Cutting through the saw safety controversy

Bosch continues to defend its flesh-sensing technology against patent-infringement charges levied by SawStop, as the German-based company works to sell its Reaxx jobsite table saw in the U.S. The Bosch Reaxx saw uses flesh-sensing technology to drop the blade below the table saw tabletop when contact with flesh is detected. SawStop’s saws both drop the blade and stop the blade when flesh contact is detected.

The debate heated up in July 2015, when SawStop filed a complaint with the ITC. In March 2016, the manufacturer won a procedural ruling from an administrative law judge ( Defending itself against the patent infringement charges, Bosch has moved forward with the Reaxx launch ( SawStop continued its efforts and in September an administrative law judge issued an initial ruling that Bosch’s new Reaxx safety saw does infringe on SawStop patents (

In related news, SawStop maker SD3 also won U.S. Supreme Court support in its antitrust lawsuit against Black & Decker, Robert Bosch, Makita and other toolmakers, of conspiring to boycott its table saw safety technology (

Top 10 cabinetry & design trends

The nation’s top kitchen and bath designers shared their insight on the latest color and style trends in the NKBA’s 2016 Design Trends Survey. They are: transitional style still tops, with contemporary growing; gray/white/off-white cabinets still reign; pullouts, tilt-outs and tilt-ins hot in cabinet storage; wood flooring popular for kitchens; quartz and granite counters tops, but laminate growing; outdoor kitchens still trending; convenience of built-in coffee stations and wet bars; pocket doors popular;  pet spaces in the kitchen; and docking and charging stations gained power.

Engineered tropical hardwood reduces logging

An Australian firm has developed an engineered tropical hardwood, said to have the same strength as a 100-year-old tree. The firm says the technology could reduce the pressure to log native forests, according to its developers.

Is cherry poised for a comeback?

Years ago, walnut was king then cherry became the most sought after species. Meanwhile, curly or tiger maple became very hot, good mahogany was available, and quarter sawn white oak ascended. The curly maple and cherry markets crashed in the recession. Walnut has returned. Is cherry next?

Radioactive lumber in supply chain

Pine tree logs from areas surrounding the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster are entering the lumber supply chain in Europe, say local watchdog organizations, who claim government agencies managing the 18-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone around the reactor disregard evidence of clear cutting contaminated pine woods.

Where’s the wood work? Top 10 states

CNBC tallied the scores for the overall top states for doing business. But according to the BLS, that’s not where you’ll find the majority of woodworkers, nor the best paying jobs in the field. Out of 12,981 household furniture and cabinetry manufacturers in 2015, the top paying state was Massachusetts, followed by Michigan, Alaska, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, New York and Hawaii.

Frameless trend on the rise

The biggest surprise of the FDMC annual kitchen cabinet trend survey wasn’t the big increase in the number of companies displaying cabinets, although that was significant. Instead, it was the dramatic rise in the number of cabinet manufacturers promoting frameless cabinets. At this year’s KBIS, cabinets using frameless construction went from less than a quarter of displays last year to more than a third of displays. Meanwhile, face-frame dropped about 5% from last year.

Salvaging sycamore log for natural-edge tabletops

Scott Wunder detailed how he salvaged a huge sycamore log and his plans to cut into natural-edge slab tabletops. In this video he shows how he got the log from a warehouse construction site.

Challengers Award winners named

Winners of the 2016 Challengers’ Distinguished Achievement Award were announced IWF. The seven winners include two hardware items, one cutting tool, and four machine technologies: Bacci America, CNC Shaping & Sanding machine; Biesse America, Viet robotic sander; Fastenlink, Fastenlink patent-pending fastening system; Giben, Giben by Anderson nested CNC router; Holz-Her, Ltronic edgebanding technology; LMT Onsrud LP, Polaris Compression cutting tool; and Salice America won for the Salice Air hinge.

Ashley lays off 840 in California

Ashley Furniture closed its manufacturing plants in Colton, Calif., and shifted production of the upholstered furniture and bedding to its other U.S. plants. The company notified the 840 employees that the plants would close Oct. 25.  In related news, laid-off Ashley Furniture employees received federal help as congressional representatives believed a significant portion of production at Colton facility is instead being outsourced to Vietnam.

Hand-held CNC nears market

Pre-orders are in for the Shaper Origin, a hand-held router steered by a smart-phone sized guidance system. An MIT student developed it when he had trouble building picture frames with an ordinary router.

Quieter blade technology

An increasingly important tooling trend is the rise of new designs to cut noise levels from machines inside busy shops. High-noise emissions from circular saws are one area of concern, as is noise levels from planers.

Laminate flooring maker expands

Kronospan, a manufacturer of laminate panel products, announced in June it will invest $362 million to expand its operations in Calhoun County, Alabama, adding 160 jobs to its workforce. The expansion includes two laminate flooring lines, two decorative paper impregnation lines, a TFL line, and development of a furniture cluster.

Peel and stick panels a hit

Stikwood says it gained a lot of attention at KBIS for its self-stick reclaimed wood paneling. The Sacramento, California firm has built a thriving business producing and shipping its panels in various species and finishes.

Chinese plywood antidumping petition filed

The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood has formally filed a petition with the U.S. DOC and the U.S. ITC asserting that imports of hardwood plywood products from China are being sold into the United States at “dumped prices” below cost to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Chinese hardwood plywood imports have increased significantly from 2013 to 2015.

Inception-inspired table defies gravity

The Wave City coffee table, inspired by the film Inception, bends a cityscape, with the overlapping surface forming a tabletop. It was built using 3D printing, plywood, solid wood and steel by Mousarris, a design firm that produces high-quality custom furniture.

Lumber Liquidators cuts formaldehyde deal

Lumber Liquidators said in an SEC filing that it reached an agreement with CPSC as settlement on issues with the formaldehyde emission exposure from its Chinese-made laminate flooring. The company agreed to sequester the flooring inventory; proactively monitor formaldehyde gas exposure at thousands of consumers’ homes; and implement CARB compliance rules nationwide.

‘Space Up’ bed offer spacious storage

A furniture designer has developed a flip-up storage bed. Available in natural acacia or white painted finish, its uses a hydraulic lift mechanism to access the storage area under the mattress.

Universal Forest acquires idX

Universal Forest Products signed a definitive agreement to purchase idX Corp., an international provider of store fixtures, retail displays and customized merchandising products in a deal worth $68 million. idX is a market leader in the $6 billion merchandising solutions industry.

IKEA recalls 29M dressers after third fatality

IKEA recalled 29 million Malm and other dressers and chests after a third tip-over incident. In February 2016, a 22-month-old child was entrapped and died. IKEA is moving beyond a repair kit remediation program launched in 2015. The program covers furniture made between January 2002 and June 2016.

100 money-making strategies

Now in its 27th year, the WOOD 100 Strategies for Success details a variety of innovative as well as tried-and-true initiatives put in place by North American wood products manufacturers to grow their businesses. Included are strategies from those in the furniture, cabinetry, architectural woodwork, store fixture, components and other industry markets.

Textured laminate panels on the rise

Textured laminate panels featuring embossed in register designs are storming the marketplace, offering the look and feel of real wood at a fraction of the cost.

Robots and veneer expertise highlight capabilities

Navy Island has nine Fanuc robots that do much of the material processing, from loading and unloading machines, to building the current product lineup of doors and acoustic panels. The custom furniture and components manufacturer has been using robots in the shop since 2006.

FDMC 300 top firms record strong year

There were fewer major changes in the FDMC 300 group of companies during 2015. Only five companies have been identified as closed or likely out of business from this group of leading manufacturers of cabinets, furniture, millwork and store fixtures. The FDMC 300 (is an annual report that ranks the top woodworking producers in North America.

Wood Industry 40 Under 40’s dynamic leaders

Making its debut in 2016, the Wood 40 Under 40 celebrated the achievements of woodworking’s next generation, who are already making a difference in the industry. Winners were selected from a field of more than 135 nominations.

Creating Shou Pine-y Ban woodwork

Michael Moran and his partner Celia Gibson build each object one piece at a time, watching wood become a functional work of art.  They char the pine for a unique look. “We make sure to not refer to it as Shou Sugi Ban (the name inherently implies the use of the Sugi tree, a Japanese Cedar tree) and instead refer to it — with a laugh — as Shou ‘Piney’ Ban,” says Moran.

World’s largest timber ark opens for business

A 510-foot-long, $100 million pine-clad Noah’s Ark replica opened in Kentucky.  And Colorado Timberframe was chosen to mill the logs, it was among the few that can handle 50 footers, 3 feet in diameter. The $91 million Ark Encounter theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky, opened July 7, 2016.

Sherwin-Williams buys Valspar, $11.3B deal

In March The Sherwin-Williams Co. announced it would purchase paint and coatings rival The Valspar Corp. in a deal worth approximately $11.3 billion. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter in 2017.

Connecting in new way

Tightening joints with  new types of fasteners was a big trend in evidence at IWF. Applications range from windows and doors to RTA furniture; or for on-site construction of prefabricated cabinets. Lockdowel is one of the leaders in this field. Also making a name are OVVO, FastenLink, Joinlox, Samet, Titus and Invis.

Fixer Upper stars launch furniture line

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” launched a new line of furniture manufactured by Standard Furniture Corp. The furniture will be in style genres of Primitive, Industrial, Boho, French Inspired, Farm and Traditional.

CABTEQ’s $3M in medical cabinetry operation

Commercial cabinetmaker CABTEQ Solutions announced in April plans to invest $3 million in a new 80,000-square-foot facility in York County, South Carolina. The expansion is expected to create 125 new jobs.

Wood Industry Market Leaders revealed

This year’s elite group of eight woodworking professionals have not only led their companies to success, but are distinguished by their service to the industry and community. Profiles reveal their strategies, insights and influences.

Custom CNCs on the rise

Customized and single-purpose CNC machines gained notice at IWF, highlighted by the number of offerings by major machinery manufacturers. Single-function machines include those dedicated for cabinet making, acoustic panel processing and sanding. Also trending are customized CNC routers.

Wooden Globe winners announced

Winners of the WMIA 2016 Wooden Globe awards were announced at the Wood Industry Conference. Millwork manufacturer Koetter Woodworking won for its Commitment to Excellence; wood component manufacturer Decore-ative Specialties won for Innovation; and the Woodwork Career Alliance received the award for Educator of the Year.

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