Six Mistakes that Wood Joinery Factories Should Avoid

Six Mistakes that Wood Joinery factories should avoid

The Economic slowdown has compelled woodworking industry to transformation of strategy in order to improve the working and profitability. The best way to do this is to think in a different way and find new methods of working. Neglecting or ignoring the crisis , just like the Ostrich buries its head  in sand when storm comes in , will make the situation from bad to worst.  The need of the hour  is to examine  the situation with a different perspective.

I have  observed that in the woodworking industry, some of the typical operations that are a part of the routine work of furniture manufacturing in most factories are cutting, edge banding, drilling, routing, gluing, Joinery, nailing, gap filling, and sanding and painting etc.

During my visits to various woodworking factories across south east Asia and China, I found that there are some mistakes which are common mistakes taking place on shop floors in almost all  woodworking factories. I have  listed the seven mistakes that should be avoided in order to improve the working and in order to assure a trouble free and tension free production which is the first and foremost requirement of  the production staff and the management.

  1. Risky operations on machine
Photo 2 : pressure fins / springs : Photo courtesy (MagSwitch)
Risky operations on machine [Photo 1]

It is generally observed that working on spindle molder is treated as a very difficult work and only very experienced operators can work on it. This is due to the risky operations they have to perform while working on this machine.  One can imagine the risk that the operator is taking while pushing the timber against a high-speed cutter block just with the strength in his hand [Please note Photo 1] .  Under the condition of kickback the accident may happen causing injury to the operator. Hence workers are scared to work on this machine. The whole risk can be eliminated by use of the pressure fins / springs and any one can work on the machine without any risk.  Photo 2

Many companies have developed magnetic and sliding type fixtures for this purpose. The simple principal of safe working on wood working machine is to clamp the work piece firmly so that it does not vibrate while processing.

  1. Defective process
Sharp tools and proper holding
[Photo 3]

It is observed that when it comes to completing an operation like sawing, shaping, molding, routing each of the machine operator is concerned in completing the work as quickly as possible. While doing this he forgets that the quality and finish of the process is also very important, otherwise the rectification has to be done at the last stage. Hence it is observed that there is always overload on the painting department. BECAUSE They have to undertake the rectification of the mistakes of all the operations done in earlier stages.

If care is taken to see that each of the previous operations are done with utmost care and a defect free part is delivered for the next operation, then we can see a big boost in production quantity and quality. Sharp tools and proper holding of the work piece will assure a good finish [Photo 3].

  1. Bleeding of Glue
clamping the parts-the components
[Photo 4]

In many factories I have seen that whenever a  joinery is done too much of glue is applied with an intension that no area should be left without glue. This ultimately causes application of excessive glue that is pushed out of the joinery while clamping the parts / the components. [Photo 4]

The excess glue is cleaned but small traces of the glue are left on wood causing a patchy effect at the joints. By doing this we are wasting about 30% to 40% of the glue and thereby adding an unwanted process of cleaning and also as a result  leaving dirty glue marks on the high quality furniture. These marks can be seen after final polishing also. I remember one solid wood chair factory was employing 6 people to clean the excess glue. It should be noted that “Thinner the glue line stronger is the joint” and thicker the glue line weaker is the joint”.

  1. Use of Nails
ambient temperature
[Photo 5]

It has been a practice in the past to use metal nails while joining wooden parts and in assembly also. But in the modern time nails are avoided on the surfaces due to the patchy effect it gives after some time. This is due to the expansion of the metal due to the variation in the ambient temperature. [Photo 5]

By avoiding the nails one can save many unwanted operations that cost time and money. I recollect having visited in Vietnam a solid wood panel door manufacturing plant-producing doors without any nails and it was their USP. They were using little more time on one process and saving other five processes. I also remember that while inspecting a dinning set consisting of solid wood chairs and table factory, we hired an expert to produce the products without nails. The quality came out to be very superior.

  1. Poor Joinery with gaps
Joinery with gaps
[Photo 7]
[Photo 6]

The main difference between a good quality and bad quality furniture is the quality of joints and joinery. If the joints are without gaps the furniture looks beautiful ( of course the finishing should be good) ie. a thin glue line makes the furniture rich and a thick glue line makes the furniture poor in finish. This directly affects the price and the profits. [Photo 6 &  7]

With little additional efforts one can avoid the gaps in joints and save lot of work and in addition can produce a high value quality product that gives pride and high profits.

For this reason one should study each process minutely and try to make it perfect and efficient.

  1. Dusty condition in painting room
[Photo 8]

I remember visiting a Solid wood processing factory with huge setup and the owner showed me with a great pride that they have a painting room with a 75 HP blower. It was quite difficult to open the door of the painting room due to very high negative pressure in the room. The paining room was full of dust. The owner asked me that in spite of such high pressure blower there is too much of dust in the room.  What was the reason? The reason was that due to negative pressure the dust was sucked in the room for every corner]. The room should have a positive pressure in the room allowing keeping the doors open and the dust will never enter the painting room.

It should be noted that the painting room should have more air pumped in than the quantity that is blown out by the spray boot / blower.   A positive pressure in the room will keep it clean but also give enough fresh air to the painter for breathing.

  1. Over Spray that wastes about 55% of paint
wastage of paints
[Photo 9]

Normally Painting is done with spray guns with high-pressure air to do the painting at faster speed.  It is observed that the HVLP guns are also used with a very high-pressure air.  This causes a lot of overspray.  It is observed that almost 55% of the paint is lost in overspray.  Paint material being very expensive it is a very high wastage causing higher manufacturing costs. This also causes less deposition of the finishing material on the furniture causing poor finish.

This can be avoided by use of proper HVLP/LVLP spray systems with appropriate pressure.  There are systems, which assure 95% material transfer.  This saves lot of money, time and material.

These are some of the typical faulty practices that creates requirements of more rectification work, additional efforts  and expenses and great wastage of material.  Many more faulty practices can be found out and corrected to make the production process more economical in terms of effort and money and with more precision and a better finish.

Please consider, in difficult  times like this current bad market situation, one cannot afford to spend much energy on unwanted efforts  or uncalled expenses. The customer would reject the work outright which displays shoddy workmanship, and if a competitor will be  pitching ,  they’re readily waiting to grab the opportunity which offers them a better product and excellent service.  It’s high time for the Furniture factories/ Joinery units to work meticulously on the improvements on shop floor.

Think differently, act quickly and turn the Crisis Into An Opportunity. 

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