Combinations of hardwoods are used to produce intricate parquet designs such as Chateau,
featured here.

Before starting any intricate design work, Winneconne, WI-based Oshkosh Designs reaches into its heart — of wood, that is.

“We always ask for the heart,” said Brenda Kubasta, president. “It’s more cost-effective to get select and better grades, because the next grade down has a lot of sap and knots,” she said. This is critical because of the fine inlay and etching that is used to create the company’s medallions, borders and parquet designs for use in flooring, stair risers, treads, chair rails, ceilings and backsplashes.

In creating the “standout” designs, Oshkosh Designs uses a variety of materials, including domestic and exotic hardwoods, natural stone, metal and glass. Popular species include: red and white oak, maple, black walnut, American cherry, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, santos mahogany, poplar, wenge, purpleheart and ash. Ipe, bubinga and yellowheart are also in demand.

In addition to is standard offerings, Oshkosh Designs says it will resize, reshape or change the materials in a product to suit customers’ decor. The company also offers a custom design service.

Oshkosh Designs offers a wide selection of medallion patterns, including Del Sol, Ashanti
and La Jolla.

Intricate Machining
Inside the 65,000-square-foot facility, the company performs both design creation and all machining.

To begin the manufacturing process, boards are carefully inspected and then sent to the rough mill area. There, the conveyor on the Cameron Automation OptiRip places the boards, one at a time, on a series of belts. Sensors measure the length and width of the boards before they are passed under a series of laser lights, which shows the operator the optimum rip combination based on the measured width.

Pieces are hand inserted into templates.

From there, they are sent to the Mereen-Johnson 431 gang ripsaw, which has variable feed for cutting the lumber to size. “We go from 4/4 to 2/4,” says Kubasta, adding that the company can also do custom widths. Also utilized on the shop floor are Pistorius saws.

Integral to the manufacturing process are two LMI lasers, used for etching and cutting the intricate wood parts used for inlays used in the medallions and borders. Approximately 80 percent of Oshkosh Designs’ business is wood, while the remaining 20 percent is stone such as marble, granite, slate or travertine, glass and other materials. A waterjet laser, located in another area of the facility, is used to cut the stone, glass and non-ferrous metals.

After cutting, the small parts are hand assembled into the intricate patterns. Water-based adhesive is used to mount the parts into place. Then, if required, the assembled components are run through a Cemco sander before being finished on the automated Deimco line which uses water-based finishing materials.

The use of water-based products is part of the company’s advocacy for green manufacturing, Kubasta says. In addition, the hardwood inlay and parquet wear layers are 5/16 inch to conserve hardwood, the company says, and, when possible, Oshkosh Designs purchases its lumber from Smart Wood and other certified suppliers. Other ways in which the company is reducing its footprint is by recycling its sawdust to local farmers.

Click here to see a video of the wood laser
machining process at Oshkosh Designs.

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