Custom Hardwood Furniture & Accessories

         MountainHaven uses a methodology that is, at the highest level, a "waterfall" approach to the design and fabrication of custom hardwood furniture and accessories.  There are three distinct phases in the project lifecycle.
  1. Feasibility Consultation
  2. Detailed Design and Estimation
  3. Fabrication

Some phases, or steps within a phase,  are processes that are iterative in nature, such as the Detail Design and Estimation phase. Others are basically performed once and are then complete, such as applying the specified wood finish. Regardless of the phase, or step, of the project, MountainHaven ensures that the client is engaged throughout the process to ensure the final results meet, or exceed, the expectation of the client.

     Occasionally the design of a project needs to be modified, or even cancelled, by the client after they have accepted the design and commissioned the work to begin.. Click on the links below to view descriptions of the Modification and Cancellation processes.

  1. Project Modifications after authorization of project
  2. Cancellation of Project after initial deposit
Feasibility Consultation phase
  The purpose of this phase of the project is to enable MountainHaven and the client to become acquainted with each other and to discuss the general needs and desires of the client.  This consultation normally occurs in the home of the client, or the space where the piece(s) will be placed.  Function and aesthetic needs and desires are discussed and guidance provided to the client to help develop a commonly understood concept for the work.  A rough conceptual design is identified and an estimate is made of the range of cost.  The objective is to ascertain if conceptual design is practical to create and feasible for the client.  There are two discrete steps in the Feasibility Consultation phase.
  Initial Consultation: This task occurs in a conversational mode with the client. It is a giving and receiving of information between both the client and MountainHaven.  A rough conceptual design is documented. Photographs are usually taken of the surroundings in which the completed work will be placed. Dimensions of the space are recorded. Functional and aesthetic requirements are recorded. Enough information is gathered and organized to enable a rough estimation of the range of cost.
  General Estimation: When possible, particularly for less complex commissions, a rough estimate is given to the client at the end of the Initial Consultation. More complex projects may require additional research before the General Estimate can be made available, thus may require one or more days in which to complete the research and formulate the General Estimate.
  This phase of the MountainHaven commission lifecycle is complimentary for all but the most complex projects.  The result of this phase will enable the client, and MountainHaven, to make the joint decision to proceed with a project that is feasible for both the client and the MountainHaven studio. (return to top)
Detailed Design and Estimation phase
  Detailed design and estimating is the next phase of the project lifecycle, once the client and MountainHaven have agreed to proceed with a feasible commission project.  This phase is of necessity iterative in the design step, though the estimation step can often be accomplished in a single iteration.
  Detailed Design: The information gathered during the Initial Consultation step as is used as a springboard to Detailed Design.  MountainHaven will continue to consult with the client to gather more input and feedback to expand and clarify the desires and needs of the client.  Often, several design iterations are performed in order to achieve the desired design for the commissioned work.  Almost all client projects are developed using a three dimensional digital design tool.  Occasionally, even the space in which the completed work will be placed will be digitally modeled in three dimensional form when necessary to convey a sense of scale, balance and harmony.  The design will be finalized by selecting the wood, or woods, to be used along with the type of finish desired and hardware preferences identified.
  Estimation: Finalized designs are evolved into detailed material requirements. Material costs and availability are verified with suppliers before generating the final estimate. Design drawings and all other requirements are carefully reviewed to gauge the level of effort required to bring the design into reality. MountainHaven will meet with the client to present, review and discuss the design and estimate.
  This phase delivers a design rendering (usually digital) of sufficient detail that the client is able confirm the design meets their desires and needs for both functional and aesthetic aspects.  The estimate of cost for the commissioned work is provided as a range value. Each work is a unique creation made to meet the individual wishes of the client and cannot therefore be estimated in the same manner as repetitive "production" pieces.  MountainHaven will also provide an estimate of time required to make the commissioned work.  However, MountainHaven is quality driven - not calendar driven - and will not sacrifice the quality of work for the sake of the calendar.  MountainHaven is not frivolous with studio shop time - and does not sacrifice quality. (return to top)
Fabrication phase
  With a finalized design, physical work can commence on the commission. A deposit is required to block out studio shop time and to acquire necessary materials. Receipt of the project deposit marks the beginning of the Fabrication phase. The required deposit is based on the percentage of materials cost in the project and can vary. Projects with large amounts of rare, exotic woods will require a higher deposit than those that utilize domestic woods of lesser cost. Typically, the deposit will be 35% to 50% of the estimated cost of the project.

The fabrication phase for complex projects may be broken into multiple mini-projects rather than holding back completed work while waiting for the last element to be completed.  Generally, most projects will be fabricated and prepared for delivery, or pick up, as a whole.  The steps of the fabrication process are explained below.

  Acquisition Upon receipt of the deposit, MountainHaven orders all necessary hardware, special order items, accessories and any other non-wood items as required.  Some special items may have longer lead times, but most items are received within 1- 2 weeks of placing the order. As soon as the non-wood items are ordered, MountainHaven prepares a detailed cut plan and begins the process of hand selecting the woods from one of several suppliers.  Individual pieces of wood are indexed to the cut plan during the hand selection process to ensure desired grain matching with regard to tone, pattern and texture. This process can take several hours for a smaller project, or even extend over many days for a complex project, or a project requiring wood species of limited availability. If the client wishes to review the woods selected before milling begins a studio visit will be scheduled.
  Milling Cutting to rough dimension, sizing and shaping of the selected woods will begin as quickly as possible.  Clients of MountainHaven are always welcome to schedule a visit to the studio shop to see the progress being made on their commissioned items. However, for safety reasons active milling operations cannot be performed during a client visit.
  Joinery The precision cutting of each piece to final size is the next step. This includes the cutting and precision fitting of each and every joint. Each project will use several types of joints with each joint type selected for the particular strength characteristics required at that specific joint. Commonly used joint types are mortise/tenon, dovetail, finger, box, rabbet and locked tenon among others.  MountainHaven does not rely on screwed joints for hardwood construction.   All joinery is tested by dry fitting for proper fit and mating before permanent assembly.
  Initial Prep After the joinery dry fitting is completed, each sub assembly is disassembled and all the individual pieces are prepared for the application of the first wood finishing treatment before permanent assembly is performed.  No compromise is made at this stage, regardless of the effort required. Improperly prepared surfaces will turn a fabulous wood finish into mediocrity and disappointment. With the initial prep completed on all sub assemblies, the piece can usually be dry fit into it's final form and scheduled for a pre-finish viewing by the client, if so desired.
  Assembly All sub assemblies are permanently joined in this stage, and each sub assembly is then joined with others, permanently, to form the whole piece, except for moveable/removable elements, of course. Drawer guides, hinges, pulls, etc. are fitted at this point, then removed to facilitate finishing. The construction of some pieces may, of necessity, be taken through the finishing steps before being fully joined to make the whole piece. Again, the client is usually invited to visit the studio at this point to view the work before application of the finish begins, if they desire to do so.
  Final Prep The piece, either as a whole or as sub assemblies, has been permanently joined and must receive final prep attention before application of the finish can begin. This involves final sanding, usually in large part by hand, if not completely by hand.
  Finish Application Before application of the finish begins, either on the whole piece or any sub assembly, the desired finish is applied to a "cut off" (scrap) of wood from the project. MountainHaven will meet with the client, preferably in the studio, to receive final approval of the formulated finish. If desired, the client may view the test piece in the space in which the furniture will be placed to ensure the formulated finish is as desired. Final finish application cannot begin without approval of the finish sample by the client.
  Final Finishing After finish application has been completed, any final steps will be performed. This may include any additional buffing, waxing, etc. as specified in the design. At this stage, all hardware will be permanently affixed as necessary and appropriate (some hardware should be installed at the client premises, depending on the delivery/pick up method being employed).
  Pickup/Delivery/Setup MountainHaven will deliver the piece(s) to the customer premises within a limited radius from the studio. The client may also pick up the piece(s) at the studio, or arrange to have them picked up by a client designee. The piece(s) can be shipped parcel (if small enough) or freight (usually because of size/weight). Any crating/parcel/freight charges will be calculated prior to shipping and are an extra cost added to the project.  The remaining cost balance of the project is due immediately upon delivery.  If the client has a designee pick up the piece(s) for them, or chooses to utilize a freight service, the balance must be paid in full before the piece(s) are released by the MountainHaven studio.

The fabrication steps listed above are listed in the logical, requisite sequence for a smaller commissioned piece.  Many projects are actually broken from the whole into smaller sub-assemblies, systems, or units that are tracked through the listed steps.  Often, there are two or more sub-assemblies being fabricated in the studio shop at the same time, but are in different steps of the fabrication process.  This parallel processing is more efficient and yields final results in less time, but with no compromise in the quality of the work. (return to top)

Modifications of Design
  Modifications to the design of the piece can be accommodated at any part of the project lifecycle. However, any changes made after the project deposit is received will most likely incur additional charges, unless the change would be determined to have no significant impact on project cost. Upon notification that a change is desired, MountainHaven will suspend all active work on the commissioned piece(s) and will collaborate with the client to understand and document the specific changes desired. MountainHaven will then estimate the cost (or credit due) for the requested change. If the change requires acquisition of additional materials/parts, then a change request deposit will be required before the additional materials can be ordered and work resumed.  (return to top)
Cancellation of Project
  Should the project be cancelled, in whole or in part, once the Fabrication phase begins, then the client will be required to compensate MountainHaven for studio time expended on the work up to the point in time the project is cancelled. Any portion of the deposit that may be refundable will be applied to the cost of expended studio time and cost of materials. Any remainder of the deposit would then be refunded. Should the refundable portion of the deposit be insufficient to cover the studio time expended by MountainHaven up to the time of project cancellation, then MountainHaven will bill the outstanding amount, due and payable immediately. (return to top)
All content, including graphics and images, copyright 2014, Ed Reasoner, all rights reserved.