It took some heavy lifting by Specialty Wood Mfg. to put these custom restaurant divider walls in place.

Photo by John Valls

Specialty Wood Mfg.

Tacoma, WA

Project: Divider wall for restaurant

Year Established: 1975

# of Employees: 60

Shop Size: 53,000 square feet

Specialty: Fabrication of custom, hand-crafted cabinetry and millwork, utilizing a variety of materials, including: woods, metals, glass, solid surfaces, marble, fabric or a combination.

Restaurants and bars often are looking for something to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Sometimes an unusual interior design is chosen to help create the ambiance that may attract the clientele they are seeking. Lucier restaurant in Portland, OR, hired New York City-based designers Alvarez-Brock Design LLC for just such a task. The firm came up with the idea of building large, white Corian divider walls, and Tacoma, WA-based Specialty Wood Mfg. was enlisted to create them.

Specialty Wood General Manager Tom Hobson says that the process was as follows: The company created 3-D modeling based on the original design. That modeling was downloaded to Specialty’s Komo CNC router for machining. The core was 1/2-inch Apple Ply plywood under the Corian, which was built up one layer at a time. Using 85 sheets of Glacier White Corian, the company slowly built the walls up to 10-inches thick and nearly 9-feet tall, with open areas and different thicknesses. The two walls were of varying lengths, with the longest being 17 feet long with a 6-foot return and the smaller one nearly 11 feet long.

Hobson says cutting all of the parts on CNC equipment gave the company good tolerances, but many hours of sanding were still involved.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, was how to build the walls in the Tacoma shop and then transport them 150 miles and install them in the Portland restaurant.

Photo by John Valls

Specialty Wood built the largest wall in two pieces and contracted a professional moving company that specializes in transporting heavy equipment to get the walls to the job site and into the building. Since the walls weighed between 2,500 pounds and 3,700 pounds, forklifts were used in the actual moving of the sections. Care had to be exercised not to exceed weights limits of the building. Lifting hooks were attached into the 2-foot-by-2-foot steel tube framing the company built into the structure of the wall. Each piece was lifted and set down over vertical steel supports embedded in the concrete floor. The final fitting of the Corian was done on site.

Hobson believes that the most unusual aspect of this project was how the company was able to utilize all of the different talents in its shop to solve the problems of building a project of this size and design scope.

“We’ve had a history of taking on difficult projects like this,” he says. “That is what makes us different from other companies.”

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