The Evolution of Larick Machinery: Innovating Woodworking Solutions
This is the story of how Larick Machinery’s founder transformed a persistent challenge in the industry into an opportunity for revolutionizing woodworking practices.
From the humble beginnings of hand sanding to the cutting-edge machinery of today, Larick Machinery has consistently delivered precision, efficiency, and quality. After nearly four decades, Larick Machinery became part of the Pillar Machine lineup to continue delivering this level of excellence to the Pillar Machine customer base.
The journey began in the mid-eighties when Larick Machinery’s founder worked at a cabinet shop, spending endless hours painstakingly sanding door edges. Each operator achieved inconsistent results throughout the day, leaving behind unsightly endgrain tearout and porous surfaces that absorbed finishes like a sponge. Determined to find a solution, they experimented with various sanding methods, from inline vibrators to flexible belts with profiled shoes. However, none yielded the desired results.
All until a fortuitous encounter at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) changed the course of Larick Machinery forever. The Larick team stumbled upon SIA Abrasive’s booth, where they showcased profiled sanding wheels—an innovation that piqued their interest. These stretchable cloth-backed abrasives wrapped around a wheel proved to be a revelation. When put to the test, the sanding wheels transformed the endgrain, resulting in smoother surfaces with minimal color variation. Sanding time was dramatically reduced from 14 hours to a mere 2 hours. A task that was once dreaded could now be eliminated.
Inspired by this breakthrough, Larick Machinery set out to design the perfect sanding system. The result was the 360 machine, equipped with vertical adjustment, spindle tilt, variable speed, and horizontal spindle travel to eliminate the need for fence adjustments. With this revolutionary sanding system, Larick Machinery’s sanding time became shorter than the time required to shape doors and panels. However, they faced a new challenge—the sanding wheel acted like a jointer, straightening the edges by removing high portions but missing the lows if the parts were not perfectly straight.
Undeterred, they embarked on a new endeavor. They developed the 410 Shaper/Sander, a machine that guided parts through straight and utilized the mechanisms of the 360 sander to sand them twice. This innovation not only resolved the issue of inconsistent shaping but also introduced a range of other benefits. Parts were fed through the machine in a straight line, eliminating snipes. Operators’ hands were kept at a safe distance from the cutters, enhancing overall safety. Furthermore, profiles could be changed swiftly in just a matter of minutes using digital position indicators for precise horizontal and vertical adjustments.
Initially, the founder believed that only larger shops could afford the 390, the flagship machine. However, after observing other products being leased for a certain cost per day, they realized that the 390 could be leased for as little as $20 per day. This realization opened up possibilities for smaller woodworking shops. Considering the time saved in tooling changeovers, which were a frequent occurrence, the lease cost was easily justified. Not only did this decision bring efficiency and savings, but it also improved the quality and safety of operations for these smaller shops.
Over the next four decades, the Larick Machinery team would produce the following machines:
The Innovative 360
With the confirmation that profiled sanding wheels were a game-changer in sanding cabinet door edges and raised panels, Larick Machinery set out to design a machine that would maximize the potential of this innovative technology. Thus, the Larick 360 was born.
The 360 boasted essential features, including vertical and horizontal wheel movement, spindle angle tilt, and adjustable speed. These features allowed woodworkers to achieve precise and uniform sanding of edge and raised panel profiles. The Larick 360 quickly gained recognition for its exceptional performance and became a staple in woodworking shops across the country.
Catering to Diverse Needs: The 150 and 410
As customer demand grew, Larick Machinery expanded its product lineup to cater to specific sanding requirements. For customers seeking a dedicated solution for panel sanding, Larick introduced the 150. With vertical adjustment and variable speed capabilities, the 150 simplified panel sanding by using a rub collar instead of fences. Additionally, an optional removable one-piece fence allowed for sanding edge profiles without the need for tilting the spindle.
To address the need for increased production and efficiency, Larick Machinery developed the 410—a machine that combined shaping and profile sanding operations into a single, streamlined process. The 410’s versatility allowed for the shaping and sanding of pre-arched panels and other curved edges. By incorporating floating heads with bearing-equipped spindles, the 410 ensured precise shaping and sanding, even on intricate parts.
Unleashing the Power of the Larick Lineup:
Larick Machinery’s commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction led to the development of several machines that catered to various sanding applications. The 220 emerged as a versatile solution, capable of sanding both cabinet door edges and panels without the need for setup changes. Equipped with brush-type sanding wheels and counter-rotating heads, the 220 provided exceptional sanding results while preserving the integrity of outside corners.
For sanding moldings as they exited a molder, Larick Machinery introduced the 230. This machine eliminated the need for a secondary sanding operation, saving time and resources for woodworking professionals. With its specialized design and precise sanding capabilities, the 230 became an indispensable tool for efficient production.
The 260 emerged as a workhorse in the Larick lineup, capable of handling a wide range of sanding applications. From irregular-shaped parts to deburring and edge-breaking, the 260 delivered consistent results. Its dual-sided configuration allowed for multiple grit placements, and the option for dual-operator usage enhanced productivity in the workshop.
Embracing Innovation: The Larick 700, 5000, and 6000:
Larick Machinery continued to innovate and expand its offerings to meet evolving industry demands. The 700, designed for sanding moldings, flooring, and long parts, utilized sanding brushes and offered the flexibility to distress parts using wire or abrasive nylon heads. Its unique conveyor belt design provided optimal support for parts up to 15 inches wide, enabling woodworkers to achieve stunning finishes.
The 5000 stood out as a comprehensive solution for sanding all four sides of parts. With its configurable top, bottom, and side heads, the 5000 offered versatility and precise sanding capabilities. By eliminating the need for multiple setups, this machine streamlined production and ensured consistent quality across all sides of the workpiece.
For wide-part sanding, the 6000 emerged as the ultimate choice. By incorporating multiple heads with customizable widths and a rough top conveyor belt, Larick Machinery provided woodworkers with a tailored solution to accommodate specific application requirements. The 6000’s ability to handle wide parts with ease and deliver exceptional finishes elevated it to the forefront of the woodworking industry.
Conclusion: The Pillar Machine Acquisition
The story of Larick Machinery is one of perseverance, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in woodworking. What started as a frustration with hand sanding transformed into a journey of discovery, resulting in machines that revolutionized the industry. With each new machine, they reaffirmed their commitment to shaping the future of woodworking, one innovation at a time.
Pillar Machine’s recent acquisition of Larick Machinery marks a significant milestone in the woodworking industry. Larick Machinery’s unwavering dedication to innovation and addressing the needs of woodworkers has resulted in a remarkable lineup of machines that continue to shape the industry.
As Pillar Machine integrates Larick Machinery’s expertise into its operations, woodworking professionals can expect further advancements and continued excellence in innovation. The combination of Pillar Machine’s commitment to excellence and Larick Machinery’s legacy of innovation sets the stage for a future of enhanced productivity, precision, and quality in woodworking.
With each Larick Machine designed to solve specific challenges faced by woodworkers, the possibilities for creative expression and efficient production are boundless. The acquisition of Larick Machinery by Pillar Machine paves the way for a new era in woodworking, empowering professionals to achieve outstanding results while pushing the boundaries of craftsmanship.