Auditing Wood Machining Processes used for Making Furniture

Process ImprovementWe work on more and more furniture-related projects, so we thought setting up a checklist specific to these processes was necessary.

The difficulty we encountered was the many types of wooden furniture. We were forced to make certain assumptions in order to limit the range and make the physical audit manageable:

  • All wooden furniture starts off as raw material
  • All wooden furniture has some sort of shaping process in order to get the wood looking like the end product
  • All wooden furniture has some sort of finish applied to the wood
  • All wooden furniture ends up as a finished product in either a fully assembled piece or as a product in a kit form where the consumer assembles the product when they get it home

So, taking these assumptions into account, we looked at the wooden furniture manufacturing process in more detail.

We cover topics like timber moisture and the drying processes and how they are controlled. It is very important to understand the moisture content of timber, particularly when changes in moisture content can change the dimensions of the wood, which could cause serious defects in the final product.

Turning a piece of timber into a piece of wooden furniture requires a number of different steps: cutting, sanding, shaping, laminating, gluing, drilling, painting and/or varnishing, screwing, stapling, printing (logos or names), assembly, and in some cases like a sofa or chair it is the addition of soft furnishings like foam and fabric covers.

We have reviewed these process steps and broken them down into sections where we examine the operational elements to assess the risks to the customer. It is at this level where we look at attention to detail, how repeatable the process is, the use of jigs and fixtures, and how safe working conditions are for example.

The objective of this type of process audit is to allow the customer to determine the risks related to a particular manufacturer, and to make a list of high-priority improvements.

Sections covered in this audit are:

  • Receiving Timber
  • Drying Timber
  • Cutting Timber to Size – Shaping
  • Drilling
  • Sanding
  • Gluing
  • Painting / Spraying
  • Polishing / Varnishing
  • Assembly, Screw Fixing
  • Screen Printing
  • Pad Printing
  • Health & Safety
  • In Process Quality Control (IPQC)
  • Work in Progress (WIP)
  • Fitting Upholstery
  • Packing

Did we forget something important?


  1. Tyler says

    Great list, I think another area to note is not just drying the wood at the beginning, but keeping it dry throughout the production processes. My factory in Southern China experiences moisture content changes of 2% in 24 hours sometimes.

    • Renaud Anjoran says

      Great comment. Thanks.
      So, how do you prevent this from happening? It seems pretty difficult to do. Do you need to add a process step to get the moisture content down again?