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Furniture makers' do's and don'ts.

Our readers, who are well aware of the "Metz Rules" of dealing with production and seeking ways to better their sales, have requested a set of "rules" that we feel are important in increasing dealer and consumer interest and giving the manufacturer the sales edge,

How do you score the following points? Are they even a part of your program? If not, why not? Obviously these are rules for furniture and cabinet folks, but some of them may pertain to other readers as well.

Rule No. One: Assuming your goal over the past year or two was to build a quality reputation, it must be a foregone conclusion that both your sales and customer personnel are informed in detail of all features of construction and finish and of any extra special things that help sales. Customer sales people should be given a thorough demonstration or talk to, by a well-informed sales manager.

Rule No. Two: All shipments must include warranty and questionnaire material for each sale. The warranty should be as liberal as possible, but must be protective against consumer damage. The questionnaire is important, as well. It should not only ask, "How do you like it?", but "Was it delivered properly?", "Was it set up to your satisfaction?", "Do you anticipate adding to the group?," etc.

Rule No. Three: New designs should be approved by a group of dealers who you feel are close and important. They should be brought in to see a mock-up or sample for discussion. This makes them a part of the design. A new or advanced design should also be approved by a select consumer group. Ladies' clubs are great for this.

Rule No. Four: Number three will help you design lasting groups -- groups that will remain active for at least three years and give consumers the opportunity to add and to convince them that they bought something substantial. Dealers would rather show good, solid selling groups than trendy ones.

Rule No. Five: Every sale, one piece or a grouping, must carry a well organized leaflet on care. Today, people want to know what the topcoat is and exactly how to maintain it. A bit of technical information is good and a small sample of the suggested cleanser or wax would be of great help to customers.

Rule No. Six: The same leaflet could include useful information in case of a household accident -- what to do and what not to do. Let's say a child runs into the side of a buffet with a bicycle. This sort of cut or scratch is common and most people would not know what to do, or more important, what not to do.

Rule No. Seven: Many mistakes are made in handling furniture and cabinets when moving. I suggest a small envelope "When and if you move" with some helpful instructions -- an envelope they can put away with the bill that shows the consumer that the maker cares.

Now for a few Don'ts:

(1) When instructing retail sales people, be sure they are not "overselling". Too many ads today claim "the finest", when in reality, the goods are medium to lower class. Go for the most quality for the money.

(2) Give accurate delivery dates. Should something happen to prevent this, inform the dealer immediately. Don't miss on this.

(3) Don't drop ship. Receiving part of an order is annoying.

(4) Never substitute a fabric. It is a good idea to clip a little note regarding care of the fabric; dining chairs particularly. If a fabric is out of stock or has been troublesome, advise the dealer.

(5) Once a finish is set and the proper control units are made by the finish technician, (usually from your major source of finishing materials, setting the procedure etc.), don't make changes, minor or otherwise. Be sure the control is perfect from cutting to cutting.

There are individual do's and don'ts that make or break the customer relations and no matter how good your product is, if anything becomes aggravating or any unhappiness results, the dissatisfaction travels from dealer to dealer. I get reports of some top name lines that can be pretty cocky and that should be the last thing a thinking company should allow.

We are not in the best of times. Every move we make should be toward a better product, better service and putting a smile on the faces of the dealer and the consumer. If you have any special smile getters, let us know and we will add them to the "rules."

Q Following up my phone call, I have one more question on finish. We are getting a cloudy look on some of our flat panels and I think you can tell by the photo what this looks like. Also, I agree with you that we should use one material source and get the advantage of their technician, but you know what its like in a giant outfit. The bosses want every cent saved, even though I have explained your opinion about the advantages to them. Thanks for the great help. Mr. T.

A Better get a good look at the heating in your sealer setup. I have a suspicion that you are coating lacquer over a damp surface. That blooming is a telltale sign of dampness. I'm sorry about the refusal to go to a single source. Sure, there are some very special people in top coating and other specialists that are important. But for most of us, the major source pays off.

Q In running RF joints in a continuous type conveyed jointer, can we plane directly out of the jointer? Is PV glue OK? Mr. E.

A I would certainly test with mallet and drop test and be very sure. If you decide against it, don't let the glue harden that is in excess over the joint. Do consult the source of your PV glue and the one I recommended as a check.

Q What in the world is "Cuangare?" Ever heard of it? Mr. B.

A It is Virola, coming from the Pacific forests of Columbia and Ecuador. This is a good, soft pine-like wood. It machines and finishes nicely, but is too soft for much of anything but cores. It is not used a great deal since MDF and particleboard are so popular. Mouldings or small units are OK for very soft stock.

Q The Metropolitan Museum and many others have beautiful antiques and they do not show any defects. I take it they have been doctored, but the attendant claims not. Was the manufacture by hand in those days so great? Many thanks. Mr. L.

A Over the years, most of the old pieces have been repaired and I would guess that display pieces have also been refinished. I have seen any number of authentic antiques that have severe cracks and have virtually no finish. I have a few of these and they show their age, even though they are beautiful. I listen to people at the museums -- I was at the Metropolitan last week -- yes, they remark about the great condition.

Q I hate to bother you with this one, but we have a large order for Armoires going overseas and the top has a heavy 3 1/2-inch mitred moulding. A former order for the same unit was made by someone else and they had problems with the mitres. I guess the dampness and constant use of air conditioning had something to do with it How Is this mitre to be made to hold up to your specs? Thanks. Mr. E.

A Be sure the maple is 6 to 7 percent moisture content and check it constantly during manufacture. Use 2-inch spiral dowels and be sure there is room at the bottom of the boring for a slight glue seat. Don't be afraid to use a thin glue application on the mitres and clean the squeezeout before it hardens. On the flat backs of the mitres use two corrugated clamp nails, but only after mitres are dry and you are sure they are perfect. To protect the area until you finish, I would suggest you gluesize the face and back of the mitred section for at least 3 inches. This will aid in sanding as well as protection. You may wish to gluesize the full arched pediment.

Q We are a small outfit, but very much into finishing. What can we do to comply with this OSHA -- VOC deal and do it Inexpensively? Mr. G.

A I would dip your small product, hand wipe or brush and since you wax as well as lacquer, maybe until things settle down and changes are made, I would do a good wax job. Questions?

Q In searching around for something different for outdoor walls, as well as inside, and even the possibility of doing some outdoor furniture in the same wood, we came upon Pecky Cypress. It is an Interesting wood and I think we will go ahead with the idea for a condo group If you OK the outside use. Any Instructions ? Mr. B.

A It is fine for all the purposes mentioned. Outside use requires good finish and seasonal checking of the same.

Q Can gluesize be used under paint? What do we do to take care of pitch bleed? Thanks for a# your help. Mr. K.

A Gluesize may be used under paint. Apply as directed with a sponge. Bleed is best handled with a stain-toner. If you have the services of a material source technician, he is the one to do the instructing. It takes a little doing to handle it skillfully, but it is a super product.

Q We have a huge job of frames that are 4'x6' and 2 1/2" x 1" thick. To keep these babies straight is going to be a real deal. What wood (hardwood required) would you use and how treated to prevent trouble? The column is super and we learn a lot from It. Mr. K.

A Great care must be taken in wood selection. I think ash might be best, but more than that, the drying must be perfect. Every piece must be checked for that 6 12 to 7 percent; not only at the saw, but constantly during manufacture. Don't allow any exceptions and watch the operation yourself as much as possible. Let the people know you are really "on" this project. Be careful in assembly. Weigh the units and get them in an area of correct temperature and humidity for as short a time as possible and seal with great care. Shipping must be checked for care in wrapping against any possible moisture entry. Warn the recipient about proper conditions and include that in your invoice and guarantee, if any.

Q I am connected with one of the largest furniture combines. We are about to launch a new concept, under a new name. I am opposed to the new identity. I feel that we have major companies with huge reputations and that the deal should be under one of them. Why spend a fortune on identity when we have it? Do you agree? Thank you for all your help. Mr. X.

A I know what you are dealing with and I do agree with you.

Q We are furnishing a large complex. The builder asked me to ask you about the railings around the ten acres. If he uses redwood, how often must it be stained, considering the very hot summers, and is there an alternate wood that could be used? I thank you. Mr. H.

A If the redwood is readily available (one of my many pet peeves) and it is priced reasonably, I see nothing wrong with it. The staining must be real quality and most likely will go two to three years before needing a good going over. Treated pine will do likewise and cost less. It is surely something to consider.

Q I appreciate your looking into the plans that our consultant made of the plant we contemplate. We are most concerned about the machine room layout. As you know, it is step for step based on the specific design we feel will take us through several years and we are not sure about several machine locations that appear cramped The idea is to convey or almost attach these machines. Thanks for all your help. We appreciate and a wait your comment. Mr. W.

A First, you can not be sure of the several years run. Too many things can happen to slow down or kill the design. I am still for a conservative, more standardized flow. This would handle the line nicely and eliminate that cramping that could bottleneck in case of any change or breakdown. Setting up is very costly, the blowpipe alone runs up sky high. I hate to disagree, but better safe than sorry!

Q We have the information from our kiln source, but there have been some problems and we need a guide book of authority; something you would approve of. Thanks for all the help. Mr. E.

A The Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wis. has a great new guide -- Quality Drying of Hardwood Lumber -- the address is 1 Gifford Pinchot Dr. Madison, WI 53705-2398. If you have particular questions, contact Jeanne Danielson at (608) 231-9200.

Q Do you really think our Industry has come to the quality stage that is needed? Judging from autos, let's say, should we now be able to tell the competition a thing or two? I would appreciate your opinion. Thank you. Mr. X.

A We have come a long way. I grant you, it should never have been that way. If our products and cars, as well, would have been what our people expect, we would never have gotten into this mess. Again, it is still a matter of specialization. If you like, let me know and I will go into detail in both industries.

Q We are in eastern Ohio and we would like to know about the woods that can be obtained that are not too far from us. Price is a factor and we need the full information, Thank you. Mr. M.

A The Frank Paxton Lumber Co. has a great booklet on woods and they are close enough to you. I think it is one of the outstanding books in the industry. It is called "Beautiful Woods" and they can be reached at 0220 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Mo. 64114.

Q Attached are afl the specs on the door panels, mostly 1/4 inch that are cracking. These follow your requirements, but we do not know exactly what our plant temperature is seven days per week. It seems very even and pleasant to us. What are we doing wrong? Thanks for the help to this frustrating problem. Mr. J.

A Bonding of any kind must be done with constant temperature and humidity 65 to 75F and between 35 and 40 percent relative humidity. Straight panels are not one bit different. You would be surprised at the number of people that tell me their conditions are perfect and yet, they have no idea what goes on over the weekend. Also, doors and windows open at times effecting panels. This is a flagrant error. I find too many bosses really don't know what transpires at times. I am not pointing my finger at you, but I am amazed at what some don't know.

Q We are having some trouble with discoloration in our maple faces and we need to protect the paint finishes from any change. We have tried shellac with no problem so far. Is this OK? Thanks, Mr. S.

A My check says OK.

Q Cedar Is the problem here, and it Is too cockeyed expensive. What would you use that Is available in the area? Thanks. Mr. M.

A I would experiment with cherry and ash for the product and be sure and do sufficient testing -- both hot and cold.

Q We manufacture plywood reels. The waste is a matter of real concern and we would like suggestions as to possible disposal We use various sized squares. Any ideas? Could a CNC router make the cuts and bore the holes? Would there be a definite savings? Thanks for the information and the great column! Ms. G.

A The waste would best be used, to my thinking, by a toy maker. I would go to the best toy store in the area such as Toys-R-Us, and see what you can see! The makers names are available as well as the advice of the manager. This is a good field. On the router, I would definitely go to the next show and look at the smaller CNC routers. take along a sample and also take a little time in deciding. I think a CNC will lead you to another item. Could be that the waste corners may no longer be waste!

Q We have been making the same PL-Lam door for our frameless cabinets for years. Now, we are getting frequent warping. Could it be contact adhesive? You have samples and specs of our operation. The warp on the samples sent was 3/16 inch over 31 inches. Please contact me if you have any questions. Mr. C.

A First, I don't like the 2-inch bored holes opening into the core. However, that is not the main problem. Stress indicates lack of moisture after a period of ample or extra moisture content. The manufacture is reasonably good. Be sure to use a humidistat and check all this out.

Q In making cabinets with MDF cores, we have been using a substrate under our edgebands. We have been asked to make a series of very inexpensive units and have been told we may be able to eliminate the substrate If we gluesize the endwood. Is this practical? Do you recommend it? Thanks for the help. Mr. E.

A Though I am not certain that you will get a good result, I think gluesize would be a great help. The test is just that -- test. Make a dozen panels and give them the hot and cold test.

Q We have had the pleasure of your instructive column for many a year and particularly in our country, where we are making anything that is wood or solids; many species, but always solid. Now, we have the opportunity to use plywood equipment and have been using an outline you provided many years ago on the "rules" for plywood. We hired a man who understands the manufacture and we will no doubt have questions as we get along, but right now we are faced with the best way to assemble 3 ply 1/4 inch Into grooves in door stiles. Remember, we have quite a humidity problem. Please help us. Many thanks. Mr. DeB.

A I can see what troubles you. Be sure that the fit of the panel into the groove is an easy slip fit. I would gluesize the endwood of the panel and leave the space at the bottom of the groove at 1/16 inch. Your plant conditions are OK. Be sure to seal all surfaces as soon as possible and finish the units as assembled. I am sure you are well aware of this. Not one inch is to be unfinished or just stained or sealed. You may have orders to go to dry areas and every precaution is to be taken against shrinkage and checking. Your brochures must be very explicit and carefully worded. If we can help, let me know.

Q In order to cope with the VOC thing, we are using a water base stain. Though, I have given you all the specs, I can only say that anything with red oak veneer turns dark once it is out and we are baffled. Can you help us? You have helped many times in the past and we follow your suggestions very carefully. You have a sample of the problem. Mr. I.

A I took this one to my lab and I found some reaction between the water and the veneer and in some parts, between the water and the glue. I have been working with this since contacting you and trust you are out of the woods by now!

Q We produce unbacked and paper backed veneers and we have many inexperienced users that are having problems. What we need is condensed literature that we can send to customers. Can you direct us to the proper source? Looking forward to hearing from you. Mr. S.

A I would contact the Hardwood Plywood Manufacturers Association, 1835 Michael Faraday Dr. Reston, VA 22090. Be certain that you give them all the specs on manufacture and an exact detailed account 6f the problems.

Q We are very careful to demand hardwood lumber as you have directed, dried to 6 1/2 percent moisture content allowing up to 7 percent The mill has been very cooperative for some time and care has been great I find that if one insists on this kind of service and plays along with a mill, that it pays not to push for price, as long as it is fair and it is understood that you will not accept anything other than specified. I bet our readers won't believe this, but if more would require It, I think lot for the industry. Mr. M.

A I have tried to push this for years. Not easy, but a great help!

Q Would you recommend Limba for cabinet manufacture? Mr. Z.

A It has all the qualities except for blue stain. Consult your finish technician concerning stain-toner vs. bleach.

Send questions to Jerry Metz, 2203 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs, Calif. 92264. A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be enclosed for a personal reply. Questions of general interest will be published in this column.
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Title Annotation:Consult Jerry Metz
Author:Metz, Jerry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1992
Previous Article:Tighten the belt when times get tough.
Next Article:Offices to go.

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