Ron Currie Invest In CNC Technlogy For Joinery Production

Sutton in Ashfield based Ron Currie and Sons are a family run timber and joinery supplies merchant serving the locality for over 40 years. The company was founded in 1974 by Ron Currie, but the day to day running is now in the hands of sons Jim and Andy. They pride themselves on being a ‘one stop shop’ for anything from screws up to staircases, bespoke windows, doors and gates. Thanks to their philosophy of the ‘customer comes first’ they have a large and loyal client base who come back time and again. In order to ensure they offer their customers the widest range of quality joinery products, Curries have invested a significant amount of money in recent years equipping their joinery manufacturing workshop with some of the latest high tech woodworking machinery. The most recent acquisitions have been a Centauro ALFA NC milling / slotting machine and a Centauro BETA CNC swing chisel mortiser.

Jim Currie picks up the story “One of our big advantages is we are able to offer our customers joinery products bespoke to their needs. To do this we realised some time ago that we needed to invest in equipment that would give us the most flexibility and versatility. We were aware that a lot of companies in this sector have invested in CNC routers and so a number of years ago we started to investigate what was available. We did come close on a couple of occasions to buying something, but at the end of the day we were never really convinced they were what we needed specification and budget wise. However we kept looking and I am a big fan of scouring the web and looking at YouTube videos to see what is around. As result we saw the Centauro Alfa machine on the JJ Smith website. Both myself and Andy could see straight away that the machine ticked a lot of our boxes and as result I contacted Smiths and arranged an appointment for Paul Parker to visit us and have a look at what we wanted to do. He took the time to go through all the jobs we had in mind and was happy the Alfa would do all of them, which included machining doors and frames for the locks, keeps, hinges and handle holes, stair strings, and window vent slotting to name just a few”.

A visit was then arranged to see a machine operational at JJ Smith’s Liverpool showroom where Jim and Andy put its through it paces, machining some of their own parts. The Alfa did everything they wanted it to and after finalising a specification an order was placed. As standard the ALFA has a working length capacity of 2800mm and is equipped with a main router head that can work in either the vertical or horizontal. The workpiece to be machined is easily loaded, positioned and clamped on to solid bed for maximum support. Options specified included the ISO 30 quick change tool system, additional small router for hinge screw pilot hole drilling and / or making square hinge recesses for rectangular hinges. In addition the machine was fitted with a removable table extension which allows for stair strings to be machined and a wider table that allows for 2 door jambs to be clamped and machined simultaneously.

The machine has now been installed for over 9 months and the Currie brothers have been delighted with its performance. Jim says “We are now able to produce on a single machine parts that traditionally would have had to be done on 2 or 3 separate, slower machines. In addition the accuracy and quality of cut is far superior. The other big plus for us has been how simple the machine is to set up and program, the parametric feature is a real bonus and allows us to easily produce doors of different heights without having to change anything. Dave Moore from JJ Smith did a great job on training us and we were up and running within a day. The ALFA is now is key machine in our workshop and we use it for a variety of different applications”.

Not long after the ALFA had been installed, Jim and Andy turned their attentions to another area of production that needed upgrading. Although they had installed a fully programmable single end tenoner some time ago, mainly for the production of solid wood doors, they had continued to use a standard chisel mortiser which was time consuming to run and first required manual marking out of the stiles. During the visit to the JJ Smith showroom earlier in the year, they also had looked briefly at the Centauro Beta CNC horizontal swing chisel mortiser and had been impressed in how it worked. As a result they once again contacted Paul to discuss the machine in further detail and an order was concluded. The machine supplied was fitted the optional hollow chisel head which can used for producing the small mortise slots for glazing bars, while the main oscillating chisel is used for mortising for the rails, with the ability to machine through 120mm wide timber. Thanks to the programmable, automatic operation of the machine no manual marking out is required. Instead the mortise slot positions, length, depth are programmed on the graphic touch screen controller by means of electronic macro templates with the facility of producing both left and right hand stiles. This machine has now been installed for several months and Andy says “It really has speeded up our mortising operation whilst also improving quality and accuracy. Once the piece has been loaded the complete operation is fully automatic without the need for any manual operator intervention. Also as it uses the same type of controller and macro programming system as the ALFA it was very easy for us to pick up”

Jim concludes “From start to finish JJ Smith have offered straight forward, sound advice and have carefully listened to our needs. We are very pleased with both machines and no doubt we will be in touch with Paul again when we are thinking about other ways to improve production output and quality”.