The success of many vehicles can be traced to not just their mechanical aspects but the aesthetics that comes with them. This is why the use of handcrafting techniques for the interior design of luxury cars still reigns supreme in a time of widespread industrial automation.
Few vehicles embody the above statement like Bentley, the luxury automaker who has consistently delivered pace-setting designs for the automobile industry. Bentley’s success can be traced to its use of hand-built coachbuilding practices which it still maintains to this day.
This is why Bentley says it represents the last bastion of hand-built coachbuilding.
The creative process put into the building of the Bentley Mulsanne highlights its statement. The Mulsanne which takes approximately 2 months to build and assemble, has 50% of its coach built by hand. The hand craftsmanship process takes the craftsmen 7 hours to ensure the inlays for one panel is set right…and the Mulsanne has 33 panels. This means handcrafters spend approximately 230 hours creating the wooden veneer of one Bentley Mulsanne.
Bentley makes use of the sustainable California burr walnut which is gotten from the roots of dying trees. To prep the walnut burr or veneer for use, machines that will make every industry 4.0 disciple proud are used. These automated equipment include a CNC machine, precision lasers, and an advanced woodturning robot.
The precision laser is used to cut the veneer into the required panel shapes while the turning robot creates uniform shapes that serve as the panels. The advanced turning robot is equipped with tens of saws, turning, and cutting tools to execute several tasks. But this is where the use of machines end.
Creating Luxury Through Woodworking
With the Bentley Mulsanne, the hard work starts after the automated machines have been applied to the California walnut burr. The next step involves seasoned handcrafters or woodworkers matching wooden inlays and handling other finishing tasks to ensure the wooden panels are precisely laid and meet the high standards of their customers.
At over $290,000, the Bentley Mulsanne is luxury and the wooden interior is expected to be luxurious. This is why the average craftsman or woodworker puts in over 200 hours across 2 months to achieve perfection.
Although Bentley serves as the epitome of woodworking in the automobile industry, other luxury automakers such as Maserati make use of wooden panels to enhance the aesthetics and feel of their automobiles. This is because the use of natural materials, which is wood in this case, adds a layer of realism and luxury other materials can’t match.
The art of handcrafting in the automobile industry is still very much alive despite the widespread use of automation. This makes the automobile industry a conducive industry for woodworkers looking to extend their considerable talents.
If you are interested in handcrafting or woodworking in the automobile industry, learning the basics of the creative process is a step in the right direction. You can learn more about getting started with woodworking in this comprehensive guide for beginners.