Oh Baby! Making a Priceless Heirloom With Precision Machining
At KAD, our passion for engineering consistently transforms manufacturing into an art form. We consider ourselves more than machinists—we’re makers who take immense pride in creating beautiful products.
Naturally, when we get the chance to work on an exceptionally creative project, we jump at the opportunity.
Recently a client came to us with a unique order: a custom-made, one-of-a-kind, wooden baby changing table—made entirely in our precision machine shop. Our team was thrilled to work on such a special project.
Precision Machining Wood
With such an abundance of “fast furniture” and disposable consumer goods available today, it’s meaningful to own a unique product built to last. Our client wanted an heirloom piece of furniture—something custom-made that they could pass down through generations.
Though woodworking experts are often the go-to source for these kinds of pieces, precision machining is another option. Machining wood isn’t new to us. In fact, we’ve machined many wood prototype models at our shop over the years.
Wood is a durable and beautiful material, but it’s not necessarily cheap. The lumber for this project alone cost hundreds of dollars. While there are more affordable changing tables at big box stores, the one we made is truly priceless in our client’s eyes.
When preparing to make the table, we spoke with our client about the design to ensure we were aligned.
Our main concern was about fastening and how the assembly would fit together. We wanted to design the table without visible fasteners for aesthetic and safety purposes. We collaborated with our client to get the final design right, incorporating complex features to hide all fasteners.
We also found opportunities to decrease the project cost by minimizing the number of unique components. For example, we standardized the design for the legs of the table so that we only had one leg style we could machine four times.
Material selection is crucial to any precision machining project. Child safety was a primary concern, so we had to identify readily available materials that wouldn’t pose a health hazard if, say, the baby bit or chewed on the edges of the table.
Considering all of the requirements, the KAD team advised on two local kiln-dried materials that we knew would be safe: birch and cedar from Bethel Mills Lumber here in Vermont. It’s essential to use kiln-dried wood because lumber found at local hardware stores is usually too damp for effective precision machining.
To complete the changing table, we looked for finishing options that were safe and readily available. We also knew we wanted a transparent finish to spotlight the natural beauty of the wood.
We chose a combination of vegetable oil and beeswax that’s non-toxic to babies and easy to reapply for years to come. Plus, it gives the cedar and birch a gorgeous sheen.
We are so proud of this heirloom piece of furniture and honored to make such a meaningful product at our precision machine shop.