Finishing: a major skills challenge
Wood finishing typically represents at least 25% of the cost of the product, and the decisions made and actions taken at this stage of the production process are critical to the quality of the final product. Paradoxically however, formal training in this area is difficult to find. For many wood products companies, much of the skills training that is available to their employees are provided by the vendors or manufacturers of industrial machinery. This kind of training is commonly available for most types of cutting, drilling, and profiling machinery, including those using CNC technology. Wood finishing is a more complex area however, as it is directly and substantially affected by factors other than the operation of the equipment itself. These include the quality and surface properties of the wood used; the coatings and stains chosen; the finishing system used; environmental conditions within the plant; and the relevant air emissions and safety regulations in force in the manufacturer’s location. Where training is available it is often limited, focused on proprietary products, or generic in nature. A 2003 study by the Wood Manufacturing Council ( Ottawa ) found that finishing technicians were one of the three most difficult occupations to recruit for.
In response to the need for accessible, non-proprietary, structured training, the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing has developed the Certificate in Industrial Wood Finishing. The program provides in-depth, comprehensive discussion of all of the key aspects of wood finishing. It has been designed to allow industry participants to study the theoretical aspects of finishing in a convenient, web-based format that is flexible to learners’ work schedules and other commitments. At the conclusion of the web-based study period learners will spend one week in an intensive practical finishing session that includes hands-on exercises, demonstrations, and guest presentations by various technical specialists.
The UBC Certificate in Industrial Wood Finishing is designed to provide professional learners from the woodworking industry with a broad understanding of the field of wood finishing. The program involves a comprehensive review of the various dimensions of wood finishing, including wood properties, colour theory, the physical and chemical processes associated with the applications of stains and coatings, application methods; pre-treatments; coatings; application and curing equipment and automation; safety; environmental considerations; quality control and testing methods; and costs/economics. Throughout the course, workplace examples and case studies are referenced as much as possible, to provide real-world context to the discussions.
The course proceeds in a logical way following the important steps involved in the wood finishing process starting from selection of wood, colour theory, surface preparation, and staining through to the application and curing of top coats. At each of these stages the equipment involved in applying and curing finishes is described, and exercises and online discussions will be used to reinforce facts and concepts covered.
For more information on the program, please follow the links in the left-hand menu.