When the company was incorporated in 1895, Keller made spokes and other materials for farm wagons. It later broadened its product line to include complete wagons, as well as walk-in ice boxes and Jeep bodies for General Motors. In 1943, Keller entered the furniture market and liquidated the wagon business.
Today, the company combines old-world craftmanship with the latest production technologies to build high-quality, solid wood furniture. The company employs 700 workers among its three manufacturing facilities.
After the company purchases its lumber from the mills, moisture is removed from the wood in three stagesby air-drying, predrying and kiln-drying. Employees cut the parts, and build, pack and ship the furniture to retailers. "We have complex laminations that we use exclusively. This makes a better piece of furniture that¿s not subject to splitting," explains Bill Heishman, assistant plant manager. "Wood is not like metal. It changes with the weather, and you have to take that into account during the manufacturing process."
Adhesive is critical to Keller¿s production process. After using the same adhesive for more than 20 years, the company switched to a water-based adhesive that is helping reduce Keller¿s operating costs as much as 20 percent over the previous adhesive.
Keller uses H.B. Fuller Co.¿s (St. Paul, MN) single-component RK-2399 adhesive to glue the edges and faces of hardwood dimensional panels. It uses a polymer specifically for bonding hardwood. According to Heishman, the adhesive provides exceptional shear strength, heat resistance, wet tack and setting speed.
The adhesive is supplied in 55-gallon drums and pumped into adhesive spreader pans for use at edge-gluing stations throughout the plants. Random-width strips of wood are ripped to size and then edge-glued and often face-glued using a clamp carrier system. Because of the adhesive¿s fast-developing wet tack, parts don¿t slip during transport into the clamp carrier. Clamp time has been reduced by 15 to 20 minutes.
Because of its heat-resistance, RK-2399 can withstand dryers and other heat sources used in the finishing process. Its solvent resistance helps it withstand solvent-borne stains and lacquers. Low abrasive-filler content helps extend tool life.
While this adhesive offers many benefits in clamp-carrier applications, Keller has also been able to reduce its adhesive spread by 20 percent. Cutting back on adhesive has not been at the expense of performance. "Saving a few pennies doesn¿t serve you if it compromises bond quality on an expensive piece of furniture," says Heishman. "The biggest thing about this adhesive is that it holds our furniture together. The bond quality is excellent. We¿ve had really good luck with this product."
For more information on adhesives, call 651-236-5900, visit www.hbfuller.com.