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Pfunder Metalwerks: A Steely Determination to Deliver Quality with Creativity

Pfunder Metalwerks, a tailor-made metal manufacturing operation in Sonoma, California has recently installed a Stierli 220 CNC ram bender to expand its creative and innovative production capabilities.

Published on Oct 5, 2021

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With a dozen years of hands-on experience, John Woolworth is driven to build both beauty and quality into his wide range of custom products.

As founder of Pfunder Metalwerks, his tailor-made metal manufacturing operation in Sonoma, California, John is both the creative director and fabricator. He started the metal shop in 2015 after working for another operation in the area. He named the shop Pfunder after a grandfather and intends to respect that heritage with only the best quality products. His pieces grace wineries, restaurants, tech companies, and retail and commercial operations across Northern California. He brings a keen attention to detail that is evident in both in the design and crafting of his projects – ranging from lighting fixtures, tulip table bases, table and bench legs, retail store display cases and shelving, and structural brackets and parts.

That attention to detail and an expectation for quality was behind his recent acquisition of a Stierli 220 CNC horizontal bender for his shop. He researched a variety of bending machine options and decided on the Stierli in part because of its ability to meet his immediate needs – which required a horizontal bending capability. He was seeking a machine with a CNC backstop and the ability to enter in a variety of bend programs. He also saw its potential to expand his business in the region – considering additional tooling from straightening to bending metal bars the hard way.

John was prompted to make the purchase based on a new commission from a commercial property in Fairfield, California. A coffee shop on the property needed tailored tables and corresponding benches for the interior of their retail operation as well as for their outdoor seating. John worked with the property developer to design a beautiful approach for 14 tables and 28 benches that would feature bent steel bases to be topped with slabs made from ipe, a sustainably harvested Brazilian hardwood that weathers fantastically and looks beautiful. “But” John emphatically adds, “I wanted the bottoms to look as beautiful as the tops.”

His solution, sleek 3/8”x 4” steel flat bar sourced from a mill in Seattle, WA, cut, drilled and bent into elegant trapezoids with radius corners to be welded at the center of each top plane. The legs would be fastened into plates in the benches and tables. Each of the 58 bench legs and 36 table legs needed to match perfectly and be bent perfectly to allow for a clean weld and precise hole alignment.

“I am really happy with the results,” John said. “Each of these bench/table legs matches the CAD drawing exactly and the welding edge is aligning perfectly. And I can turn each piece around quickly. The Stierli machine is making this project really efficient. “

Ultimately this is only his first project using the Stierli bending machine. He is excited by the potential it represents. “I am motivated by the complexity of both creative design and manufacturing – I strive to challenge myself.” John continues. “It keeps my mind active. And I believe this new machine will help me bring new ideas and solutions to my customers.”

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