VANCOUVER, BC - Judson Beaumont, the iconic furniture designer and founder of Straight Line Designs, brought a dynamic energy to the start of Wood Tech Summit that carried over throughout the first day focusing on industrial wood finishing. 

Wood Finishing Focus of Wood Tech Summit Opening DayBeaumont, keynote speaker of Wood Tech Summit taking place Oct. 22 and 23 in Vancouver, entertained he audience comprised of woodworking executives and suppliers with a presentation of his creative works. As Beaumont explained he started Straight Line Designs ini Vancouver 27 years ago with the goal of making art forms that function as furniture. He said his he was especially inspired to create whimsical children's furniture after seeing the world of Toon Town in the 1988 movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Over the years, Beaumont has done work for Disney,the University of Princeton and various airports throughout North America. His work ranges from armories that explode to faux stone walls made with pine beetle ravaged wood.

Beaumont's fun presentaton set the audience in the mood for more serious and technical disucssions of wood finishing organized by the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia and Woodworking Network / Vance Communications Canada.

Among other presentation highlights:

• David Powers of The Sherwin-Williams provided na overview of coatings used by the wood products industry, including an overview of the pros and cons and where each falls in the "green" spectrum of environmental friendliness. Waterborne UV cured, he said, are the "greenest of green," emitting virtually no VOCs or formaldehyde. But they also require a very large capital investment, limiting their use to companies that can afford sophisticated flat line systems.

Wood Finishing Focus of Wood Tech Summit Opening Day• Jason Chiu, technical specialist of the Centre of Advanced Wood Processing, discussed ways to achieving consistent finish quality including troubleshooting problems and learning from mistakes. He noted, "Finishing is an art that takes a lot of practice to master. There are many variable that have to be considered and understood to achieve consistency. He recommended that the best way to inspect a finish on wood is to use side lights.

• Denis Staples, co-owner and president of Deslaurier Custom Cabinets of Renfrew, ON, shared his company's experience of rebuilding from a devastating 2009 New Year's Day fire. Not only did the fire destroy the company's 95,000-square-foot facility, collateral water damage destroyed more than 150 kitchens that were set to be shipped to customers. Because of the the fire, Deslaurier - which had grown exponentially to $24 million in sales in 2008 - suddenly had nothing.

Starting fresh from a blank sheet of paper, Staples and his partner Jim Deslaurier immediately began plotting to "seize the opportunity" created by the calamity to build a better business. The company's new plant is 50,000 square feet and uses flexible nesting cells to fabricate cabinets. The company also sought to be green and lean. It mixes its own stain, using 98% water neutral-based finishes and tints and dyes. Staples said this also gives the company more control over its color consistency but saves it money.

• Alan Henderson of Cefla North America presented an overview of flat line finishing equipment highlighted by a look at robotic spray finishing machines capable of high transfer efficiency and ability to reclaim over spray for reuse, reducing material costs. He said studies show that manual spraying typically results in 25% to 30% transfer efficiency, less than half of what an automated machine is capable of achieving. 

Henderson also provided a brief case study of a 12-man cabinet shop in Montana that at one time required four employees and supervision by the owner to stain, seal and topcoat parts needed to assemble about 65 cabinets. Using a feed-through denibbing machine and a flat line spray machine, the same amount of work was done in about four hours.

• Woodworking Network's resident finishing expert Bernie Bottens delved into the importance of implementing water-based technologies. He suggested doing so would not only help companies be greener and be able to meet requirements of LEED and other environmental programs but to stay ahead of the curve of potential new government regulations.

• Phil Evans BC leadership chair in Advance Wood Products Manufacturing, presented new research on grain raising. Evans noted that his research team amazingly found only three documented studies on grain raising, two of them done by the U.S. Forest Service in 1932 and 1943 respectively and the third in Japan in 1961. He added that none of these are available on the Internet.

Using 21st century lab equipment, Evans and his team found that denser woods like maple or lignum vitae, the densest wood know to man, were less likely to experience raised grain after being finished than less dense woods like balsa or red cedar. His team also determined that grain raising occurs when wood fibers created in the sanding process do not fully detach.

Wood Tech Summit continues Tuesday with sessions on Plant Productivity and Business Competitiveness. The program is supported by several key industry suppliers, including In-House Solutions, Masse Machinery & Tooling Sales, Planit Canada, Richelieu Wood Finishes Sherwin-Williams and the Wood Manufacturing Council. View Wood Tech Summit Exhibitor list.

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