Remodeling on a Budget

12. June 2018 09:40

By: Kim Loftis, CaraGreen and Scott Olmstead, Paneltech International

Not everyone has $50,000 to spend on a kitchen remodel.  How can you update your kitchen without spending a fortune?  Close collaboration with your contractor and savvy choices in surfacing materials and finishes can result in a beautiful upfit without costing a fortune.

Consider PaperStone for a countertop.  A ¾” thick piece of PaperStone can be cut using standard woodworking tools and carbide bits and blades, which means a remodeling contractor can do this themselves, cutting out the cost of engaging stone fabricators, who have to template, cut, fabricate and install.  At around $20 per square foot for material, minimizing fabrication costs make it an extremely cost-effective option. But there are many other benefits, as well.

Is it strong?

Only steel is stronger.  The base material in PaperStone has been used for cutting boards, pool tables, skateboard ramps and multi-use concrete release forms.   It performs like stone, but it cuts like wood.  Making it cost effective but high performing. If it happens to get a surface scratch, a quick sanding will make the surface look brand-new.

How does it look?

The matte look of PaperStone is warm to the touch and it is organic in appearance, unlike the glossy, shiny, cold look of stone and quartz. If you want a more natural look that is not reflecting light in all directions, PaperStone is a great choice.  Warm greys, oceanic blues, pure black and more mottled browns and mochas create an organic and natural palette that aligns well with the more subdued styles of the homebuyers today. The surface can be sanded to a variety of matte or smooth textures depending on personal preference.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes!  With over 50% recycled paper, this material is diverting waste and making it into something beautiful.   Leading the surfacing industry in environmental stewardship, PaperStone continues to lead the way in bringing cost-effective beautiful options to the cost and environmentally-conscious remodeler. Its petro-free resins provide a healthy alternative to other surfacing materials that leech toxins into the environment throughout their life.

Learn more about this subject during the Innovation in Composite Materials sessions during the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

Original content from CaraGreen©.


When Does Information Become Knowledge? - Part 3

12. June 2018 09:37

When you’re reading a trade magazine, attending a class, or watching a video, keep in mind that editors, school administrators, and hosts don’t necessarily have their 10,000-hour master craftsman background in the trade they represent. Running a magazine or managing a school doesn’t require master craftsmanship: they require master writers and master administrators. However, these institutions have a financial business model that validates the information they disseminate, or they wouldn’t stay in business.

I’m more concerned with online forums: I see popular YouTube sites that have a lot of subscribers, but hosts are demonstrating unsafe practices without acknowledging their lack of skill or giving a don’t-try-this-at-home warning. How does someone differentiate between a weekend warrior looking for 15 their minutes of fame and the sincere master who want to share quality information as well as make a living?

Don’t get me wrong: there are many schools, publications, and YouTubers that do a great job of teaching, like the colleagues on my upcoming panel discussion. The New England School of Architectural Woodworking, Marc Adams School of Woodworking, FDM+C, Fine Woodworking, Stumpy Nubbs, and Woodworking Guild of America are all top quality outlets. But how do you tell what is safe and what isn’t, when you’re just learning, too?

Please join me to discuss these and other questions with a panel of media experts: we’ll weed through all the information and get to the truth during the When Does Information Become Knowledge session on Thursday, August 23rd from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Will Sampson, Editor, FDMC Magazine

Greg Larson, Director, New England School of Architectural Woodwork

Jim Hamilton, Author and Host, Stumpy Nubs Woodworking YouTube channel

George Vondriska, Host, Woodworkers Guild of America


The most demanding job

7. June 2018 10:49

Admittedly finishing can certainly be the most demanding job in any shop. Knowing the right finish to use, along with the fact that the applications and techniques change with each job. In the same way the selection of the substrate changes in the spec or is requested from your customer.

Because of this, it’s no secret that finishers don’t stay in one place very long, or stay finishers very long either. How, then are you to get a finisher who meets your quality standards? One route to finding finishers is to use your current employees as recruiters. However, first you must ensure that your employees are happy, and the key to satisfied employees is a fun work environment.  As you consider your company culture, a book recommended on this topic is The Game of Work by Charles Coonradt, which is about changing the culture to motivate employees. Once can confirm that you have a healthy, positive work environment, then you should be able to not only find a quality finisher but also retain that key employee.

 “Transitioning to in-house finishing – profitably” will share more advice about bringing finishing in-house and the things to take into account before you do so. This transition can seem overwhelming but this seminar will take you through the steps you will need to consider to be successful.


Stay in front of your target

7. June 2018 10:45

By: Joe Knobbe, Exclusive Woodworking

If you have a design professional that you currently do work for, network with them. They know who else does the type of work that would suit your business. Take them to lunch or invite them for dinner. Listen to them. They know more about their community than you probably do.

Tell them, then show them

When a design professional is interested in the information you can bring to the firm, consider hosting a tour of your facility. Let them see what you make and how you make it. If you have a CNC router, show it in operation. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good demonstration is worth a thousand pictures.

Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time.

Over the years we’ve secured a significant amount of work by being in the right place at the right time. You may have an architect or designer who you’ve bid work for that does work in your market but have never had the opportunity to do any of their work. It’s important to stay in contact with these people because at some point the shop they are currently working with may stumble or just be too busy to get the project completed in time and this is a case where there can be an opportunity for you to step in and step up. This is your time to shine!

One of the best marketing items we ever gave out was travel mugs. It’s been 10 years since we did it and we still see them today. Any number of design professionals has commented that it’s a constant reminder.

For more tips on how to work with architects and designers, attend the session during IWF 2018.


Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment - Part 3

5. June 2018 14:42

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer:

Creating your own metal composite castings makes a unique accent to any woodworking project.

The casting can be made from just about any thing and it starts with a master pattern.
The Master Pattern is the original object or model that a mold is taken from. This is what your casting will look like exactly; every little detail is captured. Patterns are typically made from wood, wax, or clay. You can also use household objects like nuts and bolts, buttons, or existing hardware, too. Or if you choose, you can use Mother Nature’s gifts such as acorns, leaves, rocks, or bark, to name a few.
Even body parts can be used as patterns, like a child’s hand or your nose. In addition, any of these items can be combined and grouped together to make a hybrid: for example, you can use a pine cone attached to a hand carved wooden element.
The Smooth-On’s mold material picks up very fine detail; every pore or wrinkle, and even the finest grain in wood is reproduced.
Lastly, the master doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture; it has only to be strong enough for a mold for be taken from it. You can use super glue, hot melt glue, gum, clay, spit, or whatever works for a temporary assemblage. Keep your mind open for this phase of creating your master pattern—it will enhance your design options. Only your imagination limits the possibilities.
Join me for Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment on Friday, August 24th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Apprenticeship Explained - Part 1

5. June 2018 10:36

By: Urs, Buehlmann, Virginia Tech

The shortfall of skilled labor for advanced manufacturing operations has been discussed at length and one often-named solution to the problem is an increase in apprentices in all types of industries throughout the nation.  If nations with strong apprenticeship programs, such as Austria, Germany, or Switzerland are any guide, such apprenticeship programs indeed can provide advanced manufacturing industries a steady source of high quality employees possessing skills in high demand.  At the same time, it offers graduates of such programs a path to higher paying, steady jobs.

The "Apprenticeships explained" workshop will explain the European understanding of Apprenticeships, how the system works, and what outcomes it generates.  The speakers, some of who started their career as apprentices in Europe, will share their personal insights and contrast it with the American system.  The workshop will also feature a company (Blum, Inc.), which has a highly successful apprenticeship program and a highly successful traditional educational program (Pittsburg State University).


Hardwood Edging - Part 2

5. June 2018 10:32

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer

Applying a hardwood edge to an organic or complex curved table can be a challenge. When the curve is a French serpentine curve, it can be a test in patience and craftsmanship to precisely match up the hardwood to the curved table edge.

In this demonstration, I will show you how to apply a hardwood edge to a curved table top edge by using a set of large, offset template guides that are installed on a router base. When used properly, they will accurately match a hardwood edge to any curve. The same template system from also lets you cut seam inlays quickly and cut perfect parallel outside edges that match an inner seam.

I initially developed this system for an oval demilune table which had a graceful French curve. A French curve is not a simple one-dimensional radius; the radius slowly transitions, so I couldn’t use a simple single axis, one length, radius swing arm on my router to cut the curve. Hence, I came up with this system, which allows me to mate the French curve with a hardwood edge perfectly.

Since then I have used it for various complex curves, large and small, graceful and squiggly. I demonstrate the system on a small asymmetrical heart-shaped table which illustrates most variations that the system can perform. I also use a few students’ projects for various odd details and quirky alternatives.

Join me to learn more at IWF: Curved Joinery, Edges and Inlays on Friday, August 24th from 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM


Start with Why

31. May 2018 12:35

When you are competing for a modern job, or any project for that matter, you need to focus on what sets you apart from the competition, what makes you different. Joe Knobbe of Exclusive Woodworking (Waukegan, IL) has said that at Exclusive they don’t sell a product, but rather they sell their experience and reputation.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why” or listened to his TED talk about the same subject, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will motivate you to rethink your sales process – in a good way.  Sinek shared a concept called “The Golden Circle”, which is graphically represented as a target with three rings: the outer ring is WHAT, the middle ring is HOW, and the bullseye is WHY.

Any company can explain WHAT it does; some can explain HOW they do it; but very few can articulate WHY they do what they do. It’s no doubt that you know WHAT you do. These are products you sell or the services you offer. Perhaps you even know HOW you do it: what makes you special or sets you apart from the competition. But do you know WHY you do what you do? WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause, or belief. It’s the very reason your company exists.

In his opening keynote address at the CMA’s 20th Anniversary Conference, Paul Downs criticized the typical shop’s website for focusing on phrases like “family-owned” or “in business for XX years”. Paul was blunt and told the audience that essentially no one cares about these things.  He didn’t refer to Simon Sinek’s concept of The Golden Circle, but hopefully you now recognize that these things are simply the WHAT. When describing your business, you may get into the HOW with phrases like “hand-crafted” or “using the latest technology” but even those things are not meaningful to your prospective customers. You need to dig deeper and focus on the WHY.

When people start with WHY they are then able to inspire others and achieve remarkable things. They command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike. They are more successful and are also able to repeat their successes over and over. They become more innovative, and ultimately, more profitable.

Once you figure out what your WHY is, then refer to it like crazy. Make sure your employees understand it and embrace it. Use it to promote your company: put it on your home page, create a tag line, add it to your email signature, update your advertising and marketing materials. Get the word out.

To learn more about the sales process related to modern work, register to attend “Acing that modern job” during IWF this summer.


IWF Finishing Symposium 2018

31. May 2018 12:29

It has been estimated that 25 percent of manufacturing cost is in finishing, but it can increase the value of the finished product by 50 percent or more.

The IWF Finishing Symposium will be held August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open on the show floor.

The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes will be discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products.

For the first time, there will be a presentation describing digital printing and staining, an emerging technology more wood products manufacturers are considering.

Final and detailed descriptions of presentations are not yet available. Here are some general subjects that will be part of the program.

What's new with waterborne coatings, and the many advantages of that finish, will be covered, as well as finishes that many shops have not yet adopted, such as polyester, two-component polyurethane and some UV products.

New technology in application equipment will be discussed, including light curtains, robots in finishing, and advanced controls and automation. Higher volume processes and flatline finishing systems will also be discussed.

Looking at the sanding process, and tracking the cost of quality will also be discussed.

Planned speakers will represent the Advanced Wood Processing at University of British Columbia, Sames-Kremlin, Sherwin-Williams, Gemini, Cefla, and North American Plywood.

See for more information.


Health vs. Wealth

30. May 2018 10:52

By: Jessica McNaughton, CaraGreen

The biggest change to come to the building industry in a long time is putting people first.  Traditional construction mentality has been “How do we achieve the owner’s goals while also meeting the budget and putting more money in my pocket?” 

The new way of thinking is “How do I make sure the occupants have a pleasant experience in this space?”  This is evidenced by the new WELL Building Standard.  Occupant health and productivity are the main objectives of the standard. It is gaining momentum as a complementary and competing standard to LEED.  While LEED focused on building systems and operation, with some elements of occupant health being considered, you could have a LEED certified building with no evidence of any consideration for the well-being of the occupants.  With WELL, every design element is evident and its purpose is clear.  Organic fruit provided in the kitchen, an herb garden, flexible seating and daylighting are all clear implementations of the WELL standard.  And while LEED is a complicated acronym that tries to tie the environment in with design, WELL means just that: WELL.  Design well and your employees should be well. That is the whole premise.

Biophilic design is a hot topic in the design world, addressing the innate human need to be part of nature.  As we deprive ourselves and our children of more and more time outside, we are creating a gap between our need to be with nature and the actual time we spend around these natural elements.  An easy solution for that is to incorporate these natural elements into the built space.  There are many techniques one can implement to do that, many of which are spelled out in the principles of Biophilic design.  These techniques are much of the underpinning of the WELL Standard.

I know, I know- not another building standard.  LEED was hard to stomach the first time around, and then with the v4 revisions it was shunned by many.  Where was my ROI? What is this going to cost me?  Show me some actual data- I want facts to drive my hard work and money.  And there was none to show because it was so new.

The WELL Standard and Biophilic Design were created based on data compiled as early as 2013.  Data that shows patients have shorter hospital stays and use less medication when exposed to Biophilic techniques.  Data that shows employees are substantially more productive.  Students and Teachers are much less absent when they are in an environment that incorporates nature views and proper daylighting.

How does this tie into building materials? 

Product manufacturers have struggled for years trying to be “green’ and find their path to market.  Because they were more costly, they were either not considered or the first to go during the value engineering process.  Recycled content was not enough to get them in the door. 

But now the path is becoming clearer for those that have survived.

Incorporating color is a factor in Biophilic Design, (picture vibrant greens, earthy browns) extensive studies show color can stimulate the mind.  Warm, organic surfaces or textured surfaces are more engaging than cold and smooth.  Wood grains evoke nature, and reclaimed and textured wood surfaces are playful, inviting.  Acoustic treatments with shapes or vibrant colors can not only liven up a space, but they can make it more pleasant for employees by dampening sound.  

As a distributor, we at CaraGreen have amassed the brands that we have found to be good environmental stewards, while bringing beautiful materials to market.  We have also found that this leads to cultivating a suite of materials that encompass the Biophilic Principles. 

“People first” is not a passing trend, nor is our need to be part of nature.  There are real measured phenomena that make our lives better.  Our health should not be overlooked to save a few dollars.  The associated benefits of enhanced employee well-being, through increased productivity and loyalty, also backed by numerous counts of data and reports, is just another reason to follow these revolutionary design principles.  Employees and occupants will not only be healthier, but will also perform better in a variety of situations.  Through the WELL standard and Biophilic Design there is finally a path to market for these amazing materials that have been waiting for their opportunity to contribute to human health.   Our health is our biggest asset, and building owners are starting to take note by putting less in their pocket for a healthier, more productive workforce. 

 Learn more about this topic during the "Wood Products and Biophilic Design" session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

Original content from CaraGreen©.