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"It starts with knowledge..." is more than a motto to us- it's how we do business. Our first goal is to share some of what we have learned about our trade with you.
The first thing any woodworker learns the first time they step into a shop is the old adage: "Measure twice, cut once". It's no different with windows and doors. Depending on how you're machining your material, there might be more to measure than just your stock. Let's go over some of the most common methods, and how they differ.
- Saws: Including table saws, ripsaws, dimension saws, cutoff saws and re-saws to aid stock preparation.
- Jointer and Planer: For facing, edging, squaring and dimensioning of lineal stock.
- Molder: For profiling lineal stock and Square 4 Sides (S4S) of stock at higher production rate than traditional jointer and planer.
- Shaper: Shaper has a vertical spindle, with a fence to set the depth of the cut for profiling. With the addition of a sliding table, the shaper can also perform tenoning. Some shapers have a tilting spindle to achieve versatility and particular cuts that are not possible with a non-tilting spindle.
- Horizontal Drills and Mortisers: For the use in joinery of doors and some windows.
- Specialized Machines: This includes tenoners or CNC angular window machines which trade some flexibility for speed and precision for a specific manufacturing job, like making windows or doors. CNC routing machines are also common in higher volume production shops.
- Routers, Sanders, Drills and other handheld tools: Indispensable in any shop.
A knock-down system, utilized in a manufacturing process, is designed to perform all component machining functions for a specific window or door production line. As all perimeters of sash and frame parts are machined, protecting finish can be applied before the final assembly of the entire frame and sash. Many CNC angular window machines and CNC routing machines employ the knock-down system for processing.
Alternatively to a knock-down system, a shaper machine, for example, will require the frame and sash to go through secondary passes for outer perimeter cuts.
A window manufacturing facility can use a set of traditional machines such as tenoner and shaper, a knock-down system with CNC machines, or a combination of machines for various components. Each machine has its role, and production method and capacity should be planned and executed based on your product line, budget and volume projections. Once a production line is running, frequent review of a business aligning product offerings, projected sales volume and production capacity is a recipe for continual success.
There are all forms of tooling, designed to run on each machine type listed above. In certain cases, several of these machine types can run the same type of tool. Well designed and produced solid-carbide insert knife cutterhead systems can be run on all the machinery styles listed above and with very little to no sanding requirement before assembling.
Before selecting any method of machining and new equipment, there are a few initial considerations:
- What are styles of window, hardware and joinery method in your design?
- What are the specifications on the existing and planned machines that the tooling will be running on?
- What other productions will be shared with these machines?
- What are the wood and non-wood materials being machined?
- What is your budget and timeline for this particular project?
- What are the production volume, production growth and other product lines that will be run on these same machines – and perhaps the same tooling?
- What are the existing and potentially newly required production skills?
Making the Right Choices
For window and door production, joinery experience while using the proper machinery and tooling combination is paramount to meeting the design specifications and quality. During your initial business planning, investigate your product design as early as possible, and share its production requirements with your machinery and tooling contacts. Find a balance among your current and future needs, as well as your short term and long term budget. This will help shaping an optimal integrated strategy of your production flow with all existing and potential machines and tooling – a wise investment.
Check out the Quick Start section to get more ideas on setting up a window manufacturing facility.
Scantlings, Sash, and Frame
Before machining your material for sash and frame parts, the first step is preparing your stock. Lamination stock is a way to achieve a specific material thickness, insulation values, strength and quality for your window. It can also be done up for design features, for example, to differentiate exterior and interior look and feel by laminating different wood species together, or to increase insulation value with non wood materials. This Surface 4 Sides (S4S) processing is to standardize dimensions and pre-square the stock for window and door manufacturing. One of the most common scantling is a three layer laminated stock, meaning the stock is laminated together to a specific dimension with three layers of wood. It can be produced with a molder, or a combination of jointer and planer machines. Scantlings are oversized so that final dimensions will be achieved after it’s machined. Some may choose to purchase scantlings, instead of making them in-house.
There are three common jointing methods: Slot and Tenon, Doweling, and Mechanical Fixing System. In both knock-down and traditional processing flow, the length of stile and rail are machined (along with slot and tenon if designed). Profiling will be the next machining step. Holes for dowels or mechanical fixing will then be drilled before finishing and assembly stage. With traditional processing, a second machine passage will be needed for the outer perimeters.