Southern Fire Doors & Joinery was set up in 2011 by Tony Ellingworth and his son, Tom. Working from a good-sized unit the company produced door-sets and bespoke joinery using classic machines such as a mortiser, tenoner, vertical spindle, and various hand tools.
In 2016 they decided to scale down the factory size and removed the ‘joinery’ element from the business name to concentrate on doorsets. These were produced mostly with hand routers and jigs for the apertures, locks, hinges, handle holes and other ironmongery housings.
The company started to look at second-hand CNC machines to see if this could help with production, but they soon turned their attention to a new machine consulting with numerous suppliers, including Masterwood, which demonstrated its basic CAD/CAM software, MasterWorks, showing Southern Fire Doors various doors and frames being fully machined.
An order was duly placed for a Masterwood Project 250, an entry-level machine but fully suitable for the work required and within Tony and Tom’s budget. The machine features a full drilling head, main heavy-duty router, a dual exit direct drive horizontal router and a patented Schmalz vacuum pod and rail bed system.
The machine was delivered to the Southern Fire Door’s workshop on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire in August 2018. Masterwood GB provided technicians to set the machine up and provide on-site training for the software and machine, showing how to create parametric programmes for their doors and frames. Tom did most of the training, and said: “At the time it seemed a very daunting task, but with the technicians’ support and help we soon found we could create programmes on our own.”
Within five months of the installation Tony said: “We are now looking at jobs with various companies that we could never have considered pre-CNC. This is a new world for us but Tom has grabbed it with both hands and not only speeded up our doorset production, but has found time to design various products that were sold off before Christmas for charity.”
Having called in at their works in January 2019 to see how they were getting on, Masterwood GB director, Dave Kennard, said: “I am impressed with the way Tom has approached the CNC and the results it can give them.
He has looked at ideas and moved forward and in such a short time has produced some very good work”
Owner Tony summed it all up when he said: “What used to take us about two hours to produce a door and frame fully worked is now taking 15 minutes, or less.”
Southern Fire Doors join a large group of Masterwood customers who specialise in door production using a vast range of machines from entry level CNC like the Project 250 through dedicated machines like the Project Door and DoorLine and up to fully automated production lines.