AWFS 2017
(Part 1 of 2: Click here for Part 2)

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A Workshop Of Our Own

It's fitting that our first topic here is about a desperately needed, fundamental change in the woodworking industry. WOO is a group of women in Baltimore's Woodberry neighborhood who have come together to renovate an old mill building. And inside it, they have created workshop space for five professional woodworkers who are running full-time businesses in a collaborative environment. They also offer classes and part-time memberships to women and gender non-conforming furniture makers. The core members each have their own dedicated work area with a workbench and cabinet (and whatever else they want to add), as well as full-time access to a 6000 square foot facility with shared work areas and a machine room. The building has a functional loading dock for easy delivery of materials, and a large outdoor area for things such as steam bending and angle grinding. Shown at right is Leviathan, a tambour desk by WOO founder Sarah Marriage (click to enlarge).



Woodshops just stepping into the cyber world might enjoy a visit with the young and very energetic team that we met at a booth called The company's software organizes all aspects of a business from bids to office tasks, receivables, reports, customer service, buying and inventory, and personnel - all for a pretty reasonable set monthly fee. It works with Quickbooks, and it also processes credit card payments to the woodshop and earns a percentage of the fees generated by that. Now it has added a new element, 3D design, which among other things allows a shop to integrate Allmoxy with Cabinet Vision (CV) and other design systems. It can also send data to saw/machine/software.


ArtCam Standard, Updates for 2018

Autodesk says that it "makes software for people who make things". For woodworkers, ArtCAM® Standard's simple interface and easy to use tools allow people to produce high quality decorative woodwork. One can design directly in the software, or choose from a clip art library, or import images. Designs can be edited with a range of tools. And the new ArtCAM 2018 enhances those tools to help make designing even easier. For example, Designers can now create vector shadows from reliefs, which allows them to produce 2D designs that look 3D. And when working with carved reliefs, the company has included more features to work in real-time, which allows a woodworker to instantly see the effects of changes.


Blum - Glideware Slides

Among the newest ideas from Blum are Aventos HK-XS (a smaller, cost-effective lift system for shallow wall cabinets); Servo-drive for Aventos (which opens cabinet doors with just a light touch); LegraBox (a premium metal drawer system); Tandem plus Blumotion (concealed full-extension runners); and Compact Blumotion, which is a face frame hinge with soft closing action built in. At the booth, we were also able to touch and see Blum's adaptions of Rev-A-Shelf's Glideware (shown at right) in action. This is a heavy-duty system that features hooks for cast iron and steel cookware, and there are versions available that are suited to shop and garage storage, closets, and utility cabinets (mops and brooms). The hooks can be placed anywhere along the run and instantly adjusted. Blum also offers a Lazy Susan version for storing cookware in a corner cupboard. There's even an outdoor version for barbecue utensils.


Brown Wood, Inc.

Designs of Distinction is a product line of thousands of turned and carved decorative wood components, and it comes from a company that has been supplying parts to woodshops since 1927. The firm has facilities in Lincolnwood, just outside Chicago, as well as in Maine, Ohio, and Tennessee. This year at AWFS, Brown Wood showed five new collections that have been added to its downloadable catalog: Industrial combines the look of weathered wood with the strength of raw steel; Mid-Century includes columns and bun feet for both furniture and cabinetry; Modern Farmhouse includes styles that feature spiral ropes, delicate reeds and carved details; Pacific Rim features bamboo styled columns and half rounds, as well as sleek columns that work in today's more urban and transitional style homesand; and Urban, which is sleek, contemporary, embodies the clean styles of Metropolitan design, and is made from stainless steel, iron and brushed aluminum.


Cerritos College Teaching CNC, Woodworking

It was good to see so much focus on education at AWFS. As the basic skills required to be a woodworker evolve from hand tools and table saw to robotics and virtual monitoring, the best way for the industry to attract and keep competent new people is through knowledge and training. Cerritos College is a public comprehensive community college located in Norwalk, California and it has a woodworking department. that offers certificate and two-year AA degree programs in cabinetmaking, furniture building, general woodworking and CNC woodworking. Instructors work out of a 27,000 square-foot facility, where over 100 stationary and portable woodworking machines are available.



One of the more interesting exhibits at the Fair was an installation by Calvi Brambilla which highlighted some applications of CLEAF's surfaces for the furniture and interior design industries. It had four elements that represented the color tones of The Four Elements, the 2017 exhibition concept. Cleaf is an Italian company "producing innovative surfaces and solutions for the furniture and interior design industries, including Melamine faced panels, laminates and edges exclusively manufactured at production sites in Brianza and installed worldwide by architects and companies to build inspirational spaces for living and working".


Element Designs

Element Designs, located in Charlotte, NC, is the leading manufacturer of custom aluminum frame glass doors in North America, including custom cabinet doors. At AWFS, the company showed several new inserts and finishes that were added to its contemporary product lines this year. Among them are leather inserts from EcoDomo, and reflective bronze glass panels. The latter is also available as a solid glass door option. And the company's newest matte black finish, called Onyx, is in high demand as the industry continues to see a growing trend toward matte finishes. Element also offers Parapan® solid surface doors. This is a premium high gloss product available in nineteen vibrant colors, and its integrated finger-pulls help create sleek, contemporary clean lines. The doors and drawer fronts are custom manufactured to 1/16" tolerances, and have a two-week lead time with no minimum order quantities.


EZE Lap's Tougher Toucher-Uppers

A couple of new pocket sharpeners have been added to the EZE-Lap catalog. The company is based in Carson City, Nevada, about half a day's drive northwest of AWFS's location in Las Vegas. In addition to the standard diamond stones shown at right, which run from 1200 to 150 grit, the new LD1 (left) has a silver anodized aluminum handle and super fine and medium surfaces. The new LD2 sports a gold anodized handle and fine and coarse surfaces. Both tools work well on carbide saw blades and router bits, so they have a less flexible and sturdier body than the standard stones to accommodate the extra pressure that tungsten requires. They are available from retailers such as Optics Planet and Amazon.


Fuji Spray has a New Compressor Gun

At the Fuji Spray booth one of the hot topics was the new MPX-30, a new mid-pressure spray gun that is designed to coincide with a movement among finishers away from high pressure and HVLP toward reduced pressure (RP). It works with a shop's standard air compressor, rather than requiring a turbine, and it comes in either gravity feed or siphon models. A high pressure regulator gauge is included, and the recommended operating pressure is 13.8 CFM at 36 psi. The MPX-30 will handle solvent-based coatings, low VOC colors or clearcoat, and the stainless steel passages are suitable for water-borne coatings, too. Fuji Industrial Spray Equipment Ltd is based in Toronto and has been designing and building HVLP systems since 1986.


Grass's New Undermount Full Extension Slide

Beyond its really cool name, Maxcess is also a cool product. This is an economical, full access, soft-close, undermount slide that was designed for both face frame and frameless cabinetry. The Maxcess easily fits conventional drawer construction, handling material thicknesses ranging from 1/2" to 5/8". A new liquid damper, created with Germany technology, is integrated into the slide and provides a continuous, smooth easy-close. The result is a full view inside, with the smallest extension loss in the industry. It features an ample load capacity of 75 pounds (which meets or exceeds ANSI/BHMA grade 1 testing standards), and allows the cabinet shop to maximize drawer height: the Maxcess requires minimal top and bottom clearances.


Grex - The Green Guys Have Done It Again

The new P650LX pin nailer from Grex is the latest addition to the California company's comprehensive line of 23-Ga. headless pinners. It was designed to accommodate smaller compressors, add more convenience and safety, and work with long headless pins (2") and more hardwood applications. It combines a larger motor with an Auto Lock-Out feature and the new, patent pending, One-Touch Over-Ride. The Auto Lock-Out was added to prevent dry-firing and to assist in difficult, more critical jobs such as overhead crown molding. It locks the nailer with approximately 10 pins remaining in the magazine. High up on a ladder fastening overhead, with a single touch you can press the over-ride button and safely use the remaining pins. A high tolerance, precision machined, hardened steel driver, Posit-Lock™ nose cover (reduces jams to a minimum) and nose guide assembly aligns and seats the headless pin for optimal performance.


The Installation Buddy

This is one of the handiest gizmos we saw in Vegas. It's a pneumatically operated arm that can replace your lazy brother-in-law on the jobsite. This clever hoist can hold uppers in place while you install them. It's never late for work, never gets sick and never takes a smoke break. Made in the USA, it's lightweight aluminum construction so it only weighs 60 lbs - making it easy to carry to the jobsite (although you'll also have to tote in some removable counter weights at 35 lbs apiece). The Buddy's maximum reach is an impressive 94", and the easy starting height adjusts without pulling a pin. It has 10" pneumatic wheels with non-marring casters and a swivel platform that rotates easily through confined spaces. There are a couple of very, very short videos on the website that immediately explain what it does. No installer should be without one...


Kerfkore Adds a Balsa Core

If you like curves, you'll love Kerfkore. The company makes bendable substrates and panels that follow an arc or a radius. Days before AWFS, the company sent out a press release about adding Balsakore products to its catalog. This is a lightweight core material made from balsa, with no added formaldehyde. The tree is plantation grown and can be harvested in 6 to 7 years. Balsa is five times lighter than traditional particleboard and fiberboard core materials, and three times lighter than lite core plywood materials. Balsakore products can be used with both cold and hot press laminating processes, at normal operating pressure. The core also provides the strength to add fasteners, hinges and other types of hardware. The edge will machine smoothly and is suitable for use with automatic hot melt edge banders. This is an environmentally friendly product that comes from a rapidly renewable resource.


Klingspor's Table Saw Sander

Klingspor sells a handy little thirty dollar device made by Freud, called the 10" Calibration & Sanding Disk. Designed primarily as a way to fine-tune a table saw, it can also turn the saw into a sanding machine. In its new products offerings, Klingspor's Woodworking Shop now offers a pressure sensitive hook and loop adaptor (item VC10300) that sticks to the Freud disk and lets a woodworker attach one of five new sanding disks in 60, 80, 120, 150 and 220 grits. The 3" center hole allows grit changes without removing the device from the table saw: just pull off the previous grit and apply the next one. Being able to re-use the abrasives saves time and money, and the pre-cut 3" center hole also accommodates up to a 2-3/4" stabilizer. There is a catalog option to buy a kit that includes the metal and PSA discs, and five abrasives (shown at right) for less than $50.


Koch Woodcarving's Sharpening System

Kurt Koch GmbH manufactures grinding pastes in Eulenbis. That's a small town of about 500 souls in western Germany's Rhineland, near the border with France, and it dates back to 1380. The company has developed a benchtop sharpening system that is now being distributed through Woodcraft in the US. The HT2000 sharpener is simple to use, and unbelievably fast. It comes with four special composite wheels, two hard ones (red and blue) for grinding, and two soft ones (yellow and green) for honing. There are also two specially formulated abrasive pastes, green for grinding and blue for honing.


Lignomat's Newest, Inexpensive Mini Meter

We stopped by the Lignomat booth and chatted with Grete Heimerdinger, co-owner and vice president of sales and marketing. She told us that the company introduced the mini-Ligno MD and M/DC as low-price alternatives that turners, flooring installers and hobbyists like. The measuring range of 6% to 25% is still wide enough to cover all applications from casework to kilns, and the meters deliver Lignomat quality at very low prices. Both MD models are built to the same high quality standard as all other mini-Lignos, and come with the same 2-year warranty. They are fast and easy - just push the pins into the wood and the moisture content is instantly indicated in 1% increments. Integral pins can measure up to 7/16″ deep. For thicker wood, make a fresh cut and measure the end grain for core readings. And if that's not an option, the MD/C has a connector for a depth electrode.


Marcon Adjustable Table Replaces Workbench

Imagine having a workbench that would move up or down a few inches, or even a couple of feet, whenever a task called for it. The Easy Lift Assembly Table from Marcon Woodworking does exactly that. It eliminates bending during machining and assembly, and saves time, too. The height adjusts from 8" to 42", so a work in progress or a stack of panels can be moved into place from a pallet jack and then raised to working height. The hydraulic lift mechanism runs on standard 110-Volt household current. The table is solid steel, and there are pneumatic and electric hook-ups on both ends. It can support either one or two tons, depending on the model.


Mid-Coast Mfg. & Supply/Panel Buddies

Panel Buddies are foam spacers for cabinet and passage doors that have floating panels, and they have been around for a long time. What we saw for the first time at AWFS was Mid-Coast's impressive machine, called the Auto Inserter, that the company says is the fastest, most efficient panel spacer insertion machine on the market. It uses bulk rolls of Panel Buddies and cuts and inserts them into the bottom of the groove as fast as an operator can pick up stiles and rails from a cart. It has a small footprint, so it can be placed just about anywhere, and it runs $7,500 (financing is available). There's a video of it in action here.


Nortec - Wetter Wood

Wisconsin-based Nortec specializes in humidification and evaporative cooling, so the company deals with many furniture, cabinetry, and flooring manufacturers that encounter issued caused by dry air - warping, shrinkage and other dimensional problems with painting, finishing and gluing, plus a variety of static electricity issues. All of these can affect product quality, part reject rates, throughput speeds, run times and overtime, which all cut into profits. Nortec's latest innovation is the GS Series Condensing High Efficiency Humidifier, which was developed as a response to ever more expensive electrical power. It uses natural gas, and it comes in both a standard and a Low-Emissions (NX) model, which was created to meet California’s emission regulations.


Manual Movers from Outwater Plastics

With more than 65,000 catalog items, it's no surprise that Outwater has a constant stream of new offerings. Among the innovative items that caught our eye were the Super Mover and the Hudson Hauler, which "simplify moving everything from heavy equipment to shelving units". They roll in any direction and have a very low profile, so they are ideal for tasks such as moving heavy casework from a workbench to a spray booth. The Super Mover (top) is 5-3/4" square and just 1-3/8" thick, and it has four ball bearing 'wheels'. It can handle a 500 lb load and at showtime ran $330 for four in a tote bag. The heavy duty Hauler (bottom) is about 1-1/2" tall and can carry up to 2,400 lbs! A set of four in a hard-sided case costs $655. Both are available as a single unit, too. A special pry bar is also listed in the catalog, and it jimmies loads high enough to slide the devices underneath.


OVVO Snap-Together Connectors for KD, RTA

Our editor, John, came over from Ireland 37 years ago, so we sent him to the OVVO booth. The company is based in Dundalk, an hour north of Dublin. OVVO's innovative, snap-together connectors are incredibly simple to mill the pockets and install, and they have a subtle sloped ridge in the design that draws parts firmly together. Available in permanent and knock-down profiles, there are connectors for a wide range of board thicknesses and materials, and all work without glue, tools or screws. They are currently being widely used in Europe for RTA furniture, casework assembly and millwork frames, and won the “Best of the Best” award at Interzum in May. They can be installed on a CNC, with a designated floor machine, or with a special hand tool. And when John finally left the booth, he spoke with an Irish accent for the rest of the day.


Colorado Training for HS and College Woodworkers

In the education area of AWFS, we visited with two recent graduates of Peyton School District's Career Technical Facility. The Colorado-based Woods Manufacturing Program was started in 2015 and is not a shop class, but a program that teaches students cutting edge skills that are needed in the industry. Peyton is a rural school located 20 minutes east of Colorado Springs, and the program's director is Dean Mattson, the 2013 recipient of WMIA's Wooden Globe award for education. Students will be able to continue their training in advanced CNC education at The MILL, a 46,600 square foot Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab that will open its doors this fall. The MILL is a partnership between Peyton and the Widefield school district in Colorado Springs, and it focuses on lean manufacturing. So far, 38 industry partners have provided more than 230 machines, with one of the programs most generous sponsors being Stiles Machinery.


PD&F - A Plastics Magazine That Woodworkers Might Like

In the media room at the show, we met the affable and knowledgeable David Whelan, editor and publisher of Plastics Distributor & Fabricator. It seems much of the machinery that has been developed in the wood industry - especially for panel processing and milling moldings - can transfer rather well to his field. So, it was no great surprise to see the AXYZ Trident hybrid CNC gracing the cover of his current issue (at right). For woodshops that either dabble daintily or delve deeply into plastics, PD&F is an inexpensive and well-informed way to keep up with cross-over technologies: subscriptions within the United States and Canada are free to qualified individuals, and an overseas annual sub is only $50. Woodshops that are looking for creative ways to keep the CNC running (and paying for itself) might want to take a look at milling plastics for the ad specialty or awards and trophies markets, or making plastic components for other industries. These shops will also gain ground by taking a look at PD&F: for example, in the August issue there is a comprehensive Buyer's Guide for plastics that lists five pages of suppliers.


RESET - A Power Plant in a Shipping Container!

Would you like to turn wood waste into electricity and heat?
RESET is an innovative Italian company with a PA office that builds generators to harvest energy from renewable sources. It designs, assembles, installs and maintains bioliquid and biomass combined heat and power (CHP) systems. In Las Vegas, RESET introduced microgenerators called “syngaSmart”. These are compact and cost-optimized biomass power generation systems, enclosed within a standard 20-foot shipping container. The system is fully automated and complete: from a biomass hopper to a gasifier, cyclone and gas filtering, engine, generator and electrical output control – all packed into the shipping container. It is a total-system-in-a box - drop it off the truck and go, with no on-site construction required. These CHP generators are normally installed close to an already operative thermal generating unit, and provide thermal power either in parallel or a stand-alone mode. They can be installed in open air environment as the containers are acoustically insulated, and they require no construction while simplifying bureaucracy.


SENCO's Plastic Nails and Staples

We had seen press releases over the last few months about Senco's new composite fasteners, and finally saw them in person at the Hafele booth. This is a line of finish nails and staples that are manufactured with a blend of polymer resin and fiberglass. They can be machined without damaging router bits or saw blades, and Raptor has been making a similar product for some years. The new Senco version can be cut, sanded, or stained as desired. It's ideal for CNC fixturing because it doesn't have to be removed to avoid damaging equipment. And it's rust-proof, paintable and provides a strong hold, so it's also perfect for lumber tagging at sawmills and even in retail stores and lumberyards: there is no need to remove the fastener prior to processing, and it has long-term resistance to chemicals, sunlight, and moisture. Shown at right is the 15 Gauge, 1" nail. There are other lengths in both 15 and 18 Ga., plus two 16 Ga. and three 20 Ga. staples. Plus, there are five correlating nailguns that are specifically designed for composite fasteners.


SICAM 2017 Still Has No American Exhibitors!

The ninth edition of SICAM, the international exhibition of components, accessories and semi-finished products for the furniture industry, will be held at Pordenone, Italy, from October 10 through 13. The location is less than an hour's drive northwest of Venice, near the Austrian border. Even though SICAM was present at AWFS, unfortunately not a single U.S. designer or builder has booked a booth so far at the European venue. However, more than 500 of their competitors from nineteen European countries and Argentina, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates will be there. (The exhibitor list is here.) Managers, marketing experts, designers and builders from more than 7,300 furniture-related companies around the world - in fact, from 102 different countries - attended last year's event, discovering and also shaping trends in the global furniture industry.



This had to be the most fun booth at the fair. It's a grown-up version of elementary school art classes, but the purpose behind it is quite serious. This is your next generation pattern maker and additive technology all rolled up into one creative solution. The company teaches people how to make molds in urethane rubbers, plastics, silicone, foam, epoxies and more. Among the offerings is a two-day seminar on mold making and casting with slides, videos and hands-on demos that create an easy-to-understand format. Attendees are introduced to a whole new world of materials possibilities. And Smooth-On also sells all the supplies you'll ever need. Among the newest products are starter kits (shown), that offer a great way to learn the basics of different moldmaking, casting, lifecasting, and skin effect processes.


SuperMax 16-32

One of the most interesting machines we saw in Vegas is going to be very appealing to serious hobbyists and small pro shops. SuperMax Tools introduced its new 16-32 drum sander (Model 71632) that can handle door panels and other assemblies up to 32" wide in two passes. As it's open-ended, there are no length restrictions so its ideal for moldings and trim, too. What's new here is a patented Quick Adjustment Lever, which allows height adjustments from zero to three inches with one pull, rather than having to turn the crank 48 times; a digital read-out that helps maintain consistent thickness all the way through a set of kitchen doors or other large projects; and a very clever new dust port that has turbo vents built in. They increase the airflow by 15% without using extra electricity. It also comes with a stand, and woodshops can order it now at the promo price of $1,199 (list is $1,800). But it's so new, it won't actually ship until this fall. SuperMax Tools is located in St. Paul, MN.


Tallwood Has Eyes on Some Tall Wood...

In the education section of AWFS, we met folks from the Tallwood Design Institute, a project being run by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. It is housed at the OSU College of Forestry, and is a collaboration with the OSU College of Engineering and University of Oregon College of Design. This is a one-of-a-kind program that includes the top forestry, wood products and sustainable design programs in the U.S. The idea is to focus on development of innovative wood products and building components that can be produced in Oregon from Western timber. And it has already begun development of a first-of-its-kind education program in mass timber manufacturing, which includes CAD and CAM programming plusinstruction on jobsite installation and erection of mass timber components.


Tiger-Vac's Wood Flour Units

The company has offices in Florida and Quebec and provides a wide array of specialty vacuum. Among the units on display at the show was the DutyVac®, which was designed for recovering combustible and conductive dust. It features four HEPA filters. Tiger-Vac offers about a dozen industrial-grade machines for wood chips and sawdust, and two models (shown) that are specifically for wood flour combustibles - the 4D-200L EX and the C-10EX 200L.


Universal Robots are Affordable and Fast

The phrase "can you give me a hand here" took on a whole new meaning at the Universal Robots booth. You don't just get a hand, you get a whole arm - and there are now three to choose from. They are all highly flexible and lightweight 6-axis arms. The collaborative robots, or 'cobots', are categorized by payload limits, reach, weight and footprint. The newest little guy on the right (UR3) has a 19.7" working radius and can handle 6.6 lbs. The one in the middle (UR5) reaches to 33.5" and hefts up to 11 lbs, and the big one on the right (UR10) reaches 51.2" and lifts up to 22 lbs. The UR3 works at task such as assembly, polish, glue, and screw applications. The UR5 automates repetitive and dangerous tasks such as picking, placing and testing. And the UR10 will do packaging, palletizing, assembly and pick and place chores. Operators with no programming experience can quickly set up and operate these cobots with intuitive, 3D visualization. Average payback on the investment is just 195 days!


Western Dovetail adds Doors and Hardware

For more than fifteen years, Max Hunter and his team at have lived the American dream, building a family-owned business with a reputation for integrity, quality and reliability. The business rebounded from a serious hiccup a couple of years ago: in August 2014, the south Napa earthquake caused their workshop to be deemed unsafe, and they had to pack up and move virtually overnight. But they never missed a beat, setting up temporary facilities with the help of friends, and making a heroic effort to avoid letting their customers down. The new facility is located on Mare Island, a former Navy Base in Northern California. After the move, the company came back stronger than ever, and has now added doors and decorative hardware to the custom drawer menu. It was a pleasure to see a beaming Max and his crew welcoming woodworkers in their traditional storefront booth at AWFS, and to hear that things are going well.


Visionary New Products from WMIA Members

Since 1978, the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) has represented importers and distributors of machinery and ancillary equipment in North America. At AWFS in Las Vegas, five of its member companies were named Visionary New Product Award winners. They were C.R. Onsrud, which introduced real-time monitoring for CNC machinery with Osync; the LT-2D3D laser templater from Laser Products Industries, which measures an area and then exports directly to design applications; the BrillianceCut Circular Saw Blade from Leitz Tooling Systems (shown at right); Rev-a-Shelf's new Snap Panel by Tresco Lighting; and SCM Group's Lean Robot Cell 4.0. This latter was a demonstration of taking Industry 4.0 concepts and putting them to practical use. The system is completely automated, served by two anthropomorphic (the word means ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things) robots, and requires only one operator.


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