PDF iconALPHACAM Raises Staircase Curtain for Innovative Timberworks Wales


“It was like a curtain being in front of us until 2008. Then we installed ALPHACAM and the curtains opened.” Those are the words of Gerwyn Lloyd, owner of family-run innovative joinery and CNC machining company Timberworks Wales.

“ALPHACAM has become completely indispensable. I can’t imagine a day in the workshop without it.”

In particular it has revolutionised their staircase production process, in conjunction with Staircon. Gerwyn’s wife, Susan, designs their staircases with the Staircon Professional suite, and the file is transferred via AlphaEdit to their uniquely customised Anderson PTP-3013 router. “ALPHACAM nests the stair treads and places the strings and newel posts on the bed,” he says. “It would be almost impossible for us to lay everything out on the bed in conjunction with the laser, without it.”

“It was like a curtain being in front of us until 2008. Then we installed ALPHACAM and the curtains opened”

Gerwyn Lloyd, Owner

The laser he refers to is their SL ProDirector 6, installed above the router after consultation with Martin Measures from ALPHACAM and Derek Coulson from Staircon. The laser uses AlphaEdit to find the toolpaths for the parts, then projects them on to the workpiece below. “As it’s calibrated specifically for the CNC machine we can put any number of parts on the bed. It increased our production by up to 40 per cent almost overnight.”

He says using the laser projector frees them from pinstops and allows small parts to be nested anywhere on the table, optimising toolpaths and running more parts in each nest. “As it accurately shows the toolpath on the bed, we can place smaller blanks with much more precision, saving material costs and reducing off-cut waste disposal costs. Projecting pod locations also greatly reduces the chances of expensive tool and pod collisions.”
The CNC machine itself is another example of Timberworks’ innovation, as it can be used both as a matrix bed and for beam and pod technology. Only having around 1,000 square metres across two floors in their workshop nestling in the hills above Port Talbot, Gerwyn Lloyd says they do not have room for two machines. But as they produce anything from staircases to kitchen units, bedrooms, and board products – along with offering a subcontract CNC machining service to other joinery companies – they need the capability of both cutting techniques. “We adapted the Anderson ourselves, and ALPHACAM is perfect for cutting staircase components, curved windows, and parts such as chair arms, or anything else requiring a lot of tooling.”

The timber used for staircases includes oak, walnut, ash, mahogany and mdf. Once Susan completes the full-scale production drawings using Staircon’s CAD function, the dxf files are exported into ALPHACAM with pre-determined layer names, for machining. “They go straight into a folder specifically for stairs, and I then use a bar code reader to find the individual parts.” CNC programs are generated for individual strings, treads and newels, along with reports for the shop floor.

“The laser uses the same files to project the position on the bed, so we never have any issues with parts being out of place.
“ALPHACAM also gives us a 100 per cent total ability to change anything I need to at the machine, including tooling,” says Gerwyn. “If we’re working with a particularly hard timber I may need to slow the tool speed right down, and I can do it instantly with ALPHACAM.”
It also means they can carry out swift and accurate prototyping, especially for staircases featuring complex turns.

The combination of ALPHACAM and Staircon provided Timberworks Wales with a low cost solution when their previous staircase software was no longer supported. The strategy was to install Staircon as a specialist front-end design and CAD package for staircases. The powerful and versatile ALPHACAM is a generic CAM system, which is also utilised for contracts other than staircases. “For example we recently had an order for 63 coffee tables, and we used ALPHACAM’s nesting facility to put all the parts out for us.”

They stock over 100 cutting tools, frequently used in batches of ten. “We use specific tungsten tools for machining solid timber staircases and windows in a beam and pod operation, with pcd tools for our sheet work on the matrix bed.”  

Around 70 per cent of their work is for South and West Wales, along with London, the South Coast, and now moving into the Midlands. But they are also starting to deliver further afield, as more customers learn about their guaranteed maximum turnaround time of 14 days for every contract, irrespective of the number of components involved. The Lloyds’ son Ifan, daughter Mair, and a nephew, make up the total staff of five.

About the Company

Name: Timberworks Wales

Business: Joinery and CNC Machining

Benefits Achieved

  • Saves material costs and reduces off-cut waste disposal costs
  • Can carry out swift and accurate prototyping
  • Greatly reduces the chances of expensive tool and pod collisions


“It was like a curtain being in front of us until 2008. Then we installed ALPHACAM and the curtains opened”

Gerwyn Lloyd, Owner


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