Raising the curtain on better finishing
September 10, 2011 | 7:00 pm CDT

Wood Company Inc. specializes in woodwork, wood paneling, casework, exotic and domestic veneers and trim for hotels, casinos and other projects, with an emphasis on a good finish.

"We are an architectural woodworking company," Dave Henshaw, chief operating officer at Wood Company, told CabinetMaker+FDM. "We do high end hotel, casino, golf and social club interiors as well as law offices. We fabricate, finish and install all over the South and Caribbean." 

Henshaw says that finishing and complex projects, including radius work, are a specialty.

This company does quality woodwork in a high production setting. A new 6,500 square foot finishing department with in-line finishing machine, sanding area and spray booth, enables the Clearwater, Fla., company to turn out 2,400 feet of raw veneer, ready to package.

The company began operations in 1976 as a teak importer, which led to its entry into the yachting industry as a supplier of lumber, trim, and components. With a weakening market at the time, Wood Company entered the architectural woodwork industry while continuing to fabricate millwork, exotic and domestic veneers, wall panels and stile and rail doors.

Today, most of the company’s work consists of millwork jobs for corporate, hotel and casino interiors; yacht, golf and country clubs; judicial and government buildings. Henshaw told CabinetMaker+FDM that projects include the Peabody Hotel, Marriott New Orleans, Ritz Carlton Amelia Island and Marriott Buckhead.

The company's 50 employees also produce wood components, such as complex solid lumber moulding runs, reception desks, concierge desks, bellman's stations. Equipment includes CNC saws, CNC routers, edgebanders, moulders and widebelt sanders.

"We have in house engineering and project management," Henshaw told CabinetMaker+FDM. "Once detailed and approved (work) goes through our production supervisor for cutbilling and major vendor orders. Depending on what is being build it may go thru our CNC saw for cutting and machining, or over to our rough mill for straightline, profile grinding and moulder oerations. We have a full laminate department for repetitious box constructions, to multiple workbenches for custom architectural woodwork by talented craftsmen. Everything finished then goes into our conditioned air finishing department which utilizes our finishing line.

“We’ve assembled a team that does very high-quality woodwork so I want to make sure the finish is excellent, too," Henshaw says. "We believe our finishing quality to be among the best in the industry, and strive to always maintain it.”

Upgrading finishing 

Wood Company upgraded and expanded its finishing department to remain innovative. Henshaw decided to partition the new building into three parts using Goff’s Curtain Walls. One is for the in-line spray machine, the other is a spray booth and the other is a sanding area. The curtain wall separates the spray booth from the sanding area. There are two fans on each side.

The curtain wall creates the 20 x 40 foot sanding area, where the curtain section demarcates one side of the area and then forms a corner, meeting up with the solid wall to form a room. “The arrangement,” says Henshaw, “works out beautifully with tie downs connecting the curtain wall panels to the floor.”

In effect, the 14-foot-high curtain walls enable them to have a clean room without the expense and limitations of erecting solid walls and fabricating venting runs.

“We get no air infiltration in or out of the area. The curtain walls block the entry of dust. At the open top, clean air can circulate, giving the spot its own positive airflow, its own dust collection system and its own fume collection system – it’s all self-contained.”

The employees there have the ability to handle 35-foot long bars when they open the curtain or if need be they can double the size of their spray room. Goff’s curtains have toothed brass grommets placed one-foot on center along the top for attachment to rollers on the 16 gauge galvanized steel track system. At floor level the curtains attach to one another with two-inch industrial Velcro. To enter the area an operator simply slides the curtains out of the way.

The finishing department is a self-contained building, adjacent to the 30,000 foot production building. Their loading dock is between the two, enabling them to wheel the work straight in from manufacturing through a big electric rollup door. The work goes to the right if it needs to be sanded. The next step is the finishing application and then finally to the hand finishing area.

“The curtain walls save us the expense of building costly walls for many reasons," says Henshaw.

He points out that unlike solid walls, there is no need to file building permits and be subjected to inspections. The curtain walls enable them to reconfigure the floor layout if their needs change, without calling an architect and a contractor.

“Our biggest deal,” Henshaw notes, “is one day we can be doing 16 foot pieces of trim and the next day we can have a 75 foot long bar in the spray area. We don’t have to worry about what size (of) work we want to take in the future or turn down bids on certain projects. Floor area is not a limitation. These are big factors.”

This building itself is well insulated with a complete HVAC system to control temperatures and the Florida humidity. Considering their focus on the finish it was important to them to completely separate this operation from production.

They have the curtain walls suspended within three feet of the ceiling. In this area the clean air can air condition or heat the whole building instead of having ductwork all over the building. The temperature and humidity to the whole building is consistent and dust is not collecting on the product.

The curtain walls have clear 20 mil middle sections, which are attached to opaque top/bottom sections made of 14 oounce vinyl. The curtain panels are designed to be fire retardant, meeting NFPA-701 Test for Fire Resistance as well as the California State Fire Marshall Standard.

"We do a very good job in our finishing department, despite the problems we continue to experience with our (inline finishing system)," Henshaw told CabinetMaker+FDM. "We also utilize a large area of conventional spray applications for larger pieces. " 

Output quadrupled 

“Our output has roughly quadrupled,” Henshaw explains. “This increase in production comes with the added benefit of a much more consistent finish color and sheen — as well as a more efficient transfer of material and less waste.”

The company’s finishing department consists of six employees — four cross-trained on conventional spray applications, as well as setup and operation of the Superfici line finishing system.

“All of our colors are mixed in-house to conform to any designer’s nuances,” Henshaw says. “The (finishing) line has streamlined the workflow in the department, freeing up employees to produce the labor-intensive hand-wiped oil finish stains and hand-glazed finishes we continue to apply,” he says. “While you can’t use [the line] to do glazed finishes, you can use it to apply consistent topcoats, stains. It’s not just speed; it’s a quality issue.”

“With our line finishing capabilities now up and running, a UV cure will be added and more eco-friendly, waterborne finishes instituted,” Henshaw explains. “This should, in turn, put us on the cutting edge with respect to not only the important environmental issues our industry faces, but also speed up drying times resulting in more efficient throughput of material.”

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About the author
Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].