Today I am in Dongguan China; a city about 2 hours north of Hong Kong. I am visiting a woodworking manufacturer called Decca who has a partnership with Imperial Woodworking based out of Chicago, IL. I am here to inspect work being produced for a project that I am working on. The day was full of walking – literally a couple miles back and forth across their shop…
…seeing their facility and all their capabilities while I inspected the craftsmanship and quality of their work on our project. This included:
- Making the sure the stain color of the wood is matching our control sample
- Looking at the quality of the veneer matching on the millwork pieces and that the hard wood color and veneer colors are matching
- Inspecting the joints of the pieces to see if the seams are staying together and that there aren’t seams where we don’t want them to be
- Making sure the designs – concept and measurements match the approved shop drawings
- Inspecting the painted finishes to make sure it is smooth and without blemish or yellowing
Just for fun, here is some of the wood manufacturing process before it lands on your project:
These are the Kilns that stabilize the wood to get it to the moisture content it needs to be. Wood is put into them and then both heat and steam applied to wood to kill bugs and get it to the right moisture level. It is important to add both, so it you don’t have problems with the wood over time. All different woods come in at different moisture contents, but each moisture content has to meet a certain level to be stable in its end location. For instance, Mahogany wood comes cut at about a 40-45 moisture level, but in Utah, we need it to be at an 8.
This stock of wood used to represent the largest supply of North American woods in the world.
Work is tagged and put into bundles ready to be run through the planer to get them to the shape and dimensions they need. The second picture shows wood on the top of the bundle with a white outline signifiying the end shape that is needed from this wood piece.
Here is the edge banding machine. A lot of wood panels aren’t solid wood…they just look that way, but putting thin wood veneers on the back and front and then veneer leafs of wood are applied to the sides with glue, heat and pressure.
Speaking of Veneers, here are a plethora of their containers. And here is a Crotch Mahogany Veneer – Beautiful!
Veneer leafs can be taken and put into different configurations and then glued up to a backer board. Here are some of the those that were currently being laid up:
For intricate veneers, an automated laser cuter cuts the pieces out and an individual puts them together like a puzzle. This one would have taken many, many, many hours.
We also discussed hot and cold press methods. These are the methods used to lay up the veneers on backer panels and how they help in getting intricate shapes etc. See my sketches:
Lastly, the stain and finish. There are a lot of different ways and tricks to do this here is just one:
I am fascinated most by the wood carvings. These are cut on a C&C machine (automated cutting machine) and then perfected and finished by hand:
Lastly, Decca also specializes in furniture making. I was shocked to find out that they make one of my favorite furniture lines that I often specify. I know them as Bolier, but Decca are the actual builders. Here is some of their show room.
Decca and Imperial are among the best out there in this market…they would say they are the best! I can’t speak for that, but I can say that their quality is impeccable and I didn’t find one concern with the product being produced for us. It was a great day!