CHARLOTTE, NC/MENTOR, OH -- Zepsa Industries, Inc., Charlotte, NC, and Merritt Woodwork, Mentor, OH, have provided the interior wood joinery for M/Y Cakewalk, a 281-foot yacht built by Derecktor Shipyards of Bridgeport, CT.

Weighing 2,950 tons, Cakewalk is reportedly the largest yacht built in the United States since the 1930s, and possibly the biggest ever built here when measured by volume, according to Derecktor Shipyards.

Designed by yacht designer, Tim Heywood, with interior designed by Elizabeth Dalton, the vessel features recessed dining salon ceilings adorned with hand-painted canvases, a majestic staircase ascending to four of its six decks, large picture windows in staterooms, and furnishings and appointments of exotic woods.

“For the first time, an American yard has shown it can equal or better the work of the best European yards,” says boat builder Paul Derecktor. Designer Tim Heywood notes, “She is superb; the workmanship is absolutely first class, as good as you will find on any yacht in the world."

Under the direction of Derecktor Shipyards, Heywood and Dalton Designs, Zepsa engineered, fabricated, finished, and installed 39 rooms of highly specified wood paneling, cabinetry, architectural mouldings, passage doors, and a multi-story grand central staircase.

"We modified the structure of our shop, adding a 60' tower to allow for the complete pre-assembly of this three story, free-standing circular staircase, replete with architectural detail, hand carvings, radius wall paneling, and ornamental iron railings," says a Zepsa spokesman. The 100-employee Zepsa Industries Incorporated boasts what it calls "the industry’s best project managers and project engineers, cabinet and furniture makers, stairbuilders, yacht joinery craftsmen and outfitters and a top notch professional support-staff to tie it all together." The family owned and operated firm, founded by president Ed Zepsa, says it has been serving a who’s who list of the country’s best architects, interior designers, general contractors and mega yacht builders since 1981.

Yacht joinery became an important part of Merritt Woodwork's growth strategy in 2003, and it has ventured into so-called "super yachts,"  working in conjunction with German millwork and joinery firm Moebelwerkstaetten Vedder.

Merritt Woodwork was launched in 1972 as a two-man operation. It now employs 100 and has evolved from handling local residential commissions to taking full responsibility for interior construction of prestigious corporate and residential building projects, working with architects and designers such as ASD, Robert A. M. Stern, Mark Ferguson, Bunny Williams, Scott Snyder, Jeffery Smith and Albert Hadley.

Merritt Woodwork's site describes its manufacturing process, which begins with schematic drawings, from which detailed AutoCAD drawings are produced, with creation of shop drawings that depict interfaces with finish materials and decorative elements from other providers – such as floor stone joints, gypsum wallboard reveals, and soffit configurations.

Zepsa pre-assembled this three story circular
staircase, replete with architectural detail, hand
carvings, radius wall paneling, and ornamental iron

 Production at Merritt Woodwork.

Merritt says its specialist craftspeople conduct all solid and panel processing, veneering, sanding, assembly and pre-finishing in a 90,000-square-foot manufacturing plant fitted with advanced woodworking equipment and CNC-controlled machines.

Merritt reports that it produces veneers and marquetry in-house, and that its press platen is one of the largest in the industry. Projects are pre-finished in isolated, climate-controlled finishing departments, using automated conveyor systems and drying ovens, eliminating contaminates. Merritt Woodwork says it also uses manual processes - some with as many as 30 steps - to produce old-world reproduction finishes from basic chemicals and natural elements that cannot be duplicated by mechanized manufacturing.

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