Manufacturing moulding – the overall process

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  • September 7, 2010

We thought it would be a good idea to utilize this issue and share with our readers the general process of how moulding is manufactured at our facility. Sure, you order and use the stuff all the time, but how does it come to be? We are sure you will find and agree that this certainly is an intricate and dedicated process. Basically, lumber arrives at the mill in boards of various thicknesses (ie: 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4, etc.), which are then ripped down with a ripsaw to be just a little bigger than what is needed for the actual dimensions of the pattern scheduled for milling. Note: an extra 1/8″ on each of the 4 sides is needed so a nice, smooth finish will be the end result. Large, cylindrical cutter heads are positioned in the moulding machine and hold pieces of steel with the specified pattern shape cut into it (knives). The moulder has the capability to have pattern knives set at the top, bottom, and each of the sides (6 knives per pattern to be exact – 2 on the top, 2 on the bottom, and one on each side). The prepped lumber is then run through the moulder, which is then converted into a piece of moulding within one pass through the machine. As the piece of wood is fed into the moulder, each of the knives cuts the shape in sequence to produce the finalized shape. The following are the elements involved for creating successful patterns: 1) quality lumber, 2) carefully designed knives, 3) precise positioning of the cutter heads holding the knives – at Foster we measure and maintain tolerance of 5000ths of an inch (equivalent of 1-2 sheets of copy paper!). The reason for maintaining such high tolerance is to ensure the profiles consistently match up from one run to the next, 4) very stable and controlled hold on the lumber as it passes through the moulder – if the “hold-down” is too loose, the wood will bounce around creating defects, and if held too tightly, the lumber will bind up in the machine as it cannot proceed & pass through with ease (there is a very fine balance between too little and too much pressure), 5) a professionally trained eye – as moulding comes out of the machine, we look at every piece to make sure it is usable, as wood does unpredictable things after it is machined (ie: straight pieces can become crooked, defects under the surface become exposed, the grain may tear out, etc.). Sigh…and there you have it. As mentioned, this is a general overview of what goes into every lineal foot of moulding you order and use. With that said, each step can be broken down further into much greater detail – we can make plans to explore these particular steps in following newsletter issues. In closing, we hope you enjoyed learning a little something about our overall daily process here at Foster Planing Mill.

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