We ask Sales Manager, Rob Owens, to take us through the whole journey. Starting from the moment our supplier delivers the planks of engineered timber to our workshop and ending with the finished product being dispatched to our client’s homes, find out how we craft our bespoke joinery...
Rob Owens spends a lot of his day running between his desk in our office and the machines in our joinery workshop. Being the Westbury Windows and Joinery Sales Manager, it’s his job to oversee the estimating and sales department, but he also undertakes site meetings, site measuring, processing and project managing. Preferring to be ‘where the action is’, he likes to keep an eye on how the different orders are coming along in our bespoke joinery workshop so he can give our customers regular updates.
Occupying a large factory, office and showroom in the heart of the Essex countryside, we’re proud to say that all of our products are British designed and British made. Quite often, our clients come to take a tour around our workshop to see the production line themselves and meet with our skilled craftsmen. Here, they can see the care and attention that goes into making each product, and fully understand the efforts that we go to ensuring our carbon footprint and wastage is as low as it can possibly be.
Day 1: Timber Delivery
All of our doors and windows are made from engineered timber, consisting of layers of timber sections, which are compressed, bonded, and laminated together. The direction of the grain in each section alternates, making the layers stronger and more dimensionally stable than solid wood. We use Accoya for the external layer of our engineered timber, as this is the side that will be exposed to the elements.
Accoya is a revolutionary timber which is CO2 neutral throughout its full lifecycle, 100% biodegradable and offers exceptional performance. Because of the way it is made, Accoya offers better dimensional stability than even tropical hardwoods, with a reduction in swelling and shrinkage by 75% or more, and has a guaranteed lifespan of 50 years.
Accoya is made from Radiata Pine, an exceptionally fast-growing tree which goes through a non-toxic, environmentally friendly chemical process called acetylation to make it super strong. If you were to look closely at a piece of cut Accoya, you’ll notice how thick and chunky the growth rings are in comparison to other timbers, giving it a somewhat inauthentic appearance.
For the inner layers of our engineered timber we use Redwood, which has a slower growth so it has a tighter grain in comparison to Accoya. Therefore our bespoke joinery has a nicer, traditional wood aesthetic with a flawless paint finish on the inside. However with the Accoya on the outside, they still benefit from the material’s outstanding weatherproof qualities.
We like to think ahead and order materials in bulk to avoid frequent numbers of smaller deliveries, helping to cut down on traffic emissions over time. When the timber first arrives at our workshop, we stack it outside, where it can be kept in the temperatures that it will eventually be exposed to on site.
By storing the timber outside, we can make sure that the timber adjusts to the moisture levels in our climate. Our supplier processes the timber in Germany, where it is exposed to a slightly dryer environment. If we were to store the timber in our workshop, it will dry out in the warmth too much before being painted. This will cause problems when the finished doors and windows are fitted on site, because they will immediately suck up moisture from the air and will cause cracking and water ingress.
Week 1: The Cross Cut Saw
Our cross cut saw is a fine example of the modern technologies we use to keep our workshop waste to a minimum. The machines computer cleverly works out the best way to cut all of the required pieces as economically as possible so there are only a few off cuts to dispose of.
For example, if we were making 20 bespoke casement windows, the cross cut saw will work out how best to cut all the pieces with the size timber that we have, no matter what the production phases might be. The saw will print out a label for each piece, clearly defining what each component is for which product and for which job, so everything can be easily identifies no matter what order it comes out in.
Any tiny offcuts from the Cross Cut Saw are put into a hopper and burnt to fuel the office’s underfloor heating and hot water during the winter. In the summer, they are picked up and recycled by another company to make briquettes.
Week 1: The Moulder Machine
This machine starts to add simple grooves and moulding into the pieces of wood. We simply push the timber through the machine and it carves it into the desired shape.
Week 2: The Conturex Machine
The cut pieces are then put through the Conturex, which created the finer detailing such as dowel holes, hinge cut outs, lock cut outs and trickle vents. For this machine, we have to lay the pieces of timber in a very specific order depending on how the computer asks for it. It self-feeds the timber through, cutting the relevant shapes and grooves for each piece of bespoke joinery.
Week 2: Dowels and Gluing
Here, a dowling machine is used to fire wooden dowels and glue at the same time, making this part of the process really quick. Additional silicone-based glue is then used to stick the bespoke joinery together. Where the glue is flexible, it helps to hold the joints if they ever do move. The glued pieces are kept still in a large clamp while the joints dry.
Week 3: Prepping for paintwork
In this part of the factory, the doors and windows are prepped to make them ready for painting. Any residual glue is sanded down and made smooth, so all the joints in our windows are completely smooth and invisible. Any staff beads or frame moulding are added at this stage, along with door panels.
Week 3: Painting our bespoke joinery
We use a conveyor system, so all the painted doors and windows can move round the room easily without any smudges or smears. We mix up the high quality water-based microporous Teknos paint using a machine, which can produce any bespoke colour our customers might want. We start with a layer of anti-stain primer as a base coat, and an additional two coats of colour. If customers are looking for a dual finish with different colours, this requires extra masking up and drying time between coats. Between each coat of paint the timber is de-nibbed, meaning it is briefly sanded down to keep it smooth and clean before being painted again. Visitors will notices that this part of the factory is heated to keep the drying time down.
When used on Accoya timber, Teknos paint can last for 12 years or more before it require repainting, providing it is washed down biannually. Where Accoya windows and doors will not significantly expand every summer and shrink every winter, it is the perfect timber material to paint over. Painted surfaces won’t crack through UV exposure or seasonal mechanical stress, and can last up to twice as long as a standard painted window.
Week 4: Glazing
All our doors and windows are externally glazed, meaning that the glazing tape is on inside. All of the glass is first checked for scratches or imperfections behind a lightbox, as these are highly visible as soon as a window is installed and catches the sunlight in a client’s home. In this part of the factory, our experts are sometimes handling huge pieces of glass depending on the order so every care has to be taken.
We lay the glass ontop of glazing tape and fit our external glazing beads, which are pinned from behind to prevent them from going through the paintwork. We then lay the grid of glazing bars on with glazing tape, and then silicone seal the gap created where we have put the pins in. We touch up the glazing bars by hand where they have met with the glazing beads.
Weeks 5-6: Finishing touches
In the final stage, we fit doors and windows with any required locks, hinges, handles and knockers. The products are given a final clean before being wrapped and ready for transport. We invested in larger vans so we can make fewer journeys and transport more products at once. The finished products are delivered on site, unwrapped and professionally fitted.
At Westbury, we want our customers to feel assured that their bespoke joinery has been built to the highest of standards while causing minimal damage to the environment. Visitors are usually fascinated to see how we start off with a completely raw and natural material, and end up with an elegant timber door or window six weeks later.