HeartWood Fine Windows and Doors Manufacturing Process
What "process" means to us
A question we are commonly asked is "what sets you apart from your competitors?"
This is a very valid question, and one we can proudly answer with a degree of
certainty. It's all about our "process".
It is widely known that in manufacturing, quality and value are built by
developing and refining a consistent, repeatable process. The problem with a
customized business such as ours: there are seemingly no consistencies. Our
reputation is built around being flexible, accommodating customers who know
and expect that we will sacrifice conformity in order to flawlessly marry
engineering with creative design. Commercial manufacturers simply cannot
stretch that far. After all, that is why they have come to us!
In most cases what results is that custom shops usually abandon the idea of a
conventional manufacturing process, and simply give projects to highly skilled
individual craftsmen to carry out the task, from beginning to end. There is
nothing inherently wrong with this method; it has been done this way for centuries.
But by its very nature, it ensures that no two products will ever be exactly the
same. We believe this is fine and even quite desirable for a piece of custom
furniture or a painting. But given our customers' reasonable expectations of
how windows and doors must function and perform, the method is simply not
good enough for HeartWood standards.
HeartWood's approach to manufacturing is to actually divide each larger process
into numerous sub processes (standard operating procedures) for all stages
of millwork, even the very smallest. If we are asked to design a product that
triggers a deviation from one of these SOP's, we step back and analyze how we
can make the request fit. Sometimes we cannot, without compromising quality
standards or forcing large cost increases. But if we believe we can accomplish
what it being requested, a new SOP is completely documented and logged.
This "pixelization of process" allows us to be not only extremely flexible,
but extremely consistent. Thus, our craftsmen are able to accomplish a
wide variety of tasks without diminishing quality or consistency. While
this process takes extreme discipline, ultimately it makes HeartWood's
manufacturing extremely efficient, removing cost and adding quality.
Wood Selection and Milling
HeartWood products start with the finest materials available. Our recommended wood,
unless otherwise specified, is Honduran Mahogany
(swietenia macrophylla), the superlative species for external applications known
for its natural beauty, stability, and resistance to decay. Many other
fine species such as Spanish Cedar, Douglas Fir, Larch, Walnut, White Oak,
Walnut, and Black Cherry are also used, depending on the demands of the project
and desires of the customer.
Each piece of slab lumber is hand selected for grade and tested for proper moisture content. Moisture content is critical to ensure a stable and lasting product that won't warp, twist, shrink or swell beyond acceptable tolerances.
Each piece is then "hand faced", meaning that any natural curve or twist is
painstakingly removed by hand, 1/16" at a time, prior to any further processing
of the lumber. This is a step that even the finest manufacturers skip because of
the time it takes, but it is one of the keys to HeartWood's quality. Once the
board is faced (flat, square, and straight on all sides), it is again examined
for defects to be sure it meets HeartWood's high quality standards.
At this point, the lumber is machined to begin shaping the various components of the windows or doors. Each piece of equipment has been selected from around the world as "best in class", meaning no compromises have been made in assuring quality and precision.
Our process utilizes matched insert tooling between key pieces of equipment.
"Matched" means that tooling heads are interchangeable between equipment to
ensure complete consistency in profiles and cuts; whether straight or curved,
whether 1 piece or 100. "Insert tooling" means that all knives are computer
matched and cut so that there are zero tolerance deviations. Our knives are
never re-ground, as this creates tolerance issues that affect both the
aesthetics and ultimate quality of the product. While this policy may
seem overly fastidious, and other manufacturers don't go to the bother,
it allows for efficiency in other areas, simply because our deficiencies
and scrap are kept so low. And although the added expense in equipment and
tooling is considerably higher than our competitors, the net result is a
savings in material and labor. It also helps to ensure on-time delivery, another
element in which we will not compromise.
All HeartWood joinery utilizes blind mortise and tenon joints. Again, this is
more time consuming and utilizes more material than the common dowelled joints used by
most manufacturers. However, it is widely recognized that mortise and tenon joints are
far stronger, and will last much longer than dowels. This is easy to understand because
there is up to 10 times more surface area for glue to hold the joint together. This
factor is extremely important, because stress on any window or door is greatest where
stile and rail meet - panels and glass do not substantially add to the structural strength.
Critical machining of our windows and doors is done on a large CNC
(computer numerically controlled) station, employing 30 robotically changed
tools that perform various operations. CNC equipment is not employed to increase
manufacturing speed, a common misconception. Its primary benefits are
precision, design flexibility, and repeatability.
Our CNC's precision far exceeds any industry standards as it can machine parts to an
accuracy of 1/1000th of an inch. Most custom shops can achieve a tolerance of
1/16" at best . Its cutting flexibility allows us to cut
shapes and unique pieces that conventional tooling cannot do, permitting
greater versatility in your project's design. Given that all jobs, regardless of size,
are computer programmed, we can at any time repeat what has been done before to assure
100% consistency, if product is damaged or the project is expanded.
Essential to the manufacturing process is the careful machining for hardware. We can
apply hardware from practically any manufacturer of your choosing, but it is extremely
important that hardware is appropriately suited and consistently applied on all products.
Again, we utilize our CNC equipment to provide the machining for almost all hardware,
assuring consistency and trouble-free operation.
Most of our glass is cut, insulated and assembled at our factory. Critical glazing patterns
are created by the same computer programming that creates the matching wood components,
so they can be manufactured concurrently. This saves time and assures error-free glazing
assembly. And unlike most manufactures who offer either Simulated Divided Lites (SDL) or
True Divided Lights (TDL), we offer both, so that you can choose what best fits your design
Experienced craftsman are essential
While state-of-the-art equipment and computerized detailing help build our unique processes,
it is our dedicated, experienced craftsmen make HeartWood the unsurpassed product that
it is. All final fitting and assembly is done by hand. Every single piece of wood is
meticulously hand-sanded. Every piece of wood, glass, hardware, and trim is carefully
inspected and applied by hand. No compromises are allowed, and only the experience and
careful eye of the craftsman can allow the product to take its final form.
We often encourage our senior craftsmen to converse with customers so they can understand
elements that are important to meeting their demands. If you visit us, which we also encourage,
you may be surprised at the openness and willingness of our craftsmen to discuss what they
are currently working on, and and help formulate and resolve your unique issues.
We hope you do visit, and experience the quality that is uniquely HeartWood.
To arrange a tour, feel free to Contact us.