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Biophilia - What is it?

26. April 2018 11:51

By Jessica McNaughton, CaraGreen

Biophilia? No, it is not some nefarious relationship with plants. Well, not entirely. This hot new design trend is not some “look” or color scheme, it’s a set of design techniques that put people before profits in building construction. While some people are quick to put biophilic design in the category of “another green building standard,” it is absolutely not.

Biophilic design has made its entrée into the design community with data in hand to back up its claims. Unlike some other green building standards, which needed to be put in place and operated for some time in order to prove that they were worthwhile (think Green Globes, LEED), Biophilic principles have existed for decades and their results are widely known. It is just now that design professionals and researchers are pulling these together en masse and presenting them under the umbrella of biophilic design.

There are three pillars of Biophilic Design: Nature in the Space, Nature of the Space and Natural Analogues. To simplify, Nature in the Space is literally incorporating nature into the space. Adding water, plants, fish ponds, herbs etc.

By definition, humans are drawn to nature and natural things. Nature stimulates the parasympathetic system and lowers stress. Studies have shown that walks outside, being around trees and nature in general lower stress levels. Studies also show that employees are more productive, hospital stays are shorter, and patients use less medication when biophilic design is used.* The data exists and it is compelling. That is why the architect and design community is embracing the biophilic concepts in their upcoming projects. It is not a ground-up concept either; biophilic design can be incorporated after the fact using plants or greenery, reconfiguring furniture, incorporating sound control or in a myriad of other ways.

Biophilic design is not a credit based standard either, where you need to achieve a number of points in order to hit a certification level. It is not some placard you mount on your building to give yourselves a high-five for building green. It is about the health of the building occupants and it is not an all-or-nothing approach. You can use one design element or hundreds of instances. It is whatever works for your space.




26. April 2018 11:46

By: Bill Boxer, Modern Finishing Products, Inc.

Every industry has its innovation and growth. Spray finishing technology is no exception.

Flashback to 1984 and the new buzz word in finishing circles was HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) as this alternative spray finishing technology began to take hold and new-found importance.

As we began to look more seriously at environmental concerns we had a technology that promised less overspray and higher transfer efficiency. Early certified testing showed efficiency over 80% which meant 80%+ paint staying on a substrate as opposed to lower percentages with traditional spray painting methods. This interpreted to less pollutants (VOC’s) in the environment along with dramatic paint savings in the finishing environment.

Two developments in HVLP technology emerged. One, turbine or turbospray technology, the origin of HVLP dating back to the early 1960’s (under the name turbo spray) and then modified conventional spray gun technology to enable conventional spray guns to meet the HVLP standard of 10psi or less maximum atomizing pressure.

HVLP Turbine or turbospray technology opened many new spray finishing opportunities since it is portable, uses standard electricity and as already noted dramatically reduces overspray. Paint spraying in environments that were previously impossible now became reality. Additional benefits of HVLP Turbospray technology were a continuous source of clean, dry air with no water or oil contamination.

Compressed air HVLP spray guns provided options for spray finishers and shops that had adequate compressors and did not have the need for portability.

Early HVLP found great benefits in the woodworking environment from small home shops to professional cabinet shops and even some larger factory applications where off-line projects could be easily sprayed. Other industries quickly discovered the features and benefits of using HVLP spray finishing technology.

Today, HVLP has established itself as an important technology as part of the greater spray finishing market from woodworking to fine automotive spray finishing.

 To learn more about this topic, check out Bill's session "HLVP Turbospray Technology, Past-Present-Future" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.


Do you know what your business is worth?

24. April 2018 15:39

By: Jack West, Federated Insurance

Often, shop owners who are ready to get out of the business simply opt for selling off their equipment at auction and leave it at that. However, it’s important to think about this critical topic long before you are ready to move on. Ideally, you should have an exit plan established the day you start your company. That being said, if you haven’t thought about this yet it’s not too late to start the process.

So how do you set up your woodworking business for eventual sale and maximize its value? To start, you need to know what banks and buyers will be looking for; how to get it all in order; valuation methods; timelines; real-world expectations and common pitfalls. Successful business successions don’t just happen, they require planning and implementation.

Easier said than done, right?

The obvious first step is determining your overall objectives. Do you want to make more money while you own the business? Or perhaps you want to have more free time while you own the business? Maybe you are interested in having enough money for a good life after leaving the business. Or do you want to keep the business in the family?

The ultimate question is what kind of lifestyle do you need (or want) on complete retirement? This involves determining a “reasonable” budget as well as a “stretch” budget. Then you need to be realistic calculating the amount that you currently have saved and also how much more you will need to get where you want to be.

Once you’ve determined what you want, your insurance company is a good place to go next. Many insurance providers, like Federated Insurance, offer valuation services as part of their packages. They can refer you to an attorney who is an expert on the subject and can assist you through the process.

For more tips about how to sell your company, attend the IWF seminar “Building a valuable business”.




The struggles of running a small shop

24. April 2018 15:33

By: Dan Moshe, Tech Guru and Caring Technology Company

If you are the owner, leader or manager of an entrepreneurial organization, it's a given that you want to see your business consistently run better and grow more quickly. But even the most successful entrepreneurs find that running a business can be more challenging than they expected. Many regularly grapple with a variety of problems – a lack of control over time, the market or the company; people not listening, understanding, or following through; profit (or lack thereof); an inability to break through to the next level of growth; and “magic pill” solutions that don’t prove to be very magical. If these problems seem all too familiar, you’re not alone.

I’ve found that this resonates even more in the woodworking industry since many of the small business owners are craftsmen at their core. They may not have any formal training in managing a business, but they are the masters of their craft. Typically, these two skill sets are not found in the same person.  Craftsmen are truly artists – they are creative and passionate. Businessmen, on the other hand, are analytical and logical. A creative-analytical person is truly unique and hard to come by, yet there are ways to harness business skills for even the most creative craftsman.

Successful small shop owners don’t necessarily have to possess the required skills to effectively run their business, because there are resources they can take advantage of.  One of the ways to help craftsmen manage their business is to create systems. These systems can be as simple as paper checklists or as robust as project management software. You could still be using a Rolodex to manage your contacts or perhaps you’ve implemented a full-scale CRM. Whatever you choose to use, systems help streamline processes and procedures so you can run your business – instead of it running you.

Learn more about creating systems to manage your business, in my seminar during IWF: “Are you running your business or is it running you?





Metal Resin Casting: Making a Metal Cabinet Pull or Finial in 30 Minutes or Less

23. April 2018 11:17

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: ScottGrove.com

Why would you spend hours laboring over a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture only to add a piece of store-bought hardware that your neighbor has on his kitchen cabinets? This demonstration is about mold making and cold metal resin casting used to create or reproduce a cabinet pull or finial in just about any form or texture, whether it’s a found object such as a pine cone, a hand-sculpted object, or even your big toe.

For less than five dollars each and in 20 minutes time, you can make your own unique cast object that is durable and has the look and feel of real metal using smooth-on casting products.

This process can help to embellish your work with unique details and avoid chain-store-bought hardware, cabinet pulls, finials, or ornamentation. Adding these accent metal features can be the perfect icing on the cake. No special equipment is required and casting can be easier than baking that cake.

I’ll cover a few basic concepts and show you how to create simple forms out of cold cast resin bronze, brass, or aluminum using Smooth-On mold making materials. You’ll personalize your work even more and take it to the next level.

Join me for "Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment" on Friday, August 24th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


The decision to transition to in-house finishing

23. April 2018 11:13

By: Diane Shattuck, Gemini Coatings

Congratulations on making the big decision to transition to in-house finishing. You have crunched the numbers, but the cost of outsourcing is only part of the equation. It’s truly the cost coupled with your concerns about quality that pushed you over the edge.

Admit it: you are a control freak. You are willing to invest the money for an in-house finishing program because you can no longer afford to sacrifice quality. You need to control this part of your business as you control the rest.  And I’ll agree that that is important.

However, you are wondering if it is possible to profitably do this. Ultimately that’s the goal, right? I hope you’re in business to make money. Even though you love the craft of working with wood, at the end of the day there are bills to pay and mouths to feed. So how can you transition to in-house finishing profitably? Let me give you a few pointers:

Ask questions

Seek the advice of others who already do their own in-house finishing. Learn from them, particularly their mistakes. One place you can do this is in the Cabinet Makers Association’s online forums.  This is an invaluable resource for members who want to hear what others have done.

Find partners

It’s important here to differentiate between a supplier and a partner. A supplier is a sales person who simply pushes their product on you. A true partner is someone who cares about the success of you and your business.

Trial and error

Experiment with different products, recipes, and equipment. A lot can depend on your environment, the humidity, etc. but you won’t know unless you try.

Hire well

Admittedly finding a quality finisher isn’t easy. It’s one of the most critical functions in the production process, and taking the time to find an experienced worker is worth it.

To learn more about “Transitioning to in-house finishing – profitably” register to attend my seminar during IWF.



Lessons learned in Iraq aid in leadership role

19. April 2018 11:06

By: Guy Bucey, Inova

After two tours as a Marine in Irag, I came home in 2009 with a broken foot and PTSD. I started working with wood as a form of therapy.

After I was released from the military, I was looking for a job to harness my woodworking skills and new newfound passion for working with wood. Inova offered me a job as floor manager, and I jumped at the opportunity to turn his hobby into a career. Inova is based in Altamont, New York and specializes in wall beds and other niche small-space furniture.

I was fortunate to quickly work my way up the corporate ladder. I am now the Director of Operations for the company. Although I’m not exactly working with wood hands-on, I do love overseeing the daily logistics of the manufacturing plant.

My career in woodworking wouldn’t have been possible without Iraq. It was there that I learned the leadership skills that now drive my decisions made at Inova.

In Iraq, I learned that every Marine is a leader, so one of the first major changes I brought to Inova was to ditch the idea of factory workers versus sales staff versus office staff. Instead we brought everyone in as equal employees. Part of that process involved trusting them to address their own problems. One of the ways I helped them do this was by holding daily meetings for them to address their concerns.

 Another lesion I learned in Iraq was to lead from the front. At Inova, I don’t ask someone to do something that I haven’t done or wouldn’t do myself.

 I’ll admit that I did face some struggles while I was adapting to the civilian way of thinking. In the military the focus is on building up the weaker links, but in the business world if someone isn’t doing their job, you can simply fire him/her. I really struggle with the easy answer to just fire an employee.

 During my seminar at IWF, I will speak more about my experiences, both in Iraq and at Inova. I encourage you to attend my session, "The Power of Leadership: Keeping Employees Inspired for the Long Run" to learn more about my leadership style.


High-End Architectural Millwork

18. April 2018 13:38

By: Brent Hull, Hull Historical

As we continue into 2018, I want to encourage you to continue to strive for quality and beauty. I was in the shop the other day to check in on the progress of our current projects and found something that really made me proud of my guys. It was a solution to a door construction issue that no one will ever see, but could have been very ugly if they hadn’t fixed it.

Here’s what they did.

Background: Five years ago, we decided that every exterior door built would be made with stave cores parts. A stave core means the inside of the door is made up of smaller glued together parts. These parts make the door more stable.

We want everything that comes out of our shop to last at least 100 years and we think this type of construction is a superior method. It insures that our doors won’t twist and warp. Best of all, there is great historic precedent for this construction method. We have found in our restoration work that the highest quality doors from the late 1890’s into the 1930’s were made this way.

The challenge for this project was that we are building these doors out of quarter-sawn white oak. When the profile was cut into the stile our thick veneer was clearly visible on the edge illustrated by the sketch below.

However, our craftsmen realized the solution was to insert a wedge of quarter-sawn lumber into the edge so that it hides the joint, but also still appeared to be quarter-sawn on both sides.

I think this is a great example of a passion for craft. This passion drives us to build better and build more beautifully. I’m sure there are other great solutions for this issue. If you have any let me know.


How well do you understand diversity?

18. April 2018 13:33

By: Whitney Pyle, COO/Co-Owner: JG Bowers, Inc. and Advanced Cabinet Systems

Understanding all the various dimensions of diversity and how they impact the members of your organization will help you understand your workforce and build a more cohesive team and a more successful business. When thinking about diversity in the workplace, many times people only think about the primary dimensions of diversity; however, there are several dimensions of diversity that must be considered.

The primary dimensions of diversity are race/ethnicity, age, physical abilities/qualities, sexual orientation, gender, and religious beliefs. The secondary dimensions of diversity are just as important to consider. The secondary dimensions of diversity are work background, income, marital status, military experience, geographic locale, family background, and education. There are other dimensions of diversity that we don’t always think about, but that can have a great impact on our interactions in the workplace are language and communications – not just the language a person speaks, but also a person’s preference on how they send or receive communication with one another; appearance (including tattoos, piercing, and hairstyles), food preferences, and eating habits, allergies and other medical conditions, whether a person lives by the clock or is more lackadaisical when it comes to punctuality, preferred and most productive time of the day, flexibility, personal space preferences, how much of area do they require, smoking and non-smoking. Everything that makes up a person can be considered dimensions of diversity.

Each dimension of diversity adds a layer of complexity to individual identity. Together, the dimensions of diversity give definition and meaning to people’s lives and allow people to connect with others. Connecting with others is one of the best ways to ensure the long-term success of your workforce and your business as a whole. In coming articles and blogs I’ll discuss why it’s important to understand diversity and it’s many dimensions as well as how you can leverage diversity to benefit your company and your people.

To learn more on this topic come check out the "Diversity and inclusion in our Industry" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.


Water occasionally

17. April 2018 12:04

By: Joe Knobbe, Senior Project Manager: Exclusive Woodworking, Inc.

At my company, Exclusive Woodworking, relationships are built over a period of years and nurtured on a regular basis. These relationships take years to grow, but once they’re established they only need frequent “watering”.

Admittedly, the architect and interior designer each have a certain aura. Architects are notorious for being aloof and intellectual, while designers' creative flair leaves them with a reputation of being fussy and difficult to please.

Unfortunately, those stereotypes scare some millwork professionals away, keeping them from making contact. When they do try, they are left frustrated, grumbling about how all those stereotypes are true. Occasionally, they'll bid on a project and waste hours trying to interpret specifications that seem to call for outdated products in all the wrong places.

Yet, there are others in the industry whose businesses flourish because of their connections to those two groups. Local architects and interior designers turn to them almost exclusively when they need help trying to write specifications for a project or are looking for design ideas.

Become a Resource

To be fair to the profession, architects must be visionary designers of structures and also technicians with at least some working knowledge of roughly 250,000 component parts of a project. Cabinetry and millwork is only a very small part of that total. It’s no wonder that the attention paid to the millwork specification by the architect often seems cursory.

This is where you come in. You can provide a valuable informational and educational service to design professionals that ultimately works to your mutual benefit. There is nothing better than a clear and accurate, use-appropriate product specification -- and nothing worse than one which is vague or sloppily written.

Have you ever seen in a spec for a project where they might call out a self-close, soft-close side-mount fully-concealed under-mount drawer slide full-extension with over-travel? Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but I have seen similar specs in bid documents.

You could take the typical approach and send an RFI for clarification or you could take a different approach, like we do at Exclusive. An approach we use is when there is a spec for expensive material or hardware, we provide pricing based on the actual spec AND also alternative pricing based on other options we recommend.

This is just one example of using an opportunity to get in front of a design professional and using it to your advantage. To learn more, attend “Working with Architects and Designers” during IWF.