Communication the Center of Winning Laminate Project

E.P.W. Fine Woodworking in Loomis, CA, earned the Design Portfolio award for laminate casework. The winning project is the worldwide tele-communications room for the Sacramento Medical Foundation.

By Beverly Dunne

Two interesting parts of E.P.W.’s work for the telecommunications room of the Sacramento Medical Foundation were the soffit and the circular table. The soffit features a scissor lift that descends when a projector is needed; the table has a lift which pops up to reveal telephone and electrical outlets. Photography by Keith Cronin

Communication is the lifeblood of any successful venture, especially for the winner in the laminate category of this year’s Design Portfolio awards. The winning project is the worldwide telecommunications room for the Sacramento Medical Foundation, one of the nation’s leading blood centers. It was fabricated and installed by E.P.W. Fine Woodworking of Loomis, CA. (Hoshida and Reyes of Sacramento was the architect. Sunweri Associates Inc. in Sacramento was the general contractor and Lori Harris of El Dorado Hills, CA, was the interior designer.)

The most impressive feature of the room is the immense soffit, says Edward P. Wais, owner. Covered with a pure metal laminate, the dome is 18 feet wide, with each section measuring 24 inches wide at the bottom, 18 inches tall on the outside and 6 inches tall on the inside. The soffit is 10 feet off the ground with the center rising to a total of 14 feet.

The circular soffit was built in 12 separate pieces using 3/4-inch maple ply from Aura Hardwoods Inc. in Rancho Cordova, CA. Wais worked closely with the dry wall contractors, T.A. Smith Interiors, during the framing and drywalling to create the framework for the soffit. E.P.W. produced the top and bottom for the soffit out of 3/4-inch exterior-grade ply to ensure that it would be round, Wais adds.

Fabricating the circular soffit took 12 days for shop foreman Patrick D’Elia. The piece is 18 feet wide and was built in 12 separate pieces.

The 12 individual soffit pieces were cut on a Holz-Her 1205 panel saw and were edgebanded on an SCMI Basic 1. Kerfed plywood was used on all curved pieces. The entire soffit was covered with Nevamar PM-6-2, a polished smoke chrome laminate.


Name: E.P.W. Fine Woodworking, Loomis, CA
Year established: 1992 part-time, full time in 1995
Annual sales 1999: $300,000
No. of Employees: 3
Shop size: 1,800 square feet
Specialty: Custom shop producing frameless cabinets. Tenant improvement projects account for 90 percent of its work, 10 percent is high-end residential jobs.

The use of this material did not allow for any voids or deformities in the substrates, since it is a mirrored surface, Wais says. “One of the biggest challenges was to install the soffit pieces and maintain a 1-inch consistent reveal between each piece,� he adds.

Built as part of a $75,000 phase in the foundation’s remodel, the project includes a circular table that houses the brains for the whole room, which also was fabricated by E.P.W. Designed for presentations and teleconferences, it features an INCA lift which pops up, revealing telephone and electrical outlets. If a projector is needed, it descends from the soffit on a scissors lift.

The shop also fabricated the frameless base cabinets for the project. E.P.W.’s 32mm system equipment includes a Marcon line boring machine and Blum hinge inserting machine. The shop uses the Blum Pearls System.

Laminate was laid up by hand. Overlays included Wilsonart D315 Platinum for the cabinets and Pionite Opal Impression AB121-S for the countertops.

“This is certainly one of the most complex projects we have ever done,� Wais says. “It took shop foreman Patrick D’Elia 12 days to fabricate the soffit alone. He put his heart and soul into the job.�

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