Reinventing the Stone - Natural Stone Veneers for Millworkers

By Matt Schumake | Posted: 06/13/2014 4:26PM

 

Thick stone slabs are prized for appearance and durability, but in certain areas of millwork they aren't practical.

In developing its natural thin stone veneer surfaces, Earth Anatomy Fabrication set out to fill those specific gaps—laying up its stone veneer on wood panels.

Its sheets of marble, granite, onyx and travertine are cut as thin as 1 mm and backed with a fiberglass resin, making them suitable for various areas of panel manufacturing and design.

Vertical millwork and wooden fixtures are on the top of the list for company founder Chad Williams, along with areas where weight restrictions are a top priority, such as interiors for airplanes and luxury yachts.

“We’re looking to expand the uses of thin stone through millwork supply chains that have not been truly explored” Williams says.

Full Circle at IWF

As one of 20 finalists in the 2014 IWF Challengers Award program, Earth Anatomy Fabrication will travel to the International Woodworking Fair on August 19 to present its natural thin stone veneer surfaces to a panel of judges— industry professionals focused on innovation in woodworking machinery, supplies, and services.

“It’s a huge honor. We’re very excited.” Williams noted on the nomination. “We’re looking forward to presenting to the judges and seeing where we fall in the woodworking industry.”

That event will complete a full circle for Earth Anatomy Fabrication—one that began in 2010 when Williams and his team first exhibited their product at IWF. The discussions that year opened them to the idea of bringing natural stone veneers to the millwork industry, and they have since moved forward with plans to tailor the natural stone veneers for architects, builders, product designers, and woodworkers.

Currently, such veneers are only available to large-scale commercial builders, with minimum orders of approximately 1,076 square feet. Williams says he is looking forward to expanding in the residential market—making the stone veneers available to homeowners and millworkers.

In addition to supplying contractors with large-volume orders, the Williams and his team have developed their own facility to produce custom wood products with thin stone veneer surfaces.

Recently, they completed a massive order of floor-to-ceiling stone-veneered fixtures throughout the Marriott International resort in Marco Island, FL. The convex panels showcase the flexibility of the thin stone in its application as a surface for millwork.

“We do everything by hand at this point,” Earth Anatomy co-founder R.J. Thacker notes. “Well, we do 60% - 70% of it by hand, 30% of it by CNC technology.”

In cutting the thin stone for custom wood fixtures, the Earth Anatomy Fabrication team has been posed with a challenge: developing an environment for cutting both materials. Currently, a wet cutting area is dedicated to fabrication of the thin stone. Wood production machines are housed in another.

As the “wet-dry environment” becomes more of a necessity, Thacker plans on working with manufacturers of three- and five-axis CNC machines to develop a single table for fabricating both wood and stone.

More Than Millstone

Earth Anatomy—a division of Grizzly Partners—was founded in June, 2008 by R.J. Thacker and Josh Morgan. Thacker, a healthcare consultant and Fleet Marine Force Navy Corpsman, set his focus on global business and economic development while studying political science at Cleveland State University. Morgan, who co-founded the company Intense Database, served with Thacker in Operation Iraqi freedom and holds a Purple Heart from wounds sustained from a roadside bomb.

In March 2013, Earth Anatomy Fabrication, LLC, was established. Headed by Chad Williams, it pursues its mission to outfit the design community with unique building and surface finishing materials with our unique natural thin stone veneers. Williams, also a veteran, says that in addition to developing global outreach and connecting with customers in the millworking industry, the team is looking forward to growing and providing opportunities for service-disabled veterans.

As a company owned entirely by service-disabled veterans, and a division of Grizzly Partners—named in honor of three US Marines who lost their lives on Main Supply Route Grizzly in Iraq—Earth Anatomy sees the opportunity for growth as a way to create jobs for veterans.

“We want to offer a workplace with a strong innovative product that veterans can come back to and work in,” Thacker says.

By finding a way to make stones bend and not break, Earth Anatomy seems to have both strength and innovation covered.


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About the Author

Matt Schumake

As a writer for Custom Woodworking Business, Wood & Wood Products and WoodworkingNetwork.com, Matt reports on tools, trends, innovations and business methods in the woodworking industry. His experience spans e-commerce and marketing, and he specializes in developing web and media presence for businesses small and large. In addition to writing, Matt builds custom wood furniture pieces at his home in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at mschumake@vancepublishing.com

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