Woodland Furniture combined custom finishes, carvings and special details to produce a kitchen that was recognized by the industry. The Idaho Falls, Idaho, company won the Cabinet Makers Association “Best of” overall Wood Diamond Award for a high-end kitchen.

The kitchen was entered under the category of “Kitchen Finish over $50,000” in the CMA Wood Diamond competition.

“This kitchen represents everything we do as much as anything we’ve ever done,” said Woodland Furniture’s Dan O'Handley. “I think the combination of the carved elements, the metalwork, the hand finishes and intricate design show our ability to provide an artisan level project on every detail.”

 

O’Handley said the main characteristics of the award-winning kitchen were the architectural elements, carvings and finishes, and they were also the biggest challenges. The carvings are all done by hand and the company’s two full-time wood carvers were going full-tilt for several months to get through the whole project.

“In the kitchen we had a heavily carved, curved island with a cast pewter countertop and decorative beams with radius crown moulding and carved medallions,” O’Handley said. “The perimeter cabinetry featured antique glass, custom metal grid work, hand-distressed planked backs in exposed cabinets, cast bronze corbels, a carved window valance and bonnet hood, not to mention all the bells and whistles inside.”

The cabinetry was primarily made from superior-grade clear alder solid exteriors with alder plywood box construction and solid alder dovetail drawer boxes.

This was a renovation project for a designer. Woodland provided detailed concept drawings and CAD as well as several carving and finish samples to get the project through the design process.

The perimeter cabinetry and millwork has a hand dry brushed stain over alder with the island finished in a 'Pomegranate' dry brushed paint. The upper cabinetry includes antiqued glass doors with custom metal grill work. The mail center cabinetry includes some very unusual interior storage options and pull-outs as well as intricate grill work detail.

“We also did several heavily carved arched entryways, egg-and-dart base and crown moulding, a really cool hidden pantry door, and even a little hand-carved mouse nestled in the base moulding of one of the cabinets, which is a signature element from one of our Woodland furniture pieces. On top of that, the customer selected decorative hardware that could only be described as ‘jewelry for cabinets’.”

Woodland Furniture also recently completed a local project that came very close in terms of the elements included in this project.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be partnered locally with Harker Design, who brings in very interesting and creative work, rivaling this project.” O’Handley said. “They are the design talent behind Woodland Furniture and put together a home that featured the best of what Woodland can do: Lighting, metalwork, furniture, upholstery and rugs, all custom and beautifully executed.”

 

Fine finishing

O’Handley said that Woodland Furniture is especially good at finishes.

“We built our business on providing the best furniture finishes available and if we’re known for anything, it’s for the beauty of our finishes,” he said. “We’re not afraid to experiment with new materials, equipment or techniques and we are always on the lookout for what will inspire. We’ve conquered very clean and technical finishes as well as the more artistic and process-intensive furniture-grade finishes we started out doing.”

The main finishing area consists of a large dual open spray booth with a spray area and a hand application area. Finishers are cross-trained on all techniques and equipment to keep up with the variety of processes they might tackle on any given day. Woodland mixes all of their paints and stains in house and has a separate finishing development area with its own open spray booth.

Two shops

All cabinetry and millwork is made in Idaho Falls, and furniture and lighting is created in the company’s shop in Ensenada, Mexico. The Idaho Falls shop is approximately 30,000 square feet.

The company has several support cells that feed the final assembly and finishing area. Some products are finished before assembly and some after but most everything heads in a more linear direction from the rough mill through finishing and then on to shipping.

Equipment includes a Kentwood gang rip saw, DMS three-axis CNC machine (they are adding a Homag Centateq N-500 CNC machining center), Butfering and AEM Timesavers widebelt sanders, Weinig Quattromat moulder, Bosch router and Denray downdraft tables.

O’Handley said that the company is in the process of upgrading their CNC machine and moulder to more high volume options and getting as much of their equipment as they can capable of screen-to-machine operation.

Software strategies

Woodland Furniture has several software programs. A full-time developer keeps and improves the main customer order and product information database. The system has grown to accommodate order entry and production management for multiple product lines, O’Handley said.

The developer works with key people from customer service to shipping to improve information flow and streamline the ability to take something from concept to completion.

For semi-custom cabinetry the company uses Cabinet Vision to draw and communicate with equipment, and for custom projects they use AutoCAD. They are also currently working on a web-based design and pricing tool that they plan to release to kitchen designers that will feature the semi-custom cabinetry line. Designers will have the ability to access the tool from the web and can lay out a room and drop cabinetry in and get pricing as they go.

Speaking about Woodland Furniture’s continuous improvement, O’Handley said there is room for more progress.

“There is tremendous potential for elimination of time and mistakes with the tools available today,” he said. “We want to be recognized as much for being on the leading edge of technology in our industry as we are today for our finishes.”

Committed to continuous improvement

Woodland Furniture’s Dan O'Handley said the best tool they have for continuous improvement is their people. “We cultivate quality at the source and don’t promote top-down leadership,” he said. “We have a continuous improvement philosophy that stems from our early days of growing our furniture capacity and keeping up with 50 percent annual growth as we expanded into a national high-end furniture brand.

“In 2002 we won a Shingo prize for our excellence in manufacturing and the pressure to grow really fueled our creativity and dedication to efficiency. Being a cabinet shop that started out primarily building furniture gave us a great foundation for thinking about ways to eliminate waste and increase volume in some way, even if the work that came through was like nothing before.”

Through Woodland’s lean training, they have embraced cellular flow, breaking down and simplifying processes, using 5-S principles and cross-training. They have also come up with some creative dedicated machines and tools to help with their unique distressing and finishing methods and have held many Kaizen events.

“Along with constantly improving our communication tools, our big focus today is in improving the customer experience and simplifying the way customers work with us and the way we work with our customers and suppliers (and ourselves),” O’Handley said.

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