Buying factory-made components (outsourcing) has obvious advantages for a woodshop. Those include broadening the catalog offering, saving shop time and space, and allowing more jobs to be processed simultaneously. One of the less obvious upsides is innovative design. A shop owner is in effect hiring the supplier’s designers, and then adding their abilities to the shop’s creative team. With outsourcing, a shop is also more likely now to buy completely manufactured components from a North American manufacturer, rather than shopping abroad. The domestic supply chain has been affected less by the pandemic than overseas suppliers.
Jeff Miller is the CEO of Century Components in Sugarcreek, Ohio (centurymade.com). He says his company is “strong on American made, so our products are incrementally higher in cost (not by much) than our competition who rely on importing their products. But balancing that, we are an Amish company so we operate on lower overhead and can sell for a bit less than typical U.S. manufacturers. And we find that in every region of the country there is a core of mid- to high-end kitchen builders who appreciate products that make their kitchens look and function better, so they are willing to pay a bit more for it.”
Solid hardwoods, a reputation for high quality, and regular new product offerings are also helping Century become a major player. For example, the company has recently introduced a line of base pullouts with canisters and knife blocks installed. These are completely finished units – all a shop needs to do is install them and add a door.
Outsourcers need to provide versatility, too, because kitchen clients seek a custom identity. (Miller notes that his new canister pullouts are offered in five standard widths for 6” to 12” minimum openings). That’s important when shopping for a cabinet or furniture supplier: they need to be able to address changing demographics, among other concerns.
More and more Americans are choosing to spend their later years at home, and that means the heights of countertops and wall cabinet placement may need to be lowered from the traditional standards.
Passage between islands and cabinet banks may need to be widened too, to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. And full-extension slides make it a lot easier for older clients to find what they need in drawers, while sliding shelves are also helpful.
At the other end of the market, young customers – especially those in urban settings – often tend to favor sleek design with a European flair, so your supplier must be able to offer a wide range of finishes, coatings and door/drawer face designs. And as taste is fickle and trends tend to move quickly, the supplier also needs to be in touch with where the market is headed so they can help the woodshop keep up.
Keystone Wood Specialties in Lancaster, Pa. (keystonewood.com) is keenly aware of trends and in response the company has introduced a new program called Feature Doors. It’s a collection of samples that show customers the latest popular designs and finishes. Woodshops can purchase 12” x 15” samples in kits of six or 10 doors, or even buy them individually. When the shop enters these doors in the Keystone online instant pricing system, they populate automatically. Keystone is also offering a dedicated Carrying Case makes it easy to carry the samples to the customer’s home.
Elias Woodwork (eliaswoodwork.com) has launched a new line of mullion door options that is designed to save shops some money. Traditional mullion doors are made of solid curved parts where the grain follows the curve and the bars are coped into the frame. These new versions are machined out of a single piece of HDF or solid wood, which results in the grain running in just one direction. They’re manufactured as a separate insert and the woodshop can then order a matching frame and add the glass on the jobsite. Screw-on glass retainer clips are available. Paint, stain, lacquer and raw finishes are available. And for those sophisticated clients who are looking for clean lines, Elias has also introduced the Precision Series of slim frame Shaker doors. These have a very narrow frame fixed to a 3/4” thick panel.
WalzCraft in LaCrosse, Wis. has a new line called Old World Cabinet Doors that feature increased thickness, deep profiles, and wider stiles and rails that together create a high-end product with a dramatic look and feel. The company has just added the Signature Series to this line, which includes three doors in light to dark shades of gray stain, as well as blue and green SolidTone (paint) finishes. Woodshops can customize any Old World doors by adding center panel face routing, decorative inserts, applied molding and a large variety of finish combinations.
New from Rehau in Grand Rapids, Mich. (rehau.com) is Rauvisio noir, a monotone matte surface that features “the intensely rich and muted aesthetic of film noir”. It’s available as sheets and as custom cabinet doors and faces. With the addition of noir, the Rauvisio line now has more than a hundred finishes in matte, high-gloss, glass, natural and metal. Noir comes in twelve black, white, deep gray, muted sea and emerald tones. The cabinet doors feature double-sided matte facing on a MDF core, with matching LaserEdge zero-joint edgebanding.
Wood Tech Industries in Pulaski, Wis. (woodtechindustries.com) has added two new product categories, processed veneer slab doors and circle sawn rustic doors. The former has a stable particleboard core (CARB2 compliant), with 1-3/4” wide stiles and rails. It gives the impression of a single wide board, but without the warping. The 1” thick rustic doors mimic old barn-board doors and any dirt marks or water stains are considered to be part of the rustic look. Small structurally sound knots may also be present.
Decore-ative Specialties in Monrovia, Calif. (décor.com) offers a broad catalog of cabinet and furniture components including RTA cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, drawer boxes, moldings and accessories. Among the latter are wood corbels, posts, wine bottle racks, valances, rosettes and more. The company also offers finishing kits for shops that want to apply coatings to accent pieces that they make in-house and want to match pieces from the supplier.
Hettich America (hettich.com) is based in Buford, Ga. and has introduced a new line of very sleek aluminum drawers with very thin 8 mm (5/16”) sides. Called AvoriTech, the product is manufactured for Hettich by the German company Poggenpohl which has been a pioneer in designing thin, strong components. AvoriTech’s adjustments are hidden by unobtrusive, essentially invisible cover caps that can be easily removed and replaced. The face can be adjusted with the drawer in place, and there’s tilt adjustment behind the rear panel.
Based in Owensboro, Ky., Cabaxis is a division of CabiNotch that offers wholesale, dovetailed drawer boxes with 1/2” bottoms, and they are shipped in five days or less. The parent company has developed an innovative system for making face-framed cabinet boxes that involves a patented interlocking joint. Woodshops can order that ready-to-assemble casework (made PureBond hardwood plywood), and at the same time order matching Cabaxis drawer boxes by creating an online account at cabinotch.us.
Amish Country Woodworx (acwoodworx.com) is located in Goshen, Ind. and combines the best of traditional hand craftsmanship with the latest production and ordering technology. The website is especially user-friendly for woodworkers who aren’t particularly fond of spending time on the computer. This supplier offers three levels of materials in dovetail drawers – the economical Express series, the Custom Select grouping with lots of hardwood options, and the completely unique Designer Series that combines “custom specs with any species,” according to the company.
New England Drawer (newenglanddrawer.com) in Hampton, N.H. builds select and premium drawers, where in the select version a molder creates an eased edge prior to assembly, and this can save a woodshop 10 percent on an order. The company offers three-day turnaround on dovetail drawers.
Down the road in New Milford, Conn., Timbercraft Custom Dovetailed Drawers (timbercraftdrawers.com) uses lean manufacturing practices to complete orders in 3-5 days. The company slogan is “in 15 years we have never been late”. Timbercraft only makes drawer boxes and focuses on small- to medium-size cabinetmakers located throughout the Northeast.
CCF Industries in Apollo, Pa. (ccfdrawers.com) also understands the need for speed and the company says if a woodshop provides custom specs, they’ll have a quote via fax within one hour and there’s no minimum order. CCF offers a host of custom options such as laser engraving, edgebanding, front and side scoops, file slots with or without bars, and undermount drawer slide notching.
In late August, Osborne Wood Products in Toccoa, Ga. (osbornewood.com) added two interesting table legs to its catalog. Both in the Solaris Acrylic line, one is a coffee table leg and the other is for dining tables. The former (part 2354) comes in paint-grade soft maple, red oak, knotty pine and cherry and is 18” tall and 3-1/2” square at the top. The company says that it “pairs the modest silhouette of a tapered wooden leg with an eye-catching acrylic accent”. Each leg comes as a kit that contains two wood pieces, an acrylic center, a threaded metal rod, a nut and a washer. There are also a couple of plastic protectors to place on the exposed ends of the threaded rod when the leg is disassembled for finishing. The matching table leg (2154) is 29” tall.
Brown Wood Inc. in Lincolnwood, Ill. has released a new catalog, Furniture Findings, that features American-made furniture components. It includes a number of turned and forged legs, plus accents such as metal bow-tie keys and ferrules, plus pedestals for farm tables. And the company’s Designs of Distinction catalog (brownwoodinc.com/dod) has added new square, toe-kick height feet that have 4-1/2″ tall metal sleeves. These perfectly match DOD’s square columns with metal sleeves in its Urban Collection. Created for the toe kick space, the new feet are designed to add a pop of color to cabinets and furniture. They’re available with or without a hanger bolt.
Designer Matthew Burak’s website, TableLegs.com, has introduced a new spiral fluted furniture foot called the Newport. The company describes it as “an old turned form that has been enhanced with deep spiral flutes”. The foot comes in a variety of spirals and heights of 4-1/2” and 5-1/2”, and is an ideal accent for larger-scaled Colonial, Traditional and Country furniture such as beds, sofas, upholstered chairs, kitchen islands, vanities, dressers and cabinets. Precision cut and detailed, it was designed and handcrafted in the U.S., and is hand-sanded to 180 grit. A shop can choose from eight species of sustainably grown wood that has been hand-selected for grain and color.
Hardware can make a big difference when it comes to customer satisfaction. Components made overseas don’t always have top of the line, name-brand handles, pulls, supports or slides and if they fail, so does the woodshop’s reputation.
One area where high quality hardware is becoming increasingly important is in controlling the movement of wider, deeper drawers. That’s because consumers are espousing large base drawers as part of a shift toward cleaner lines and less clutter. Customers want to be able to hide countertop appliances such as coffee makers and toasters, and older homeowners appreciate not having to lift and store heavy items up at eye level.
Among the new solutions here is the Futura Push Synchroniser from Salice (salice.com), which was developed to allow drawers of any width to be opened with minimum effort. The system is essentially a bar at the back of the drawer that links the two slide runners, turning them into a single element. Pressure at any point on the drawer frontal (even at the extremities) will engage the Push devices and allow the drawer to self-open. The synchronizer can be used with any drawer width, but its functionality is at its best with wider drawers.
Fulterer USA (fultererusa) has introduced the FR56 series for larger drawers. The full-extension ball bearing slides are rated for 225 lbs. and the new FR 5619 has an anti-tilt mechanism built in. This is a telescoping 3-stage slide with a 0.98” over-extension, and it’s non-handed (fits left or right). Lengths are available from 15-3/4” to 27-1/2”.
Another solution to clutter is creating storage in layers, where racks slide sideways on tracks and reveal more storage racks behind them. A new medium-duty linear track system from Accuride (115RC) was designed specifically for such applications. Its lightweight, corrosion-resistant tracks can be side, flat, or vertically mounted for movable walls, sliding racks, screens, panels and partitions.
Häfele America introduced another type of hardware in August. The company’s new zinc Ixconnect CC 8/5/30 claw connector is a single piece of hardware that connects wooden drawers quickly and easily, and does so without tools. As such, it’s an ideal solution for outsourced components, especially those that will be assembled on the jobsite. To use the system, a shop just needs to drill a few standard holes (8 mm in front, 5 mm on the sides) for the patented CC 8/5/30 to claw into perpendicular panel material and deliver a nice, tight fit. Wooden drawer panels as thin as a half inch have a reliable, invisible connection when the claw bites into the MDF panels.
New from Blum in Stanley, N.C. (blum.com) is the U.S. release of Easystick, a ruler system that helps shops set up Blum machines for drilling components to fit hardware. It works on the company’s three MiniPress machines, and the woodworker just enters the dimensions of the part and Easystick will automatically calculate the positions for stops and then move them. It’s a big help for shops that don’t have a CNC, and custom configurations can be saved for future work. Updates for new hardware can be added to the control panel via memory stick.
Last year, Grass USA (grassusa.com) introduced the newest version of its classic Nove Pro drawer box line, the Nova Pro Scala. This elegant, slim edge system comes in Silver, Ice, and Stone colors in the heights from 63mm (2-1/2”) to 250mm (9.84”) tall. It handles load ratings from 88 to 154 lbs.
Hardware Resources (hardwareresources.com) has locations across the U.S. and the company designs, engineers and manufactures an extensive line of products for the kitchen, bath and closet industries under four brand names – Jeffrey Alexander, Elements, Task Lighting, and Hardware Resources. The company only sells its own products.
For shops that want to peruse several manufacturers’ wares at once, CabinetParts.com in Pompano Beach, Fla. offers hinges, slides, knobs, pulls and storage organizers plus a wide range of lighting, laminates, solid wood counters, furniture components, drawers, veneers, tools and templates. The catalog also includes cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
Outwater Plastics has two locations in Bogota, N.J. and Phoenix, Ariz. The company offers a vast range of components for the woodworking industry, and woodshops can download the latest catalog in sections at outwaterphotogallery.com/mastercatalog. Among the new products from Rev-A-Shelf (rev-a-shelf.com) is a telescoping valet rod (CVLSL-14-CR-1) that lets a customer pull a suit or a dress out of a closet and hang it on the rod while they get ready to put it on. The rod holds up to 35 lbs. (perfect for overnight suit bags) and pulls right where it’s needed in front of the clothes in the closet. It can be hidden away under a fixed shelf or behind a cabinet door.
Richelieu Hardware (richelieu.com) has come out with a new full access, concealed, undermount drawer slide called the Series 718, and an accompanying front locking device. The slide is available in four lengths from 15-3/4” to 21-5/8”, and has 7/8 partial extension with a soft-close mechanism. It’s compatible with both Hettich and Blum drilling patterns and has a 75-lb. capacity.
Woodshops often need to make casts and copies of intricate carved or turned components, and Smooth-On Inc. in Macungie. Pa. (smooth-on.com) offers a two-day seminar on that technology. The sessions include videos and hands-on demonstrations that introduce woodworkers to the basics of mold making and casting. Attendees do their own hands-on projects and also watch a variety of demonstrations such as how to make urethane plastic look like wood.
Shops building beds or walls of casework in bedrooms might want to stop by the Create-A-Bed website (createabed.com) and check out the options for Murphy Beds (they lift up and store out of sight). Three levels of affordable mechanisms are available, including the latest adjustable deluxe version that lets a woodworker control the lifting tension without having to take anything apart or play with large springs. It just requires a few seconds and a cordless drill.
Doug Mockett & Co. in Torrance, Calif. (mockett.com) has just added the UCS3 Mini Under Desk USB Charger to its catalog of specialty lighting, phone chargers, pop-up power outlets and other innovative furniture components and architectural hardware. The charger gives woodworkers an easy way to add a couple of USB chargers out of sight under a countertop or desktop for that extra little detail that sets a shop apart from the competition.
And for shops that want to provide something completely different, Ontario-based MakeItMetal (makeitmetal.com) applies coatings to a variety of surfaces such as wood and MDF to create the look, texture, and feel of real metal. It can be used on turned forms and architectural components, and matching sheet stock is also available that can be worked with standard woodworking tools. More cost effective and enviro nmentally responsible than traditional plating, or casting, the technique can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.
This article was originally published in the November 2020 issue.