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The metamorphosis of M & J Woodcrafts.


CNC routers and sanding equipment help M & J Woodcrafts make the transition from furniture to cabinet door manufacturing. Within two years, M & J Woodcrafts, a division of Fountain Hill Holdings, expanded from a small furniture company to a leading North American supplier of MDF doors. Working with an employee base of 28 people, the Surrey, British Columbia-based company supplies doors to cabinet-makers in diverse places including Alaska, Hawaii and New Jersey.

A large part of the Canadian-based company's success is attributed to the addition of a SCMI CNC router, a Shoda CNC router and Fladder sanding equipment. "If it weren't for the two routers and the sanding machines, there's no way we could cope with volume and maintain quality," said Mike Williams, president of M & J Woodcrafts.

M & J Woodcrafts had made solid oak dining room furniture until 1989 when offshore furniture suppliers forced the company to find a field in which it could compete. After purchasing an SCMI CNC router, the company was approached to machine MDF doors by a major kitchen cabinet manufacturer. M & J Woodcrafts began to manufacture MDF doors using Ranger board from Blue Ridge Lumber.

M & J Woodcrafts began producing doors at such a high volume that the process began to bottleneck at the sanding operation. Because the doors were completely hand sanded, the company was using thousands of dollars on sanding materials. In addition, the grueling work was, "burning out our employees," said Williams.

In the spring of 1990, a sanding machine was purchased from Fladder Systems/Hansen & Hundebol Inc. The 300 AUT Fladder machine reduced the hand sanding operation by 50 percent and enabled eight men to move to other positions. Furthermore, the sander doubled the production capabilities. The company was billing $100,000 a month and in order to meet demands the men became "slaves to the business," said Williams. "With the increased productivity of the Fladder, we couldn't cope with the volume."

To maintain this new level of productivity, the company needed to upgrade its other processes. In addition to spray equipment and dust-free spray booths, M & J Woodcrafts purchased a custom-built, eight-headed Shoda CNC router. The machine reduced set-up time because it could be downloaded from a computer in the office. It gave the company just-in-time capabilities and allowed custom sizing from one door to 1,000 doors. M & J Woodcrafts insists on using diamond router bits, supplied by Royce of Canada, and uses the Smartcam software package from Computer Router Services with the Shoda router.

The Shoda was used to create sharp corners on cornered raised panel doors, a style that became so popular, the company worked two shifts a day for six months to try to keep up with demand.

To maintain productivity, the company needed to upgrade its sanding equipment and again turned to Fladder. After training and experimenting with Fladder machinery, the company bought a Fladder 300/Gyro in February 1991. This machine reduced the amount of work that needed to be hand sanded by an additional 65 percent. Since the addition of the Fladder, the company has been able to increase production by 36 percent, reduce delivery dates by 30 days and set sales records.

"Changing from furniture manufacturing to door manufacturing was hard work," said Williams. But it was worth it. Since undergoing the metamorphosis from furniture to cabinets, sales have increased tenfold. He attributes his company's success not only to the quality of the machinery, but to the teamwork of his employees and the expertise of his suppliers. M & J Woodcrafts found that the routers and the sanding machines helped set the pace in the shop and maintain high-quality. In addition, the "team of production people are completely in tune with quality and are in control of the machines," said Williams, adding that employees are proud to work with high-tech equipment and realize that they have received valuable training.

Williams said he thinks M & J Woodcrafts ranks among the biggest and most high-tech MDF fabricators in the Pacific Northwest. The company supplies about 28 types of doors to high-end cabinetmakers. The hottest selling item is a custom sharp-corner one-piece raised panel door that has the look of a five-piece oak door. These doors, which make up 65 percent of the company's business, are in production 16 hours a day with the help of the Fladder 300/Gyro and the Shoda router.

PHOTO : The custom, eight-headed Shoda CNC router helps M & J Woodcrafts produce sharp corner, raised panel MDF doors 16 hours a day. The machine routs two doors at a time.

PHOTO : To maintain cut quality, M & J Woodcrafts has chosen to use diamond router bits with its Shoda CNC router.

PHOTO : Right, close-up of the Fladder 300/Gryo, which sands and denibs every door in production at M & J Woodcrafts. The Fladder, has cut sanding in half.

PHOTO : Multiple coats of enamel are used to create the mirror finish on high-gloss MDF cabinet doors. This sharp-corner door makes up 65 percent of M & J Woodcraft's business.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Dunne, Beverly
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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