Henry talks – furniture assembly

by ercol on October 16, 2012

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In the latest of his blogs, Henry, great-grandson of ercol’s founder talks about his time in the assembly shop during his factory induction:

Continuing my route through the factory I followed the cramped and sanded parts as they left the machine shop and headed towards the machined part stores. These stores bisect the factory, on one side of the stores is the machine shop where all the timber gets machined into parts and on the other side are the assembly, polishing and upholstery shops. We make parts in batch runs, so depending on the size and demand of the part runs are anything from 30 to 300 parts, and they then get stored away in the machined part stores. When the weekly order list is compiled this is then sent to the two store men who will pick out each individual part required for each piece of furniture that needs to be made in that week based on individual customer orders. They are then placed ready for the assembly shop to pick them up.

The assembly shop is split into three different areas, the cabinet shop, the table shop and the chair shop. I spent two weeks in each “shop” to understand the various methods used and to assemble most of the pieces that we are currently making in the factory. Each shop has a different way of working but there are generally three stages in the assembly. In the cabinet shop, for example, the prefab and cramping of the carcass will happen first; the prefab is when the inner parts of the cabinets are put together; the cramping of the carcass is when the top, bottom and sides are cramped together holding the prefabed inner parts in. The carcass will then be sanded by the pad sander on all sides and then finished off all over by hand. The cabinet is then completed in the fitting section where the doors and drawers are made to fit each individual cabinet by a cabinetmaker sanding away at different parts to get a good fit.

The table shop works in a similar way, in general the legs and under-frame of the table will be put together first, the leafs of the table top will be sanded to be level, then the table top is affixed to the under-frame. The table top is then finished off by hand to give it a very smooth feel. The chair shop also works similarly, working from the basic structure which is normally the under-frame upwards, with the bows going on last before the legs are levelled and the whole thing is finished off. The chair shop also assembles our solid wood framed upholstery, like the Evergreen, Renaissance and Bergere ranges.

Once the piece of furniture is finished and has been checked over it will then go out of the assembly shop towards the polishing shop and will be one step closer to going out the door.

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