Quarter Point Woodworking - Small Shop Goes CNC
August 14, 2011 | 6:04 pm CDT

After 25 years at sea as a Merchant Marine officer, Robert Small hoped that when the time came to come ashore, he would be able to make a business out of his hobby and second love: woodworking. But, he says, he wanted to be different from every other person with a small shop and a table saw.

“I had to have something different,” says Small. “In researching the latest technology in the woodworking business, I came upon CNC routers.”

Small purchased a Komo VR 510 Mach II SHO CNC router, which uses a Bosch Rexroth FAR rotating nut ball screw for high-speed, high-load capacity and precise positioning. He then trained at the Komo plant in Minnesota to use the new machine. He says Quarter Point Woodworking, the Windham, ME-based company he started in December 2004 with his wife Deborah, has set up its whole business plan around the machine.

“For a small, start-up woodworker, the Komo router allows us to be competitive. We’re able to handle large production orders for contract manufacturing while still remaining cost-effective for short-run piece work,” he says. A Bosch Rexroth Ball Rail system supports the load and minimizes friction to allow for higher speeds. In addition to the router, the company also uses a 10-inch Model 66 table saw, Model 27 shaper, 12-inch jointer and 22-inch planer, all by Powermatic, a 43-inch thickness sander by Timesaver, a W&H moulder by Williams & Hussey and a dust collector from Donaldson Torit.

Quarter Point Woodworking
Windham, ME

Quarter Point Woodworking is a Windham, ME-based company specializing in manufacturing cabinet parts and furniture in its 2,000-square-foot shop.

Three Keys

  1. The use of a CNC router has made it possible to keep the workforce small while the business grows.
  2. Quarter Point Woodworking focuses on making cabinet parts and other products that are done more easily with the router than by traditional methods.
  3. Quarter Point Woodworking has developed its own line of furniture, which includes blanket chests, occasional tables, office furniture and multi-purpose tabletops.
This kidney-shaped table was manufactured using the Komo VR 510 Mach II S CNC router. Quarter Point Woodworking builds cabinet parts in addition to furniture.

Quality Over Quantity

Not only are the owners named Small, but the workforce at Quarter Point Woodworking is “small” as well, with only one employee, Bruce Flanders, a master cabinetmaker with extensive residential and commercial experience.

“His knowledge has been invaluable with getting Quarter Point Woodworking going, and has allowed us to take in some high-end work while trying to grow the CNC business,” Small says. Having so few employees has also kept Small busy in many different aspects of a project, from meeting with clients to designing and cutting parts on the router.

“With Bruce’s background, and the desire to keep the number of employees small, our focus has been to be a job-type shop making the router and its capabilities available to other woodworkers in the area,” says Small. He adds that the company has also done projects such as curved countertops and exterior brackets for historic buildings.

Owner Robert Small says the CNC router allows Quarter Point Woodworking to handle large production orders while still remaining cost-effective for short-run piece work.

Loyal Clients, Steady Growth

According to Small, Quarter Point Woodworking’s clients typically are other cabinet shops looking for more efficient processes and residential homebuilders looking for custom touches for the homes they are building.

“We have several clients who have been with us from the beginning and are finding that the service we provide — making truly square and precise parts — certainly is increasing their productivity. Also, whenever we can get clients to see the versatility of our router, projects that were difficult or impossible can now be done with a little bit of thought,” he says. “Obviously, anything that involves curves or geometric shapes gets much easier with CNC.”

Small adds that the company hopes to partner with enough other businesses to keep its growth steady. “We are still looking for that unique part that can be our anchor, but until then, we are happy with the direction we are heading,” he says. In addition, the company has also developed its own line of cabinets and furniture, which include blanket chests, occasional tables, office furniture and multi-purpose tabletops.

Small says that everything the company makes adheres to strict quality standards. “We always try to give the best product,” he says. “I think what I am most proud of is the relationships we have with our clients and the enjoyment of working on many different projects with them. I feel that this validates my original thoughts on this business and makes me feel that the plan is good and will be successful.”

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