sliding table panel saw is immediately ready for use at the push of a button. PCS works without consumable parts and therefore completely adjustment and maintenance free. 

The technology is contrasted with both the U.S.-based SawStop - now owned by Germany's Festool - and which uses a brake to instantly stop the sawblade; and Bosch, also in Germany, which uses a piston to drop the blade below the cutting level before it can do damage. Bosch lost a trade dispute that led it to discontinue import to the U.S., but the saw may be available in other markets.  

Festool showed visitors to Ligna its Festool tablesaw with flesh sensing technology (below). Festool showcased this version of its bench-mounted circular saw complete with SawStop technology to prevent operators from suffering serious cuts.

Festool-Sawstop-Ligna-2019.jpg

Festool-Sawstop-Ligna-2019.jpg

If Altendordf enters the safety saw market, it would be a natural step in its evolution since its acquisition, in 2017,  by the investor Avedon. Soon after Stiles Machinery ended its distribution agreement for Altendorf saws.  The Altendorf Group says it aims to become a supplier of high-quality machines forthe international craft businesses in the field of panel-based furniture manufacturing. In addition to its classical sliding table saws, it now sells edgebanders made by Hebrock, a company based in eastern Westphalia, Germany, whose edge-banding
machines have made an international name for themselves, and further acquisitions are planned. The Altendorf Group America was established in Mooresville, North Carolina at the beginning of 2019.

The Ligna show producers also provide their own summary of trends at the show - here's an excerpt:  

Manufacturers of wood processing machinery for solid and engineered wood concentrated on automation and integrated systems, especially on modular technologies as a gateway to digitization. The approach here is one of end-to-end digitization – with concepts spanning everything from planning and design to production and monitoring – as opposed to island solutions. The other notable feature of these new digitization technologies is that they are as easy and intuitive to use as smartphones.

Five axis aggregate

Meanwhile, robotics technology is increasingly becoming the norm across all areas of industrial manufacturing, from materials handing to collaborative processing by humans and machines, right through to surface finishing. The surface-finishing link in the value chain is becoming increasingly integrated into the overall production system. Automated guided vehicle systems are optimizing materials flows. And advanced central system control modules are intelligently managing the associated data and aggregating it quickly and efficiently for even the most demanding of single-batch production scenarios.

IMA Schelling Ligna

From the cloud technologies on show, it was abundantly clear that cloud-based data management has now fully made the transition from proprietary systems to digital ecosystems. Thanks to a growing array of digital assistance solutions, the use of production data for preventive maintenance and production planning is getting more efficient all the time. At this rate, the vision – presented at this year's LIGNA – of end-to-end cloud-based material and tool management may soon be a reality.

 

Another vision that is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality relates to networking based on standardized communication protocols for all machines. On that score, the European Federation of Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers (EUMABOIS) and the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) used LIGNA to present a framework for a new P&W (Plug & Work) standard. The framework is a joint project by eight leading European manufacturers of woodworking machinery.

Another key trend in the woodworking and wood processing industry is augmented reality – most notably the use of VR headsets and tablets to visualize work-steps and machine states.

LIGNA 2019 also presented "all-in-one" solutions that can efficiently bring together multiple standalone machines to create integrated process flows. The show likewise featured new developments in saw technology that deliver industrial safety benefits. These involve high-performance sensor systems for material detection – a new generation of self-learning scanner technology that represents an exciting initial implementation of AI in woodworking.

The highlights of the wood-based construction area of the show included the world premiere of a six-axis aggregate that can process work-pieces on all sides without repositioning. There was also a newly developed membrane press that can handle curved and uneven surfaces. And in the digital printing part of the LIGNA surface technology showcase, visitors witnessed a new software that can generate even extremely challenging decorative laminate layers, such as stone-look, in a single pass while maintaining an extremely high level of quality.

In the forestry technology section of this year's show the spotlight was on climate change, Forestry 4.0, digital machine integration, supply chain tracking, timber flow management, the use of VR headsets for machine control, and apps for various in-forest operations. Other key themes related to the development of forest access routes and new approaches to forest logistics.

The program also included an array of special zones and events that generated a great deal of visitor interest, among them the LIGNA.Forum, the LIGNA Campus, and, of course, the LIGNA Training Workshops for equipment users from the joinery, cabinetmaking, carpentry and assembly trades. And then there were the absolute visitor magnets, chief among them the Crane Driving Championships and the German Logging Championship.

The next LIGNA will run from 10 to 14 May 2021 in Hannover, Germany.

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General

Keep Your Cool

12. August 2018 17:58

By: Ralph Bagnall, Woodworking Consultant, Author and TV Host: Consulting Woodworker.com


There are many factors that need to be accounted for when cutting or milling plastics, but your over-arching concern should always be keeping things cool. With wood products, heat is an issue, but is secondary to vibration. With plastics it is the other way around; vibrations need to be controlled, but heat build-up is really the major concern. Too much heat begins to melt the plastic rather than cutting it, and this not only produces a poor edge, but the softened material can actually cool back in the kerf and weld itself together.
 
The heat we are concerned with is from friction. Every tooth cutting into the plastic generates heat, so generally, fewer teeth is better. Good gullet distance between teeth gives some chance for cooling between impacts. The diameter of a 10” saw blade generally lets the teeth cool between cuts, but if there are too many teeth, heat will build up along the cut line of the material.
 
With softer plastics like polycarbonates or nylons, a bandsaw blade removes heat from the cut line well but, again, large gullets and a healthy set to the teeth are recommended. Reciprocating blades like those on a jigsaw should not be used; the blade generates even more heat on the return as on the cutting stroke and allows no time for cooling. When cutting plastics, watch for galling around the kerf line, little bits of melted material clinging to the edges means the friction is excessive.

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Natural Woodgrains Reign

12. August 2018 17:49

By: Michele Weitzel, Northern Contours

Spotted widely at the 2018 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and NeoCon 2018, natural woodgrains are in growing demand for cabinet doors. This trend continues to build traction from 2017, where embracing the natural character of woodgrains was a consistent theme in interior design and at international tradeshows. Trending woodgrains with a natural, low-sheen finish like light oak, maple, and rich, vibrant walnut make an eye-catching statement on modern slab doors and exude contemporary elegance in two-tone combination with painted-look neutrals.

Showing off the natural beauty of real wood veneer is now easier than ever with Clear Coat UV finishing from Northern Contours. UV-cured finishing is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly processes in use today, resulting in significant reduction or complete elimination of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). UV-cured coatings consist of two main parts: a catalyst that initiates the curing process when exposed to ultraviolet light, and resins that cure very hard and are solvent and scratch resistant. Northern Contours offers a wide array of classic, exotic, and reconstituted wood veneer species. Reconstituted species help replicate the patterns of endangered hardwood species and offer a very consistent grain pattern.

Designing home organization spaces like media centers, home offices, wet bars, and closet spaces with natural woodgrains can give spaces warm, welcoming vibes. Woodgrains like oak and walnut pair effortlessly with white in sheens from matte and satin to high gloss. Neutral grey in warm or cool tones as well as modern matte black are also easily paired with oaks and other light Reconstituted veneer species. Looking to add a little color to your design? Try pairing light, Scandi-inspired woodgrains with muted, matte pastels like blues and greens. For extra style points and a flowing luxe look, wood veneer can be grain matched on cabinet fronts horizontally or vertically.

Join Michele Weitzel for her presentation “What’s Trending in Colors and Textures” at the IWF 2018 Closets Symposium to learn more about Wood Veneer & Clear Coat UV finishing from Northern Contours.

About Northern Contours

Northern Contours is a cabinet door and components manufacturer with over 25 years of industry experience. We serve a variety of customers on a custom and volume basis in Kitchen & Bath, Home Organization, Commercial Furniture, and Refacing markets. Manufacturing expertise in membrane pressing, miter folding, laminating & edgebanding, machining & routing, and 5-piece door assembly. We operate six facilities throughout the US and Canada for full coverage of North America.

 

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Give More, Get More

9. August 2018 07:02

 By: Ralph Bagnall, Woodworking Consultant, Author, TV Host: Consulting Woodworker.com

Today’s audience is bombarded with messaging, and email is no exception. It’s easy to fall into the trap of promoting your products and services and telling everyone just how wonderful you are without providing any value relevant to your subscribers. All the little things you bring to the table beyond your basic business offerings are what keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

We all know about the 80/20 rule. I like to apply it to email marketing content too. I believe you should give away 80% of your knowledge base and save 20% for your best customers.  Wait, what? Give away some of my best information? Don’t be afraid of giving your audience insight that will help them solve some of their biggest headaches.

The people on your email lists subscribed because they were looking to learn about your areas of expertise or solve a problem that is right up your alley. When you give them the knowledge they seek, your audience learns to trust you as an expert, a thought-leader in the field; doing it consistently keeps you top of mind. Will this convert them all to customers? Unlikely, but many already need your help and will know to turn to you because you’ve earned their trust. And do-it-yourselfers will love your content, share it, and just might become your biggest ambassadors!

Learn more about this during Ralph's session, "Effective Email for Small Businesses" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

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Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - Part 6

9. August 2018 07:01

By: Bobbo Buckley, Software Developer: Cabinotch Innovative Solutions

Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - BMG10

In our last Effective Estimating post of this series, we talked about our Estimate and Proposal ACCURACY. In this final post of the series, I want to remind all cabinetmakers (me included), that when it comes to manufacturing cabinets, "The end depends upon the beginning." No matter how effective we design, engineer, machine, assemble, finish, hardware, deliver and install a project, if our Estimate was bad, then there is a good chance our Proposal was bad, and if they were exorbitantly high, we just might earn a reputation that is not conducive to future projects, and if they were too low, we may lose money on the project, and just a few of these can break even a strong company.
We need to know out costs, and we need to know them well. We need an Estimating System that can take Material and Labor costs and build upon them the appropriate markups that will cover our overhead. Our overhead must include things that we don't think of on a day-to-day basis, but we must force ourselves to do so.

  • If you want to retire one day, you have to build in the cost of funding your retirement.
  • If there is any chance you might cut off a useful part of your body, you need to insure for that (Disability Insurance).
  • If you own a building, you have to build in the cost to own, insure and maintain that building.
  • Whether you own your building or rent your building, you have to build in costs for utilities.
  • If you own equipment (and what cabinetmaker doesn't), you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for that equipment, and the cost to keep it insured. Keeping in mind that the new breeds of CNC and/or NC equipment lives in dog years (1 year is the equivalent to 7 years).
  • If you own tools (and what cabinetmaker doesn't), you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those tools, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • If you own vehicles, you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those vehicles, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • In additional to covering your labor, you need to cover the cost of labor (i.e., paid vacations and holidays, workers comp insurance and taxes).
  • If you own and use computers, you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those computers, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • If you own and use software, you have to build in the upgrade and support costs for all those software programs.
  • In addition to the direct labor that is part of your cost-of-sales, you must build in indirect administrative labor costs (some portion of your pay might fit right here).
  • If you want to continue your business over many years, and who doesn't, you must build in your cost of sales (advertising, commissions, etc., some portion of your pay might fit here)
  • If you are operating on borrowed money, you must build in the cost of operating on borrowed money.
  • If you breath oxygen and/or have a pulse, you must build in the cost of taxes, lots and lots of taxes.
  • If you breath oxygen and/or have a pulse, you must build in the cost of complying with regulations, lots and lots of regulations.
  • If you want to survive long enough to quote another project, you must build in a healthy profit margin.

I know, it can feel overwhelming to think about, and then you have to think, what if the market won't bear all of this material and labor cost, overhead and profit? AND, how to I apply overhead to a single Project?
Well, back to my earlier quote from an unknown author, "The end depends upon the beginning." Our Estimating System has to be rock solid so we are not guessing at what to charge our customers, and we know that EVERY job is not only covering our costs, but is PROFITABLE.
We will cover these things and so much more during the Effective Estimating session at IWF-2018 in Atlanta, have you signed up yet? You can do that by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post!
 
 

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