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Thread: Do Pros use rough sawn boards for Kitchen cabinet builds?

  1. #16
    Another who buys RS4S or H&M. Better control of the stock used, less waste in the end. I don't have to deal with twist, cup or bow as I mill it all out when processing.
    As I most often build full face frame, flush doors on leaf hinges, I need FLAT.

  2. #17
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    A mix depends on the task.

    A typical hardwood order consists of.....

    4/4 s3s
    4/4 rough
    5/4 s3s
    5/4 rough
    8/4 rough

    We use what we use task dependent. Face frames can normally be built out of anything other than what is just going straight to the garbage. Yeah time to time on the regular kinda you fight square but if you cut your ff and carcass parts exact matching sizes, stiles/rails carcass sides bottoms and stretchers partions. Then pay attention durning assembly it all glues up square.

    Much of the time 99.9% of our doors are built from s3s or rather s2s and straight lined material. I. Th event of large doors and or large panels we will mill up what we need. Lots of material get thrown away. It’s bad practice for our earth. Imop and I’m a convert that fought tooth and nail it’s really hard if not impsssivle to make money in a comepetative market any other way.

    Milling lumber seems like a minor amount of work and for one thing here or ther it is. But when you mill everything then add to the equation all the other aspects of a built you take to the upteenth degree it adds up to pricing yourself right out of getting the job.

    That’s just my experience I’m sure others may vary as indicated above.

  3. #18
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    Not a pro here but I've been to a bunch of small pro-shops and most now get their cabinet doors from big factories, do the boxes and install, let alone milling lumber. It's just not possible to compete with those big factories. When I was doing my own house I wanted cabinet doors in Walnut but with so many things going I listen to my wife and ordered the doors. What a wise decision. The doors I got (all 144 of them) were flawless in built and I am very fussy and picky. Excellent job in matching the grains too. I did the staining, boxes, and everything else for the cabinets. It would cost me 70% of that just to buy enough lumber and the rate I get from the wholesaler is as good as any other cabinet shop in the area. That was a wise $9k I spent and I can see why so many other shops are doing it.
    It also depends on the market you are at. Spending time milling the lumber means less time for other jobs that could be higher paying. So some set their priorities differently.

  4. #19
    Just thought of something else. The habit of being picky and enjoying work can pay off. One of the last jobs I did before
    retiring was ,I think ,about 20 doors 8 feet tall but narrow. For some kind of closet thing. Boss asked me about laminating
    the stiles and added the client was was real particular. Told him I could ganrantee they would all be straight if he just
    bought North Eastern white pine. He picked up one the first ones ,sighted it and said ,"that's straight alright". Client was
    happy too. The stiles were ,as memory serves, about 1and 3/8" X 2 and 1/2 X 8'
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 03-01-2019 at 7:01 PM.

  5. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Walsh View Post
    Milling lumber seems like a minor amount of work and for one thing here or ther it is. But when you mill everything then add to the equation all the other aspects of a built you take to the upteenth degree it adds up to pricing yourself right out of getting the job.
    Bingo. I can pitch a lot of lumber for what it costs to face joint and surface the amount of lumber we go through. At an average cost of $.57 per minute per employee, that adds up in a hurry. Very few operations in cabinets have the justification for it, or will dictate it's necessity.

    As soon as somebody says that, people think you're whipping up garbage and charging an arm and a leg for it. Roughing parts, facing, surfacing, and sizing is definitely going to get a better product out of lesser material, but I need to make money at this. Most of what you're paying for in cabinets is labor, and you wouldn't be doubling the labor, but you'd be significantly increasing it. If the yield is a few percent lower, so be it.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Wasner View Post
    Bingo. I can pitch a lot of lumber for what it costs to face joint and surface the amount of lumber we go through. At an average cost of $.57 per minute per employee, that adds up in a hurry. Very few operations in cabinets have the justification for it, or will dictate it's necessity.

    As soon as somebody says that, people think you're whipping up garbage and charging an arm and a leg for it. Roughing parts, facing, surfacing, and sizing is definitely going to get a better product out of lesser material, but I need to make money at this. Most of what you're paying for in cabinets is labor, and you wouldn't be doubling the labor, but you'd be significantly increasing it. If the yield is a few percent lower, so be it.
    Lots of interesting replies. Thanks guys!

    I think Martin hit the nail on the head as far as what I was thinking when I started this thread.

    Of course one size doesn’t fit all.
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Wasner View Post
    Bingo. I can pitch a lot of lumber for what it costs to face joint and surface the amount of lumber we go through. At an average cost of $.57 per minute per employee, that adds up in a hurry. Very few operations in cabinets have the justification for it, or will dictate it's necessity.

    As soon as somebody says that, people think you're whipping up garbage and charging an arm and a leg for it. Roughing parts, facing, surfacing, and sizing is definitely going to get a better product out of lesser material, but I need to make money at this. Most of what you're paying for in cabinets is labor, and you wouldn't be doubling the labor, but you'd be significantly increasing it. If the yield is a few percent lower, so be it.
    Couldn't agree more, exactly right.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    Depends on the cabinets in my shop, usually I order with a straight edge and S2S for all things paint grade and lower quality. If it's more expensive, I like to do all the milling. I rarely build whole kitchens though, generally just a custom cabinet built to match what they have, built ins, or customizing something one of the big companies made. The guys who exclusively do cabinets for a living probably have a different approach.
    Kinda where I am at. I do whole kitchens but they are usually over the top or I would not get them. If I was Martin, I would do it his way.

    About 70% the time I order s2s rough planed to 15/16. Then it is clean, or relatively so and save on planer inserts. With stubborn woods like Jatoba I want it in the rough so I can sneak up on the final size myself. I do not find any of my suppliers planers are as good as mine so I prefer to plane it myself just before I produce the parts, leaving it at 15/16 until I am ready to use it. Chips are not a factor, I blow them outside and clean up with a tractor.

    Define Pro. Some would say I am not a pro because I don't have a big enough gross, others would think Martins operation is small, and some who make custom furniture may not look at it the same way as most.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Edgerton View Post

    Define Pro. Some would say I am not a pro because I don't have a big enough gross, others would think Martins operation is small, and some who make custom furniture may not look at it the same way as most.
    Good idea Larry.
    To me me it's anyone who gets paid. Within that there's full time pro and part time pro. Some may work "under the table" and not claim income. I was a full time tax paying cabinetmaker with a side job as a landlord.
    "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right."
    - Henry Ford

  10. #25
    I agree with the pro definition being if its your living. Size/scale isnt really a factor.

    Its always true that every job is different but the surfacing lumber thing seems to me to always come down to the type of work you do, and the margins in the work you do. Unless you have a good profit margin in your day to day work, or your have a massive shop with on-board and in-house sharpening, massive investment in dust collection, which = volume as opposed to margin,there is no way you can surface material in your shop and be profitable as opposed to buying it in dressed at some level. Anyone who has stood in front of a single sided planer for 1MBF of material realizing all the while that when they are through the pile they are a long ways from done will gladly hand you the $0.17 a foot it costs to bring it in where you want it. Same with straight lining if you dont have an SLR. There is no way you can be profitable surfacing your own material unless your doing boutique work.

    Our supplier runs a massive two sided planer that takes dead rough to any thickness we ask in a single pass. All the chips are never handled, they are blown into a hopper and then fed into the boilers that feed the dry kilns. There is no bins, hoppers, tractor trailers to empty and move. Zero. They consider their planer a "roughing" planer with on-board sharpening the material is usable right out of the pack. Even bringing it in skipped at 15/16 is a waste for us when we are working with 4/4 because we've got to take it to size, knicks in the knives, resharp, hauling chips, emptying drums, blowing out filters.

    On high end work with grain matching/sorting/color, interior and exterior doors, thats not your typical "cabinet shop" that other than panel glue ups is working with relatively small parts. For the high end work it makes some sense though even there I'd be letting the big boys take off every bit of material I could and bringing it in with just enough to leave me room. Handling chips is by far the biggest time suck in the shop for me.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Edgerton View Post
    Define Pro. Some would say I am not a pro because I don't have a big enough gross, others would think Martins operation is small, and some who make custom furniture may not look at it the same way as most.
    Don't kid yourself, my business is tiny.

  12. #27
    And as far as defining pro. If it's your profession, you're a pro. Doesn't mean you're any good at your job though.

  13. #28
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    The issue that I see is getting the lumber dry. Air dried is OK and normally takes a year to air dry for 1" rough sawn lumber. If you can have someone kiln dry it, that would be best. I work at a mill where we cut 70,000 bdft of hardwood a day and can dry 350,000 bdft every 7 to 14 days depending on if the lumber can be put in the pre-dryer. When you have a good kiln operator, they know how to minimize the stress in the lumber.

    Some of the new lumber dryers work more like a dehydrator than a kiln. They do a good job. I had 650 bdft of Oak dried this way and made a lot of cabinets for people out of that lumber - no complaints.

    I have air dried maple for 2 years and had success for my work bench in the shop. If you have very low humidity in the house in the winter, that could be an issue with air dried.
    Rich Aldrich

    65 miles SE of Steve Schlumpf.

    "To a pessimist, the glass is half empty; to an optimist, the glass is half full; to an engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be." Unknown author



  14. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Aldrich View Post
    The issue that I see is getting the lumber dry. Air dried is OK and normally takes a year to air dry for 1" rough sawn lumber. If you can have someone kiln dry it, that would be best. I work at a mill where we cut 70,000 bdft of hardwood a day and can dry 350,000 bdft every 7 to 14 days depending on if the lumber can be put in the pre-dryer. When you have a good kiln operator, they know how to minimize the stress in the lumber.

    Some of the new lumber dryers work more like a dehydrator than a kiln. They do a good job. I had 650 bdft of Oak dried this way and made a lot of cabinets for people out of that lumber - no complaints.

    I have air dried maple for 2 years and had success for my work bench in the shop. If you have very low humidity in the house in the winter, that could be an issue with air dried.
    The year per inch rule has been debunked for a a long time. Inch lumber stickered and stacked in a reasonably ventilated area is going to lose all the moisture it can in 6 months or less. Now if your stacking it in the attic of a barn, or some other issues, wrapping it in black plastic, thats different. But the year per inch rule pertains moreso to thick lumber as opposed to 5/4 and 4/4. That said, no air dried lumber, no matter what, can be relied upon as stable for product for sale (other than perhaps some high end furniture work that requires green material for steam bending for instance).

    All of your material if your "in business" should be kiln dried to protect your customer, and protect yourself, against a lawsuit due to bug infestation as well as dimensional stability. You drop a piece of work that was made from 10 year old air dried wood into a modern home that doesnt have high dollar humidification (winter) and dehumidification (summer) and you may likely have some serious headaches.

    A workbench in a shop is a lot different than a $3K 8/4 hard Maple butcher block island. You build something like that out of 50 year old air dried lumber you may need to hang onto your hat.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter gagliardi View Post
    For as long as I have been in business, we have bought almost exclusively rough lumber, and done all the milling ourselves.
    The only exceptions are with exotics , and South American woods, which we have them S2S to get rid of the gravel that is ALWAYS embedded in it.
    It does not take that long to mill stock.
    Peter , how do you mill faces flat? S4S moulder?
    "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right."
    - Henry Ford

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