Moulding Newsletter September 2010

  • 0
  • July 9, 2015

Manufacturing Moulding – The Overall Process

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.

Profile With dimensions 1-3/4 x 2-3/4, this rounded profile has a grand, traditional style and can be found on p. 28 of our catalog.

For those who are a bit rough around the edges when it comes to sanding (by the way this step can make or break the end quality of the moulding product), we called in a professional to share some valuable pointers.

Pete from Absolute Framemakers in Los Angeles, CA shared that there are different sanding techniques for different finishes.

Klingspor brand sandpaper is his weapon of choice, and he uses a palm sander to achieve the look and feel he is after. He suggests starting with a 100 grit and sanding to about 220 for most frames, and we thank him kindly for sharing the following specifics:

– if working with a clear wax, then take the grit up to 320 – this gives it a nice quality finish, which also looks glossy and feels ultra smooth. Pre-stained conditioners, along with water-based stains and paints will more than likely raise the grain, so once the grain is raised, then sand using 400 grit, then apply the stain

spotlight: #812 & professional sanding tips

When using laquer or wax, do not sand inbetween stains or between the stain and top coat. Example: use 220 grit, apply pre-stained conditioner, then use 400 grit, stain, then apply top coat.

– When using a palm sander on picture frame moulding, be careful on the lip of the frame, as the slightest wrong move or too much pressure can cause curvature.

Would you like your invoices & statements emailed?

Options are nice, and we continue striving towards opportunities that will give our customers just that.

Our order system now provides the option for our customers to receive their invoices and statements via email.

So, if this option sounds like it is right up your alley, then jump on-board and let us know the date you would like to begin receiving your e-invoices and e-statements. Just email us at with your company name and the date you would like the new online cycle to begin.

Please note that e-invoices have a slightly different look than the forms mailed out, while e-statements look exactly the same.

Our mailing address is:

Foster Planing Mill
1258 W. 58th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Subscribe to our newsletter