Behind The Design
A new series featuring the amazing people who design and craft all of our Pilates Equipment!
This month we’re showing The Woodshop.
I built my first ash skateboard when I was 10, my first waterbed when I was 15 and, along with Al Harrison, just completed a 20’ wood strip tandem kayak during Covid. When Dan Wilson here at BB asked me to write about our woodshop, I got excited.
It is fair to say that almost everything we build here at Balanced Body is either made from wood or it contains a wood component – and all these components are made here in Sacramento. A few days ago, I was asked the question about which Reformer I like the most and I always go back to the wooden Studio Reformers. Wood has a resonance and an acoustical quality that does not compare to a metal Reformer. Add to that a wood Reformer’s natural beauty, uniqueness, and warmth and you have two very different types of Reformers.
Roughly half of the Reformers BB produces are made of wood. The majority are made of Rock Maple and the rest is either walnut, mahogany, or cherry. All of our lumber comes from suppliers that are Forest Stewardship Council compliant. This means our suppliers adhere to environmentally sound sustainable forest management principles. We choose our lumber for strength, appearance, and sustainability. To achieve this goal, we choose to use slightly smaller boards that decrease waste, usually four at a time, and arrange them so that the grains in each board complement the other three. Re-arraigning grain enhances the stability and strength that are lost in the milling process.
The woodshop Reformer assembly process is fairly complex. First, we select sides, ends, and legs that match in order to create a Reformer “family” of wooded reformer components. Then all of the “family members” are numbered and sent off to assembly. Next, an assembly team of two uses 1/2’’ wood dowels and yellow glue to assemble the four sides of the Reformer. Then the legs are hand-fitted into the bottom of the Reformer frame. The fit is so good that the seam between the leg and frame disappears before using glue!
Then comes the routing (for contours) and rough sanding. Next, it goes through two phases of “fine” sanding, gets a coat of water-soluble varnish, goes back for more fine sanding, and then a second coat of varnish is applied. The Studio Reformer® receives its final woodshop inspection before being sent to the Reformer assembly area.
Our woodshop team is incredible. Each takes their craft very seriously and all of them have the authority to reject a component that comes to them if they don’t deem it worthy. This creates a great sense of accountability since each team member depends on the person ahead of them to do the job right. This chain of inter-dependent relationships results in excellent workmanship – each member knows that they have to make continuous judgments and decisions entirely based on quality throughout the process.
I can honestly say that each member of the Balanced Body woodshop team is better at what they do than I was when I did it. And it makes me proud to tell you that!