Henry Talks – cramping

by ercol on August 15, 2012

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Previously Henry took us through the timber machining process – now he moves onto cramping…..The machined parts will go through the sanding department before heading to either the cramping department – if the parts need to be made into a sub-assembly – before going to the stores, or straight into the machined part stores to be ready for when the assembly shop needs them.

Every part is sanded after it has been machined, to either get the part to the required thickness or to smooth off edges and radii.  Most of the parts go through the Tagliabue (or Tag as it’s known on the factory floor), a massive big box with three big sanding belts inside it and a conveyor belt running through it.  This reduces the thickness of the parts to the required dimensions – we buy all the parts a little over-dimension so we can sand out any damage that has occurred in transport to us. Elsewhere in the sanding department there are bobbin sanders for curved edges, belt sanders for straight edges and for making sides flush and pad sanders for larger pieces that can’t go in the Tag.

The Cramping department is an integral part of the assembly process. In here, everything that needs to get cramped together before it heads into the stores and sent off to the assembly shop are sub-assembled, like the chair underframe you can see in the pictures.

This is also the point where timber matching is carried out. There is a massive variation in the colours and grain of every piece of wood and this is part of the beauty of natural timber – no two pieces are the same.  However, within this natural variation we seek to ensure an overall look that is pleasing and consistent, whilst still showcasing the natural variability of the timber. So, for example, when we’re making an extending Windsor table which has two outer tops and an a inner leaf we look to obtain a continuation in the colour of the timber and the degree of wildness in the grain, especially if the top will be in a light finish, where this is more visible.

No timber is wasted though – a very dark grained top with an uneven amount of grain and colour works well with one of our darker finishes like Golden Dawn or Fruitwood and so will be selected for tables in these finishes, while a consistently coloured top would be good for a lighter finish like Light, Straw or even Clear.  Every single table top, be it big or small, that passes through the factory is matched, marked and then sent to the stores together so the assembly shop can easily match these tops up to the right orders. This is a job for a very keen and quick eye, and needs to be done in good natural light. While I was working in the area matching up my windsor and artisan tops I really found out just how different the wood colours looked in different types of light.

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