Blades’ slices through panels with two Striebig saws
A highly successful Kent-based joinery business that specialises in carrying out work for some of London’s most affluent residents has bought two vertical panel saws to boost production after moving into larger premises. Blades was formed by joiners Paul Wilcox and Shane Armstrong in 1996 to carry out work for wealthy property owners in London, mainly in the Kensington and Chelsea areas.
Its two new Striebig Compact 5207 models are used chiefly to size MDF panels. The pieces are then either stained, sprayed or spray lacquered, or covered with leather, suede or a spray-on suede finish, as specified. As well as a standard blade the saws were supplied with a scoring blade for use with veneered MDF panels and 13mm thick Corian used as kitchen worktops.
The Compact is the entry level model of the Striebig range. The 5207 version has a cutting range of 4600mm x 2070mm and a cutting depth of 60mm. It features as standard powerful TRK dust extraction, with a dust limit value below 1mg/m3, 17 panel support and transport rollers, adjustable blade penetration, and a powerful 3.9 kW motor.
Among the optional extras available are a digital measuring system, an angle cutting unit, a strip cutting gauge and a grooving accessory for composite panels. The saws, together with Al-Ko extraction units, were supplied by Striebig’s UK distributor, T.M. Machinery Sales.
With contracts received from leading architects and designers, Blades’ skilled joiners produce bespoke wardrobes, bathrooms, kitchens, plasma walls – also known as feature walls or media walls – as well as doors and staircases as required. In addition to using top quality woods and veneers, stainless steel, stone and leather are often incorporated in their work.
Domestic contracts represent 60% of Blades’ turnover, which has included the fitting out of luxury yachts. It is also active in supplying high-end office fit-outs and reception areas for top City companies.
After outgrowing its original premises, in May Blades moved into a 6,500 sq ft workshop on a four acre site in Marden, near Maidstone, building an additional 6,500 sq ft extension to give a total floor space of 13,000 sq ft. The site is conveniently located 40 miles south of London, with plenty of room in which to expand in the future. Among the company’s first machinery purchases back in 1996 was a nine-year-old second hand Striebig Economy model.
Partner Paul Wilcox said: “It has been regularly serviced by T.M. Machinery and is still as good as new. Because we were so pleased with it, and the service we have received from T.M., when we decided to buy two new vertical panel saws we decided not to look at any other makes. T.M. and Striebig have given us excellent service over the years.” He added that the “accuracy, quality of cut and ease and speed of use of the two new saws were excellent.”
They were bought as part of a £100,000 investment in new equipment to coincide with the move to bigger premises. This has also included a flat bed panel saw, a cross-cut saw and three state-of-the-art spray booths. “When we set up the business we decided not to go for small jobs in the local area or into mass production,” said Paul Wilcox. “We have been very successful in targeting top-end property refurbishments in London.”
Blades has a staff of 16, including project managers, CAD technicians, joiners, an apprentice, and sprayers, with fitting work sub-contracted out. The joiners are responsible for a complete job from start to finish, with all of them trained to use the new Striebig saws. After being assembled, to ensure everything fits together correctly, items are dismantled for spray finishing before being packaged and labelled ready for delivery.
Paul Wilcox said: “We have a terrific niche market and are very proud of what we do here. The value of each contract averages between £500,000 and £700,000 and we carry out around three or four contracts a year for properties of up to 30,000 sq ft.
“The average job takes us from between eights months to a year to complete, with our biggest contract to date taking 18 months. “To help us produce top quality work we employ only first class tradesmen, which we are always looking to recruit, and provide them with the very best quality equipment, which is why we have chosen Striebig for all our panel cutting.”
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