Architectural wood ceiling firm hits new heights
October 3, 2016 | 4:18 pm CDT
Brookfield Zoo 9Wood 1.jpg
Brookfield Zoo Ambassador Animal Building, Brookfield, IL. Architect: Booth Hansen. Photo: Steve Hall ©Hedrick Blessing

When it comes to creating memorable wood ceilings, 9Wood scores a 10.

Founded in July 2004, the Springfield, Oregon ceiling manufacturer chose the name 9Wood because it “poetically captured the essence of our identity and it is a kind of address,” said General Manager Charley Coury.

“9” denotes the specification division where architects specify wood ceilings. This is also where ceiling sub-contractors go to find projects to bid. “What we produce is wood ceilings to the architect’s specification,” Coury said. “We don’t’ stock wood or inventory panels.”

Products are manufactured at 9Wood’s 85,000-square-foot facility. The company has approximately 100 employees.

Dominion, Richmond, VA. Architect: PDR Corp. Photo: ©Ansel Olson

“We refer to ourselves as Wood Ceiling Experts – from design to delivery,” Coury added. “With early involvement in the process, we can help our clients make knowledgeable decisions that support their design, and which are also technically viable.”

9Wood’s projects are worldwide. They include: the Texas Oncology department at Baylor University Medical Center; CBC Radio Canada; the Ambassador Animal Building at Illinois’ Brookfield Zoo; UC Berkeley’s Li Ka-Shing Biomedical Center; Passion Fish Restaurant in Washington, DC; Dominion Resources’ tower in Virginia; Oregon’s Colonel Nesmith Readiness Center;  and the Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

Expanding capabilities

It was a project for a leading software manufacturer’s new headquarters that led 9Wood to revamp its cutting processes. “In our work we routinely perform chopping and grading at the chop saw. TigerStop systems consistently demonstrate this ability and assist with increasing yields,” said Greg Wood, process engineer. “However, maximizing yield was not our primary need.  This new project required precision and logistical support to track the 12,000 unique pieces that will fit into a circular ceiling. Building a circular ceiling is a complicated endeavor, only achievable with computer-assisted methods. What we are creating are assemblies that are trapezoid shapes.”

Photo: Michael Roemen, 9Wood

To fabricate these assemblies, 9Wood purchased two TigerStop precision automation systems, and integrated them to three CTD chop saws located in the center. “This unusual configuration of the TigerStop computerized fences allows us to perform precision indexed cutting with repeatability,” Wood said. “We need to produce thousands of unique pieces, most with a 90-degree cut on one end and an alternating oblique/acute angular cut on the other end.  Given the unique pie-shaped segments of the circular building design, the cuts and pieces graduate smaller and smaller. Precision is the key and each cut must be accurate.” 

Wood added, “Another benefit of using TigerStop is it provides useful information about parts.   With thousands of unique pieces, it is crucial to be able to identify each one for assembly purposes, but also it helps if a part needs to be replaced.”

The TigerStop equipment makes it easy to build a database and generate labels, and is simple to operate. “Our work crew appreciates the straightforward and uncomplicated way the TigerStop equipment operates,” Wood said.

“Working with TigerStop has offered a variety of advantages for our company,” Coury said. “They were very hands-on and created a solution that is perfect for our needs. They also paid attention to the little details, which makes a big difference. We felt they were with us at every step, and not just there to sell us something.”

Brookfield Zoo Ambassador Animal Building, Brookfield, IL. Architect: Booth Hansen. Photo: Steve Hall ©Hedrick Blessing

The TigerStop equipment is an integral part of 9Wood’s plans to implement a new grading and inventory process, and also its future projects.  “We provide something that is beautiful as well as utilitarian. Our products combine the technical with craftsmanship,” Coury said.

“We are shooting for what John Naisbitt discussed in his books Megatrends and High Tech High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning,” he added. “Wood ceilings offer the beauty of high touch in a high-tech world. They are beautiful and offer sound absorption, which makes an interior space more livable. There isn’t a modern building being built today where we don’t think of sound and the effect it has on an interior environment. This is the heart of what we do: making ceilings more beautiful and functional.”

Sponsored by TigerStop. For information on TigerStop’s precise cutting automation, visit

For more on 9Wood’s architectural ceilings, visit

Passion Fish Restaurant, Washington, DC. Photo: @Kathleen Warren

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About the author
Jo-Ann Kaiser

Jo-Ann Kaiser has been covering the woodworking industry for 31+ years. She is a contributing editor for the Woodworking Network and has been writing the Wood of the Month column since its inception in 1986.