In February the CKCA visited Lauten Woodworking in North Vancouver, B.C.
Recommended to us by the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, the reason for touring this shop was to see what Adrian Lauten and Kate Walker, founders of Lauten Woodworking, are doing and why they have earned a well-deserved reputation for exceptional craftsmanship and impeccable finishes.
In follow-up to this tour CKCA reached out to Jakub Stachurski, sales director for North America at Nuova Sivam S.p.A. Jakub was one of the tour hosts and has worked closely with Lauten. While our time at Lauten for the plant tour was somewhat brief, we asked Jakub to tell us in greater detail what Lauten was doing. Jakub is an industry veteran with extensive knowledge in high-performance coatings, specialized finish cycles, and colour formulation. Adrian and Kate recognized the importance of talent and invested in exploring new possibilities. Together they collaborated, which ultimately led to Lauten Woodworking’s success in delivering exceptional products and services to their clients.
The power of collaboration is amazing to see, especially when it creates a win-win situation. So rather than us telling the story of what makes Lauten exceptional, we asked Jakub to tell the story – and he did! Over to you Jakub…
Since Lauten established their business in 2006, they have become synonymous with creating architectural millwork of the highest quality, employing state-of-the-art technology and utilizing world-class wood finishes. Based in North Vancouver, they have become the go-to partner for designers and architects in the region, specializing in luxury residential and commercial projects.
Lauten and Walker continuously strive to exceed industry standards, catering to a discerning high-end clientele. Their commitment to excellence is evident in their relentless pursuit of superior products that offer outstanding performance while minimizing environmental impact. This commitment led them to transition from lacquers and conversion varnishes to 2k polyurethanes, acrylics, and water-based finishes. Through a partnership with a leading European manufacturer, they introduced a more durable, versatile, and environmentally friendly finish, surpassing their previous materials.
In addition to prioritizing superior performance, Lauten Woodworking prioritizes health-conscious choices in their finishes. By switching to 2K polyurethanes and acrylics, they eliminated formaldehyde, a well-known carcinogen present in conversion varnishes. This proactive approach ensures a safer environment for both their team and clients.
What sets Adrian and Kate apart is their willingness to embrace innovation and explore new products. They have become known as early adopters of cutting-edge technologies, often pioneering the use of these technologies in their market and beyond. Their hands-on experience in production, coupled with their ability to overcome challenges associated with advanced technology, has positioned them as experts in their field.
Their dedication to exceptional craftsmanship and willingness to test and experiment with various products has outpaced their local distributors. As a result, they now work directly with manufacturers, enjoying a closer relationship and access to exclusive products. Lauten Woodworking’s engagement and collaborative approach, backed by the support and open communication from chemists and the lab, have earned them a partnership status with the manufacturer. Furthermore, their suppliers have recognized their ability to promote products and have begun using Lauten Woodworking and its high-profile projects as showcases.
Lauten Woodworking’s pursuit of excellence has enabled them to expand their capabilities and maintain an inventory of various products. This inventory, not commonly seen in other shops, allows them to offer an extensive range of finishes. They have acquired colour-matching software and tinting equipment, granting them better control over their own color formulations and production. Consistency and flexibility are the keys to their success. Their inventory includes the full range of tintometric (pigmented/opaque finishes) solvent-based PU pigments, WB pigments, specialized micronized pigments, dyes, and a variety of resin binders for both WB and solvent-based stain and patina/glaze systems. Their arsenal of tools also includes a trans-oxide exterior grade pigment system and a full range of specialized metallic options.
Through continuous experimentation and risk-taking, Lauten Woodworking has tested and worked with a diverse range of products. Some notable examples include new non-isocyanate technologies that rival and surpass the performance of 2k polyurethane and acrylics, complex European WB exterior cycles, a variety of metallic finishes, in-depth understanding and mastery of manipulation using stains and binders, specialty coatings such as anti-scratch or soft-touch velvet effect, and exploration of bio-based, non-petroleum-based green finishes. Utilizing a wide range of sheens from 100 sheen wet look to zero sheen and further modifying natural effect products to develop unique results.
Lauten Woodworking’s dedication to excellence has led them to secure prestigious projects entrusted to their shop by architects and designers. They have become renowned for their ability to create specialty and one-of-a-kind finishes that other shops struggle to reproduce. Although achieving these finishes involves significant investments in labour, time, and extensive testing, the payoff has been worth it. Lauten Woodworking has transformed their finishing process into a form of surface design, setting new industry standards.
Alongside their commitment to craftsmanship, Lauten Woodworking has embraced technological advancements. Their shop is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery, including a German-made Venjakob automated flat-line finishing machine. This machine, capable of handling finishes for products up to 2.5 inches in depth, features a wide conveyor belt and four precise spray guns that apply coatings as pieces move through the process. They have also incorporated a German Weber sander, which they discovered during their visit to the LIGNA woodworking trade fair in 2019. Other valuable equipment includes the Corob Clevermix 700 European shaker, tinting racks, and multiple high-accuracy digital scale stations.
Adrian Lauten and Kate Walker embody the approach necessary for success in an ever-developing industry. They understand that staying at the top requires constant risk-taking and investment. They invest not only in equipment and technology but also in talent and knowledge. By developing valuable relationships with manufacturers, designers, architects, and institutions such as the Advanced Centre of Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia, and collaborating with companies such as Canon on new technologies, they have positioned themselves as insiders who stay ahead of the curve. Soon, Lauten Woodworking will move into a new 12,000 sq. ft. location in North Vancouver, expanding their reach and attracting the best talent in the woodworking business.