Okay okay, so perhaps Solidworks® was never initially intended for stairs, but after carefully evaluating its qualities, it quickly demonstrated what a truly outstanding 3-dimensional layout tool it was and is. And whilst back then it was used primarily for 3D geometry, it’s now routinely used for flattening complex geometries, for 5-axis CNC, part lists, material analysis, costing and many other forms of exported data. It was a good choice then and it is now.
Our toolbox is much more comprehensive because we take the time to work smarter.
l’ll always love woodworking and frankly, it’s a fundamental part of my being. So when CAD projects slowed, it was time to re-hone my shop skills.
About 9 months ago, I was hired by a company making yurts and my task(s) were those of a joiner, primarily to build its doors, jambs and any specialty components, but it quickly became apparent that the shop’s needs required much more as its existing component designs were defined by previously available skillsets.
It was time for an upgrade.
Initial door leaves were simply tongue & groove plank “shed style” with zee bracing on the backs set into crude curved door frames/jambs requiring LOTS of countersunk plugged screws, excessive handwork and fitting time. The following issues were quickly identified:
Tongue and groove paneling was outsourced and poorly manufactured resulting in warped boards, excessive machine marks resulting in excessive sanding and wood filling of chipped faces.
Poorly maintained machines due to lack of training.
Poor in-house machining practises.
Excessive applied parts requiring additional processing & assembly time.
An inability to easily add glass lights (window).
An inability to hold machining tolerances to avoid hand fitting during final assembly
In any shop, the tablesaw is the primary tool and sadly, this one was in a terrible state. What had started life as a very accurate SCM panel saw devolved into something crude with many of its critical components discarded due to a lack of understanding of their application. Slowly, many of them were recovered and restored to enable this accurate and versatile tool.
An older Wadkin 4-sided planer had been used only for bulk processing of wet timber yurt frames. And much like the saw, a great deal of its potential had lain fallow due to a lack of machine familiarity. It was time to strip it down and take a closer look at its potential.
What we discovered was the remarkable quality of cut from this machine enabled us to consistently batch machine components better than ever before and with a huge reduction in final sanding.
Next, it was time to address the door design. The challenge being to:
Make better use of the machinery potential
Halve the number of parts by using accurate skilled machining techniques
Improve machining techniques to reduce hand fitting
Improve assembly & lamination techniques to reduce handwork
Improve design versatility to enable changes
Provide drawings and parts lists to better coordinate the shop floor
The drawings below are examples of some of the pages:
To do this however required some additional tooling:
A spindle moulder with stock feeder and misc. cutterheads
Some misc. hand tools
This relatively small investment resulted in the following:
Improved tongue & groove paneling could be easily made in-house.
Components were easily & accurately machined instead of the previous cruder technique of applying lots of extra pieces ($$) with glue and screws.
The other benefit is that we could maintain consistency nearly on par with a CNC, but without the cost as shown below:
Finally, even before jambs were assembled, all curved pieces were cut to size with parts mortised for hinges requiring only the plugging of some screw holes and final sanding. Then the door stiles and rails are glued together, trimmed to size, routed for hinges, followed by final sanding before oiling. All this with NO hand fitting.
When the oiling is done, the finished tongue & groove planking (or glass) is installed in the openings, with the door leaves installed in the frames (for the 1st time with no hand fitting).
It’s been an inspirational 9 months working with some shop mates whom I will miss very much sharing skills, fabrication strategies and some good all around banter. Thank you guys for all your support. Lastly, please be careful working with these older machines and keep up the good work. 🙂
Best always, R
We are Shoreline Parametrics
Because our drawings are truly an extension of the maker’s hand.
Sometimes, simpler is better. The key to this project’s success is maintaining its lines transitioning from the stair through to the wood paneling. The stair’s beautiful french limestone treads bedded on a concealed steel substructure give it an invisible solidity.
Experience and tools make the difference between success and failure.
Our tools begin with 40 years construction experience coupled with 20 years of SolidWorks® solid modeling.
Is it the tidied desk? Well perhaps that too. But the reality is that for families of different nationalities, their lives are always faced with the underlying consequence due to being “from away”. We shouldn’t underestimate how much this underlying sense impacts people’s lives.
We naturally take our nationality and all that comes with it for granted. But only when we have to truly dedicate our energies (and resources) to secure it does its preciousness become apparent. With heartfelt thanks to:
the business members who supported us in this massive move
to the community
and of course to our family
It’s been a long road.
We are Shoreline Parametrics
Proudly assisting bespoke manufacturers both in the US & UK
Being in the construction trade, for good and/or bad our designs are influenced by our gender.
The neo-classical stair in the video below was one we did a few years back complete with iron balustrade. All work was performed to closely follow the detailed orthogonal elevations as provided by a truly outstanding architectural firm. As always, we generate the model as per their details, then flatten any regions as required and finally, generate the necessary drawings for submission/fabrication.
It was in the balustrade flattening phase, that Pauline said to me:
“you can’t be serious! Don’t you see the problem?”
Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of our eyes
Okay, silliness aside, obviously the design was revised, but the point is that it took a woman’s perspective to see what had crossed many (assuming) male eyes prior and yet went unnoticed.
My business partner also happens to be my beloved wife and we are Shoreline Parametrics Ltd. Proudly assisting architects, builders and manufacturers in both the US and the UK for 20 years.
Sometimes when I describe our work and the modern tools we use, I see puzzled looks followed by something like “we didn’t need those things when I was a kid….”
Well perhaps you didn’t, but maybe others did. Because in this instance, SolidWorks®, 3D technologies and a very special team made a huge difference to our Shoreline Parametrics family.
From the CAT scan of a damaged shoulder joint, a SolidWorks® 3D model was generated enabling a bespoke bracket to be designed to fit the contours as well as setting the optimum angle for usability. This also enabled design of a surgical jig for cutting, drilling and finally, a physical 3D printed part enabling the physical checking of the machined parts for final fitting and all before even entering the theatre.
Why? Because this reduced the surgical time by nearly 70%, requiring the patient to only be anaesthetized for less than an hour instead of over three.
Naturally, the credit truly goes to the surgical team for their skill, compassion and ingenuity, for which our staff are eternally grateful as this staff member tirelessly contributes a great deal to our company.
But please don’t overlook the tools and the technologies which enabled this.
This is the original cast iron stair in a decommissioned lighthouse on an island off the rocky northern coast of Maine. The stair is virtually free standing and sadly due to excessive movement, the 100 year old metal castings and/or fasteners are most likely fatigued and brittle.
Working on rocky islands is always challenging as the limited access affects the logistics. In this instance, we’ve generated a study adopting the original design coupled with modern fabrication techniques using CNC plasma/water jet and robotic welding of standard components to produce sub-assemblies which are easy to transport and install:
I once worked in a cabinet shop which completely avoided working with metal. To my amazement, even the sharpening of hand tools was outsourced. I found this very difficult to accept because as an apprentice, sharpening my chisels, planes and scrapers was one of my FIRST lessons. When in any discussion involving metal, the classic response was to back away, palms up saying “oh no…we don’t DO metal here”.
*heh heh* Okay then guys…so this is your worst nightmare…..
I believe that to have a well-rounded knowledge of woodworking, one has to understand the basics of metalwork. Our modern designs require it, as does our tooling and hardware and this level of understanding doesn’t even scratch the surface for there are so many other materials, agents and finishes required to complete most contemporary projects.
For this particular project the client had chosen blackened steel. Needless to say however that the weight of a cabinet door alone wasn’t practical or safe, so we opted for blackening aluminum thereby reducing weight by 40%. The cabinet components are 1/8″ thick, skived and folded to give sharp edge details. And to keep all lines looking as crisp and straight as possible, we avoided welding (as heat causes distortion), opting instead for all components to be machine fastened.
If all this sounds like alot of work, it was. Being a woodworker, naturally I’d have preferred it was made in wood and sprayed with a Liquid Metal finish, but that wasn’t the criterea which the project called for and the end result was quite stunning.
The part drawings give an indication of the sheer number of bespoke parts required. Every part fitting and machine screwed together.
He was a Paediatric Surgeon (Actually spelled “Pediatric” in America). And unlike the doctors we hear about charging exorbitant amounts for their services, his patients were usually children from young parents often struggling and many receiving financial assistance. One day I told him how much I was charged for routine knee surgery, outraged he replied “do you know how much I charge for an esophageal fistula??? Eight hundred dollars!!” Needless to say that Dad was never in it for the money. He was on call all hours and with very few days off. He loved people, loved helping them and loved his work. In 1972, He was left paralyzed by a botched routine disc surgery requiring a year of recovery. This left him permanently disabled, with extreme nerve paraesthesia, but his driving love for helping others never stopped him from returning to practise surgery for 11 more years and retiring as an inspirational figure to the next generation of physicians.
He was an incredibly brave, strong and resilient man.
Dad developed heart problems years later. Congestive heart failure causes the afflicted to be starved of oxygen and as it advances, even pure oxygen doesn’t help as the patient struggles to breathe. Yes, the above part of the story is very sad, but the hospice care Dad received was incredibly uplifting. Every morning, the hospice nurse arrived and much like Dad had done years before – they worked tirelessly for another – only this time Dad was the recipient. My father’s bravery never wavered and when it was time, he was ready and he was at peace. It was the hospice that made the all difference and their gift to Dad was his final inspiration. Our family is so grateful for the peace and comfort that they gave to him. Dad did so much for so many and he is my inspiration, so this is for him:
This Saturday, 7 March 2020 come rain or shine, we’ll be participating in The Male Trail running, walking, marching, singing and shouting for Rowcroft Hospice, by raising whatever we can for those who need our love. Please support this event. Donation is easy by going to the link below:
Nobody wants to think about it, but young or old, we all face the music and like it or not, most times the final act is the one which is the most profound. Rowcroft Hospice in Devon is a truly inspirational organisation giving hope to struggling individuals and their families at the most difficult times in their lives and without a single charge to them. Yes that’s right, zero cost to these families, so that carers, patients and families can focus on what’s most important – that of love, dignity and respect without the distraction of financial burdens to come. To achieve this is a monumental task requiring our collective compassion:
So, trolling the web I saw this photo. “Hmm… unusual ” you may think… “interesting shaped pieces….gnarly hand….”
To me, the recognition was instantaneous because it’s unmistakably the hand of someone very special in my life, that of my former boss with whom I worked alongside for years. Together, we sawed, clamped, sprayed, installed and burned much midnight oil. This is the weathered hand of someone incredibly gifted, mechanically brilliant, strong and yet patient enough to stop and share his knowledge (and sometimes frustration) with me. As I grew older, near the end of our time together, we collectively discovered my skill sets while building our in-depth understanding of CAD, CNC and the developing technologies, often-times into the wee hours.
I could never thank this former boss for his time, patience and (yes even) friendship. He just wouldn’t have it. Perhaps this was because words are just too hollow and that a life chosen because of our love for woodworking requires sacrifice, a pursuit of something deeply personal which seems to transcend dialogue.
Anyway whatever your profession, perhaps you too were fortunate to have a boss so generous with both his/her time and confidence in your abilities. You are a product of his/her good deeds. Please, remember them and share your time liberally with that next eager apprentice. No doubt, it may not be easy and some days won’t be stunning, but with patience, the rewards will eventually exceed the risks. In his words, I can still hear him say “Ruf, no guts, no glory…”.
Shoreline Parametrics Ltd is a small highly skilled company created by Rufus Cooke assisting other companies in the custom woodworking industry. Having a strong understanding of 3D geometry has lent itself well to the stair industry and as notable builders and architects have recognized this resource, more diverse projects have evolved – including cupolas, domes, eyebrow dormers and architectural metalwork. Having a joiner’s background merged with the developing technologies of both CAD and CNC we can offer a wide array of services from:
3D CAD (using SolidWorks®)
Stair building and tangent hand railing
Cutting List Strategies based upon
extensive prior use of both Cabnetware® and Cabinetvision®
The photos below are just a few inspiring photos of some art nouveau pieces. We all know that nature abhors straight lines. This integration of nature with thoughtful design produces glorious working sculptures.
At Shoreline Parametrics, we pride ourselves on our abilities to work with complex elements. How can we assist you today?