MASS-PRODUCED WOOD FURNITURE©       

If you prefer to begin with THE STORY OF FURNITURE, click on:
https://dearfriend.buzz/category/furniture/?order=asc

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FIRE  •   WEAPONS  •  TOOLS  •  SHELTER
Early man used wood as if it came with instructions!

The Industrial Revolution gave us democratization of wood furniture:
machine technology enabled uniform production of legs, arms, spindles, rails, splats and joinery techniques.

As I began visiting international manufacturers of everyday essentials, a highly respected NYC architect/interior designer of commercial spaces insisted I visit Fancher Chair because of the excellent quality of their mass-produced wood chairs.

A region of rich farm land in southwestern New York State known as the ‘fruit-belt’ was home to Fancher Chair because of select native hardwoods as red and white oak, maple, cherry and ash.

I never heard of Fancher Chair but the interior designer smiled and said I probably had sat upon many of their contract chairs in offices, libraries, restaurants, hotels and motels throughout the U. S.—from Marriott’s to the Waldorf Astoria.

And so,  I first visited Fancher Chair in Falconer, New York 20 years ago. Older buildings had been modernized and ‘green’ standards were in place before environmentalists gave it a name.

Fancher Chair not only made and sold contract chairs (that I ‘probably sat upon’) ; they also made chairs for international furniture companies who would hand-stain, hand-finish and ‘seat’ them for their own prestigious brand-name collections.

During my visit, Bruce Erickson introduced employees by name as he extolled their Yankee work ethic. I witnessed chair production that incorporated excellent standards of quality and became my standards for furniture quality.  

Each task; shaping, cutting, sanding, drilling a mortise and shaping a tenon was performed—one at a timefor one componentby one operatoron one machine. Production was slow—albeit excellent.

CURRENT FACTORY PRODUCTION:

Fancher’s production still begins with dimension stock, (wood pre-cut by lumber mills in sizes specified according to end use). Their lumber mill has already kiln dried the lumber to a level of 6 to 8% moisture.

Too dry, wood absorbs glue and doesn’t develop a bond.
Too wet, wood may warp and twist.

SQUARING WOOD STOCK:
dimension stock for blog

Before components are shaped, dimension stock must be ‘ripped’ by a ripping saw at the furniture factory, to assure edges are all perfectly squared at right angles.

Fancher Chair had always been capital and labor intensive
but during my recent visit, I witnessed significant change.

Now, capital expenditures include digital technology that
not only speeds production; it improves the consistency
of their excellent quality.

Chairman Emeritus Bruce Erickson demonstrated how
digital technology makes current production superior.

CURRENT PRODUCTION OF UNIFORM COMPONENTS:

Skilled operators program digital machines to perform several tasks simultaneously and precisely—for one— or one thousand components.

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blog Fancher components

In one operation, components are shaped
complete with mortise and tenon or double dowels.

The accuracy and speed of perfect precision is a dream.
 And we—the consumer—are beneficiaries!

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Machines simultaneously cut and shape components for both
left and right sides of a chair.

parson-rocker

ASSEMBLY OF WOOD COMPONENTS:

How components are joined;
is a measure of craftsmanship and quality.

MORTISE AND TENON:
A mortise (drilled cavity) and tenon (projection at the end of a component) are glued and interlocked to resist movement and provide maximum stability.

new mortise and tenon for blog

These photographs illustrate the consistency of perfectly precise fittings
—because of digital technology.    

Precision joinery for blog

 

final table blog Fancher

Glue flash binds in 15 minutes and achieves 85% binding strength in 30 minutes.

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All components of this chair have been glued, joined and held in spring clamps for one hour prior to sanding by a rotating sanding machine.

Standards are rigid as finished frames are examined under brilliant light as traces of excess glue are scraped, sanded and buffed if necessary prior to staining or finishing.

Examined under bright lights

 STAINING AND FINISHING

After inspection, Fancher’s made-to-specification chair frames are shipped to their status brand manufacturers who use labor intensive techniques to stain and finish them to match finishes of their furniture collections.

Fancher employees stain and finish their contract chairs’ in their factory.
 ASSEMBLY LINE FOR MASS-STAINING FOR BLOG

Conveyors advance frames through a succession of hand-rub-downs, sprays of toners, non-grain raising stains, wiping by hand, more sprays of sealers, lacquers, hot-air blasts, more hand-rub-downs and final waxing.  This controls cost and maintains good quality.
Stained chair

Finished frames are seated according to specification.  Machine-woven caning, plywood covered with padded upholstery fabric or webbing are only a few of the possibilities.

PULL UP A CHAIR!

risom-web-backSM

HAVE A SEAT!

nakashima

PLEASE SIT DOWN!

riart

Fancher is one of many long-standing, good-quality global businesses affected by rising raw material, technology and labor costs but digital technology has contributed greatly to the speed and consistent excellence of their current chair production.

Leaving Falconer, I marveled not only at how Fancher Chair
maintains their standard of excellence for mass-produced
wood chairs, but at how far man has come to perform tasks
formerly powered by treadles, winches and steam.

Pat Breen: EYEWITNESS TO QUALITY

I have no commercial ties and neither promote nor negate brand names for any of the international everyday products I write about.

I’m proud to make two exceptions:
one for artisan wood furniture from
KITTINGER FURNITURE;
the other for mass-produced furniture from
FANCHER CHAIR.

My posts explore the excellence of their furniture
made in America,
in western New York,
where I grew up and where I live!

My next post: CHOOSING WOOD FURNITURE

ARTISAN WOOD FURNITURE©

If you prefer to begin with THE STORY OF FURNITURE, click on:
https://dearfriend.buzz/category/furniture/?order=asc

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KITTINGER FURNITURE
2012 BEST:   MADE IN AMERICA


 2012 BEST:
for Excellence in Design and American Manufacturing

Accepting this prestigious award at the U.S. Capitol July 4th, 2012,
Ray Bialkowski, President of Kittinger,
praised his company, employees and hand-crafted products
as symbols of ‘Made in America’. 
 

Founded in Buffalo in 1866, Kittinger Furniture’s unparalleled craftsmanship enriches many rooms in the White House including the oval office —and throughout the country:  presidential libraries, boardrooms and living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and home offices of American families. 

oVAL WHITE HOUSE TABLE
The U. S. Cabinet meets around this 22’ x 7’ Kittinger conference table.

 And this past February, Raymond Bialkowski,
delivered 16 new leather chairs made for the Roosevelt Room,
a staff meeting room in the West Wing—steps from the Oval Office.

kittinger at White House

Mahogany is the hallmark of Kittinger furniture.
Their experts select prime mahogany in South America to meet rigid specifications.
It is kiln dried and pre-cut to their specification.
 

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All furniture is hand crafted by:
cabinetmakers, carvers, wood and veneer experts.
Stains and finishes are hand-applied, hand-sanded and hand-rubbed.

Historical research is fundamental in Kittinger designs.  Sketches are drafted into auto-cad drawings—then detailed drawings— for making jigs and templates for cutting parts in the Kittinger mill.  

Kittinger’s production standards apply
to all artisan wood furniture —traditional or contemporary.
They will help you judge quality for yourself.

VENEERS TO CREATE FLAT SURFACES:

veneer combo for blogThe standard thickness of mahogany veneer is 1/32″ .

A continuous roll of veneer is peeled 
by spinning a wet, trimmed log on a rotary lathe against a sharp blade
.
Flat sheets of veneer are sawn 
 across or lengthwise for different grain patterns .

 

cutting veneeer at kittinger

Flat surfaces are constructed of five layers for warp-resistance and stability.
The core of each flat panel is a five ply construction
and glued to each side of the core is a cross-banded veneer.
 Kittinger applying veneer to substrate for blog

Mahogany face veneers are applied to both sides, completing the panel.
The direction of grain is alternated for each layer—for surface strength.

Glue is applied between each layer:
finished boards are clamped for 24 hours to assure perfect union. 

slip matching

Before application, face veneers are inspected.  Some are slip-matched or book matched to align the direction and configuration of nature’s artwork —and then perfectly matched on furniture tops, doors and drawers.

Plywood for blog

Rubber sanding machines smooth flat surfaces;
other machinery sands all edges.


FURNITURE COMPONENTS:
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A single pattern may have hundreds of parts:
tops, sides, drawers, doors, dust panels, moldings, legs, etc.

Carefully following the draftsman’s detail drawings, digital technology is used to shape precise furniture components as chair top rails, arms and legs from selections of solid mahogany.

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 MULTIPLE  CARVER:

machine shaping at Kittinger

Carving uniform arm and leg components for tables and chairs.

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 ARTISAN HAND-CARVING:

Components as cabriole legs are hand-carved,
and some are embellished by hand-carving or engraving.
 
Artisan carving for blog x

A hand-carver fashions a scroll on the knee of a cabriole leg ending in a ‘claw and ball‘ foot. With concentration and intensity, the artisan uses hand tools to freely achieve a three-dimensional design.

component apron for blog

One leg takes more than a day to hand-carve;
almost one week to complete four.

legs and feet for blog

ARTISAN MADE QUEEN ANNE CHAIR

Artisan Queen Anne chair for blog


unfinished chair for blog

Components for every chair are joined
and sanded, corner blocks installed and
splat edges rounded by hand-sanding,
all by a single cabinetmaker.

Every chair is perfect prior to staining
and finishing.

 

ASSEMBLY:
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Solid wood, prepared for double dowel joinery.
HIGH BOY KITT

                                                                     

Master  craftsmen join components for bookcase/secretary units and ‘high and
low
boys’ with drawers.

All drawers have dovetailed corners and
glide on mahogany rails; a costly and superior method of drawer construction.

Drawer interiors are mahogany veneer.
Solid pine dust panels separate all drawers.

                                            Bombe chest and drawers for blog                               
Three inch thick blocks of mahogany are used to create the curved bottom of this bombé  shaped ‘chest-on-chest’.  Because of the curve, dovetails for the
drawers are cut at compound angles.


ROUTING

Wood inlays for blog

Computer-controlled routers eliminate imprecision and heighten efficiency by performing several cutting and boring operations at once, allowing craftsmen to focus on the fine art of wood-working. 

Small pieces of veneer are inlaid in the troughs cut by the routing machine in flat surfaces of wood furniture before staining.

Kittinger inlay for blog
Inlaid woods are covered with shellac so they don’t absorb stain.
The checkerboard is made by alternating inlays of contrasting veneers.

 HAND-STAINING AND HAND-FINISHING:

Kittinger hand finishing

Diverse finishes are applied–all by hand–in 21 to 24 steps.  The natural wood furniture is bleached to a uniform color and dried overnight before stain is applied by hand. 

Because bleaches and stains raise grain, wood is hand-sanded after every application. Wood fillers are applied to fill any porosity. Inner-drawer wood is sealed —but not stained.

A final coat of lacquer imparts high gloss and the heirloom furniture is sanded one last time, hand-rubbed to a glassy finish and delivered to their prestigious destinations .

I first visited the Kittinger factory 20 years ago but never
forgot my respect and appreciation for their principles of
excellence!
My recent visit generated my same respect and appreciation.

The following pictures illustrate the vast real estate necessary
to produce these heirlooms of the future!
 

KITTINGER REAL ESTATE

Pat Breen: EYEWITNESS TO QUALITY

I have no commercial ties and neither promote nor negate brand names for any of the international everyday products I write about.

I’m proud to make two exceptions:
one is artisan wood furniture from KITTINGER FURNITURE;
the other is mass-produced furniture from FANCHER CHAIR.

My posts explore the excellence of their furniture
made in America,
in western New York,
where I grew up and where I live
!

My next postMASS-PRODUCED WOOD FURNITURE : Fancher Chair

 

EMBELLISHMENT OF WOOD FURNITURE ©

If you prefer to begin with THE STORY OF FURNITURE, click on:
https://dearfriend.buzz/category/furniture/?order=asc

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CARVING:
Component carving by hand for blogBy hand:

Artisan craftspeople use special carving tools to freely cut away (displace) wood to create a three-dimensional design in the surface of wood.
Chisel marks are called wood carvers ‘beauty marks’.

blog multiple carving
By machine:
Exacting duplicate shapes can be machine carved.


EMBOSSING:
Embossing for blog x

Embossing is easily identified because it lacks tool marks.
Steel cutting dies are pressed deeply into wood to create a raised three dimensional design (known as ‘relief’ ). Wood fibers are compacted —not cut away or displaced.


ENGRAVING:
Engraving on artisan furniture for blog
Skilled craftsmen guide engraving tools to create designs by displacing wood.

INLAYS:
Component leg and apron with wood inlay for blogVeneer shapes fill spaces cut-out of surfaces of a different veneer
to create designs of contrasting wood grains and color.

Designs are also inlaid with varieties of wood veneer, brass and ivory.

DISTRESSING:
instant antique for blog
Distressing is a carefully planned art of destruction.

Instant antique 2 for blog

For customers who prefer ‘new’ furniture that looks 200 years old, distressing techniques simulate pin holes, dents, scratches and worm holes!

BENDING BY HEAT :
bENDING BAMBOO BLOG
Bamboo (a very moist wood) is bent into a shape using heat and pressure .

FINISHING:

Finishing all wood furniture includes:
sanding, bleaching, sealing, staining, lacquering and polishing.

Artisan cabinetmakers perform each of these steps by hand. As the moisture of bleaches and stains raises the grain in wood—sanding and rubbing processes must be repeated many times to create finishes ranging from matte to high gloss until every finish meets their standard of excellence.

Mass-produced furniture is usually finished using assembly-line work-saving technologies.  These may include sprays that bleach, seal and stain and are not sanded after each procedure.

Side by side, finishing differences are apparent—although both may be good.

Stains are used to enhance the natural beauty of wood grain.
If a stain is dark, it must be translucent and blended into the grain
— as opposed to ‘sitting’ on the surface of the wood.

Opaque stains are often used to masque inferior grades of wood.
The beauty of wood grain, even dark woods like ebony and rosewood (jacaranda), should be visible through stain
.

Labels reading ‘mahogany finish’ or ‘cherry finish’ describe only the color of the stain; they do not identify the species of wood used to make the furniture.

Pat Breen: EYEWITNESS TO QUALITY

My next post: ARTISAN WOOD FURNITURE: Kittinger Furniture Company