The Italian-made machine was bought primarily to sand down the lippings on oak and oak-veneered panels used as retail shelving, a task it does swiftly and efficiently.

This was previously carried out either manually using an electric planer, followed by hand sanding, or was sent out to a local business that had a modern sander.

Hawkins Joinery specialises in producing bespoke shop fitting units to customers’ exacting designs. End users include clothing outfitters Moss Bros and leading retailer Lakeland, plus many others, for which it produces counters, wall panels, gondola displays and tables.

“In a typical contract for a Lakeland shop we have to make between 100 and 150 items of shelving,” says Dave Hawkins, who together with his brother Mark owns the joinery. “It used to take one man around two days to do all the sanding by hand, so that the lippings were flush with the panels.

“With the Viet it takes only about an hour, with one man loading the pieces on to the sander and another taking them off. The finished quality is always spot on, much better than we could do by hand.”

He says that the time saved was a major boost to efficiency. “It allows the men to get on with other jobs in the workshop and there’s now no need to pay another company to do the sanding for us when we are busy.”

The Viet S1 2200 heavy-duty model features two sanding belts, the first to do the initial rough sanding and the second to produce a fine finish. It has a working width of 1350mm and a sanding belt length of 2200mm. Clear and simple controls makes it easy to operate.

The versatile S1 is ideal for the calibration and sanding of solid wood, veneered panels, chipboard, MDF and Melamine panels and the sanding of lacquered panels with a matt finish.   

As well as producing shop fitting equipment, Hawkins Joinery has branched out into making reception desks and bookshelves for school libraries. It also made all of the wood-based shop fitting units, including long counters, for the retail store at Premier League West Ham United’s ground at Upton Park.

“I don’t believe in skimping on costs when it comes to buying equipment, as it never pays off in the long run,” Dave says. “I looked at a few other sanders but decided that Viet offered the best value for money. I suppose we could have got by with a smaller model, but we were able to obtain a larger machine for the same price as a smaller model would have cost from another manufacturer.”

He added that a big plus in Viet’s favour was that it was part of the Biesse Group. “We have a Biesse flat bed router and have been more than satisfied it and with the after-sales service that Biesse provides.

“The Viet is perfect for our needs and has upped our sanding quality whilst delivering both time and cost savings. It’s a great bit of kit.”

The S1 was supplied and installed by T.M Machinery, sole UK agents for the Viet artisan range of wide belt sanders, who also provide a maintenance service. The latest Viet models were on the T.M. Machinery stand at the W14 show at the National Exhibition Centre in October.