Wallace and Hinz Tour
Wallace and Hinz
|November 29, 2007
|Located in Blue Lake, CA at the old Almquist Lumber
location, Wallace & Hinz makes bars for commercial and
home use. You can find out more about their company and
see pictures of their products on the web at
Terry Beaudet gave us a
terrific tour of the facilities, which are divided into
three main areas: office, warehouse, and workshop.
The Wallace & Hinz office space is bright, warm, and
fairly conventional, with cubical-style work areas.
Terry said that sales, design, shop drafting, project
management (which is one of Terry's jobs), and
facilities management all take place out of this office.
|Adjoining the office is a space they call "The
Garage" which they hope to turn into a conference or
meeting room in the near future. This space currently
acts as an informal showroom, where sample bars are
displayed. Normally, this space contains their trade
show bar, but that was packed in crates during our visit
because they had just gotten back from a trade show in
New York City.
Terry warned that doing a trade show in
New York City is very expensive because of Union labor.
It cost them more to ship the trade show bar from New
Jersey to New York than it had to ship it from
California to New Jersey!
The trade show itself was extremely expensive just to
attend, and then there were the travel and hotel, plus
the extra costs they ran up because of various problems
that they had while they were there. So it's pricey to
do a trade show in New York!
During the course of the tour, Terry talked about the
general workflow at Wallace & Hinz and the overall
process by which their bars are created. Before
proceeding any further, let's review this process.
When Wallace & Hinz receives an inquiry about making
a bar, they decline to quote a price until after a week
or two of consultation has occurred. The consultation is
necessary to an accurate price quote because they need a
solid handle on the extent of the job; otherwise, they
tend to undercharge and be held to that quote.
They used to draw up plans for a prospective customer
before signing contracts but have had to discontinue
that practice. They found that, once the customer
received the plans and the quote, they tended to take
their business to a local woodworker who was willing to
do the work (from Wallace & Hinz's plans) for a cheaper
Once the consultation is over, the quote has been
made and accepted, and the contracts have been signed,
the actual plans for the bar are drafted in AutoCad.
Wallace & Hinz employs a specialist to draw up plans.
|Once the plans have been approved, a cut-list is
created and sent to their shop for manufacture.
Wallace & Hinz employs a number of people in their shop
who specialize in one particular task. For instance,
they have one guy who just cuts panel goods, another guy
who's their shaper man, shaping moldings and radius
moldings, someone else who applies finishes, several
others doing sanding, etc. They also outsource a fair
amount of work to specialists in the community, such as
wood carvers, CNC shapers, or specialty stained glass
It appeared to me that Wallace & Hinz is moving away
from doing all of their own parts fabrication, and
trying to focus on the planning, assembly, finish, and
installation work. They seem to be doing basic parts
fabrication in house, but outsourcing much of the rest.
(Doors, drawers, carvings, moldings and the CNC work.)
A dry-assembly of the components occurs to ensure
that all parts have been created or are in the pipeline.
The bars are staged completely to assure that they will
go together as planned when installed at the jobsite,
then broken down, stained and finished, then post
assembled (re-attaching the hardware, doors and
drawers,) then packed for shipping.
Once the bar has been completed and assembled in the
Assembly Room, the components are disassembled and
packed for shipping. If the customer is doing their own
installation, an installation manual and hardware kit is
created and packed with the bar components; if Wallace &
Hinz is doing the installation, no instructions are
considered necessary for their team. Terry said that
their best installation guy is the owner of the company,
who used to do installation for the previous incarnation
of Wallace & Hinz.
Wallace & Hinz tries to keep accurate records of
everything that is done on a particular job, especially
the types of finish used, etc. Customers often need bars
renovated or changed sometime down the line, and return
to Wallace & Hinz for these changes. Terry said that
they don't always need to check their records... but
whenever they do, it seems that the thing they need to
know is the thing they forgot to write down. Let this be
a lesson to us all to keep painstakingly-accurate
Now, let us return to the tour. Across the parking
area from the office, Terry led us into a large
warehouse space. Here's a picture:
|Terry said that they keep three kinds of wood in
stock for making bars: oak, cherry, and mahogany. He
said that they can make bars out of other woods, but
that they will cost more because they don't keep an
inventory on hand. He also said that Wallace & Hinz has
a symbiotic relationship with Almquist. It was in the
warehouse space that Terry talked a great deal about
Terry then took us into the Workshop area. Although
they are outsourcing more and more of their parts
fabrication, they still do a great deal in house. One of
the more interesting pieces of equipment was a
computer-controlled fence on their jump saw, shown here:
|A jump saw does right-angle crosscuts. A board is
placed along the fence and, when the saw is activated,
pneumatically-actuated clamps hold the board in place
while the blade "jumps" up from the bottom, crosscutting
the board. The fence has a computer control which is
used to position the stop-block. You enter the length
you want to cut into the keypad, and the stop block
zooms over to that position. You place the board against
the stop block, press a button, clamps come down to hold
the board in place, the blade jumps up, and you've got a
board cut to the length you've just specified. This
system removes the need to cut to a line, a common
source of error.
This jump saw has a 20" sawblade.
Measurements are made using decimal increments. This
also reduces the likelihood of error. Terry said that
using fractions for measurements is confusing and
increased error, so the decimal system is better.
Terry also talked about jointing and planing wood. He
recommends that you feed the wood slowly into the
machinery; though it takes longer, you minimize scallops
and reduce sanding issues.
Radius shaping was another big topic. There are
radius moldings (curved moldings around corners) on
almost every Wallace & Hinz bar. They don't have a CNC
(Computer Numerically Controlled) router, but create
radius moldings in the old-school way with an
appropriate shaper using jigs of various types. Among
other things, Terry showed us a "record player jig"
which was basically a turntable to which you affixed
your workpiece, allowing you to turn the wood past the
shaper, creating a curve. He warned that you often got
tearout when you hit the side-grain, so to proceed
Here is Terry with the shaper used for radius
|My feeling is that radius shaping would be an
excellent topic for an entire evening's meeting/class
for the HWS.
Terry said that radiused bar walls are
veneered using a vacuum press system, such as the one we
saw at last month's meeting. He says that you take the
platen out of the bag, and that the vacuum bag does the
pressing for irregular forms quite satisfactorily.
Terry also talked about bar tops. He said that
quarter sawn lumber is more stable than other types,
that it doesn't cup as much. He said that they do most
of their thicknessing using a wide belt sander. Terry
said that sanding the wood down took longer, but avoided
the tearout problems associated with a planer, and so
was less risky.
Terry then took us into the Assembly Room, where the
bars are assembled; sanding also takes place here.
|Terry pointed out the soft, cardboard tops which had
been placed over the tables. These soft tops minimized
damage during the sanding process. It seemed like there
was a different person doing almost every job in the
place: Bar walls, ancillary millwork (wainscot,
Terry showed us a 3-sided glue-up of
pieces which had been shaped by Bert Hafar, one of our
members, on his CNC setup (demonstrated to the HWS last
year). Here's a picture:
|This CNC-shaped element, with its many curves
forming a modern-style pillar, contains a slot along its
backside which fits over a flat wooden tab sticking out
of the bar.
The assembled components of the bars are
put together in the Staging Room, shown here:
|To stage the bars, Terry said that they use metal
angle brackets attached to the concrete floors! The bars
are then attached to these angle brackets. He said that
they will eventually want to put in a wooden floor, so
that they don't have to keep punching holes in the
There was also a large stained glass panel
from a back bar at the Blue Lake Casino which was having
the name changed out, shown here:
|Terry spoke of the difficulty of matching finishes
from previous work. The finish changes as it ages. Also,
finish formulations change, sometimes radically, as
years pass and environmental restrictions increase. It's
very hard to match finish colors from old work, even
with careful notes taken on the original work.
mahogany color, for instance, they mist a die color onto
the wood, then, once that's dry, they wipe a stain over
that to get a good, consistent burgundy color. Terry
said that it was difficult for them to get two pieces to
match. He said it looks OK, but "don't take it into the
sunlight while the client's there."
Terry also pointed out some features of their bars,
including access panels built into the bottle storage
areas, which could be removed in order to access wiring
behind the bar.
Terry said that their Back-Bar countertops could be
either plastic laminate, or veneered plywood. The Bar
Tops consist of a layer of exterior grade ACX plywood
with glued-up solid wood on top. He said that solid wood
alone tends to expand/contract, so it is NOT affixed to
the sub-top with glue. Rather, it is held in place with
screws and fender washers. There is a high-density wax
sheeting applied between the top and sub-top.
We then went into the Finishing Room. They spray the
finish onto the bar parts. Since you don't want wind
blowing your finish around while spraying, they block
off their ventilation system while spraying because
they're having positive pressure problems with their
ventilation system at the moment. Terry says: Since
corrected, now working as designed. The positive air
inflow (heated as needed) and 42" exhaust fan are now in
Once all of the parts of the bar are finished, they
go outside to Crating. They now use paper and an
expanding-foam gun while crating to protect the finish
on the bars. They used to have a lot of damage issues,
but, with the expanding-foam, they rarely have damage
Although they use both FedEx and UPS for shipping,
they prefer FedEx because of its excellent control for
shipping quality. UPS is not as good with fragile items.
Terry says: We ship the large crates FedEx Freight, any
extras (after the fact small parcels) are sent UPS and,
if fragile, we pack them very carefully!
Thank you, Terry for an enjoyable tour!
|NB: This article has been reviewed and corrected by
This article was written by Michael
Masumoto, with assistance from David "Kai" Herd.