"Work in Progress," Efficiency, and Profit
Here's a long and somewhat abstract and meandering discussion that still makes some interesting points about how reducing the number of overlapping tasks happening at once can eliminate management headaches and improve productivity. April 20, 2008

Making Money with LEAN Systems
A thread that starts out with a question about stock versus custom cabinetry turns into a lesson in LEAN systems. October 13, 2010

Pricing Cabinet Installation Work
Pros discuss their differing approaches to charging for kitchen and bath cabinet installation work. January 24, 2005

Per-Hour Shop Costs -- and Small Business Overview
Understanding loaded per-hour shop costs and what goes into a business plan. March 12, 2003

Overhead per employee
Adjusting your overhead when you add workers. September 24, 2002

Sustainable forestry
How sustainable forestry relates to the woodworker and consumer demands. June 3, 2003

AutoCAD Drawings, Step by Step
Efficient development of shop drawings. April 18, 2004

Work-Station Shop Organization Systems
Thoughts on a shop setup that involves moving the workpiece from station to station, rather than moving pieces and tools onto and off of a single work bench.May 23, 2011


Establishing a Change-Order Policy
An extended discussion of one of the peskiest issues in custom woodworking: managing customers who want to change their minds. February 6, 2007

Boosting Production and Quality with Lean Methods
Written routines, checklists, cross-training, and creative teamwork all have their place in an effort to improve shop output. August 29, 2011

Finding Good Finishing Help
Tactics for attracting finishers, perhaps the industry's most difficult "get." December 26, 2004

Challenging Issues for Wood Shops
This thread tackles two issues at one time (listing the top issues confronting wood shops, and managing multiple different kinds of work), and beats both into submission. July 30, 2009

Cultivating Initiative and Creativity on the Shop Floor
Here's a thoughtful discussion about how a shop foreman can train his employees how to think for themselves, rather than simply solving problems for them. Also mentioned: how to craft shop SOP's. February 11, 2010

Appliance Cutouts
Standards, and a lack of, for kitchen appliace cutouts. August 7, 2004

Streamlining High-Volume Cabinet Production
Well-organized cabinetmakers share their secrets for labor time efficiency. April 26, 2006

Bail or Stick?
A few communication lapses in the 3-way among a cabinetmaker, a designer, and the customer have given the cab guy itchy feet. This discussion delves deep into how and why jobs go wrong, how to handle communication, and when it's wisest to walk away. February 19, 2008

When a "Designer" Hands You Sketchy Drawings
Advice on structuring the process when a "designer" supplies you with vague, half-baked sketches and asks you to take on the job. November 14, 2014

Scribing cabinets and Z clips
Issues of overhang and attachment are discussed. February 19, 2002

Punch-List Management Strategies
Cabinetmakers discuss ways to streamline the installation punch-out process. May 20, 2009

Ending the Endless Punch List
Good quality control is important, but contracts and business practices should keep punch lists within reasonable limits. October 26, 2012

Speeding Up CNC Router Production
Tips on operation, loading and unloading for efficiency. December 26, 2004

Technology, Process Improvement , and Management in the Woodshop
A long, rich discussion about generating and applying good ideas, motivating and organizing people, choosing and using the right equipment, and keeping things simple in cabinet and furniture production. December 14, 2005

Hardwood Built-In Installations
Hardwood Built-Ins Create Striking Centerpiece. December 3, 2001

Getting Started with Lean Manufacturing
Getting the waste out of your workflow is best done in small steps with quick payoffs especially in the early stages. February 16, 2012

Parametric Drawings
Can parametric design simplify change orders? May 19, 2004

Payment Schedules and Client-Caused Delays
When a client's not ready for delivery on time, it's hard for the cabinetmaker. Contracts should allow for that eventuality. March 26, 2008

Getting Off the Treadmill
Advice for a one-man shop about creating a little free time in your life. April 4, 2011

Comparing Assembly Methods for Euro Cab Construction
Starting with a question about entry-level cabinet assembly, and bypassing a digression about business qualifications, this thread digs deep into the relative advantages of different assembly methods and process systems for a production cabinet shop. April 27, 2011

Communication Between Cabinet Shops About Outsourced Work
A busy cabinetmaker who needs to send work to another shop for cutting on CNC equipment wishes the other shop would meet him halfway on the transfer of information. A debate ensues. January 31, 2012

Who cuts sink holes?
Is this the responsibility of the cabinetmaker or installer? December 17, 2003

Quality and Service Issues with Outsourced Cabinet Doors
A long discussion of how large-volume specialty door companies address occasional defects in the products they ship. March 6, 2008

Metric Versus Imperial
Point oh six of one, half a dozen percent of the other ... February 13, 2013

Out-of-Level Brouhaha
Sparks fly when a cabinet installer goes with the out-of-level house for the sake of appearance. His story sets off a lively exchange of views. October 22, 2005

Mistake-Proofing Cabinet Jobs
Deep thoughts on office, shop, and job-site standard operating procedures that can reduce the human-error factor in cabinet production and installation. April 29, 2010

Terminating a Job in Mid-Project
This story of a job gone sour has a happy ending: The cabinetmaker gets out in good shape by having a good contract and standing his ground. January 13, 2009

Should a Cabinetmaker Agree to Let the Contractor Install Cabinets?
For various reasons, most cabinetmakers prefer to install their own work unless they know and trust the installer. December 2, 2006

Scribing loose end panels
Woodworkers describe the processes they use. April 3, 2002

Communication and Adjustment in Cabinet Installation
Thoughts on assuming or accepting responsibility for measurements on site during installation. February 17, 2011

New Hires and Production Problems
Adding new employees to speed up production can have exactly the opposite effect. Here's a case in point. July 20, 2011

Coping with Customer Foot-Dragging
Case example: dealing with contract and money issues on a custom job when a customer dawdles. December 2, 2006

Three-Way Communications Involving the Client
A woodworker who subcontracts on custom job needs advice on meetings and decisions involving the client. What are the rules of the road on a three-way street? October 25, 2006

Working with "Designers"
In the cabinetmaking and furniture trades, some "designers" bring little to the table beyond a back-of-a-napkin concept sketch. What's good business when handling those jobs? October 17, 2012

Good information equals production excellence
How can you assure that employees have all the information they need to do excellent work? September 26, 2000

Managing Trust and Communication Issues with Clients
A few anecdotes about the interpersonal side of the custom woodworking business. August 12, 2014

Managing Multiple Projects
Shop owners share methods for keeping multipe jobs on track while saving your own sanity. November 10, 2005

How To Work With Designers
Communicate and cooperate, but don't give your expertise away. April 22, 2014

Outsourcing Drafting Work
Contracting outside your company for CAD drawings creates a management challenge. Here's a discussion of how to handle the complications. December 14, 2009

Sample commercial contract
Example of a woodworker's contract for a bid job. January 28, 2002

Adding Floor Space Versus Re-Designing Workflow
A company that's cramped for space may need more room. But consider also the option of re-configuring your work process. July 3, 2006

Is this customer worth the hassle?
The project was complete and paid for in full. Then, the customer requested a "free" change to it. June 7, 2000

Subcontractor Payment Terms in Commercial Work
Getting paid when you're low down on the food change can be a frustrating hassle and a runaround. Here's some general advice and a few relevant anecdotes. July 12, 2012

What Scheduling Software Really Does
Whether you're using pencil and paper, a simple spreadsheet, or an advanced piece of software, a schedule is like a weather forecast: it must be revised frequently to reflect reality in the shop. January 2, 2014

Scribe Rails -- Why Not?
Why are custom shops not including scribe material on backs? August 26, 2004

Managing Customer Indecision
Here's a nice discussion of interpersonal techniques and contract language that keep a customer's inability to make a timely decision from damaging your bottom line. October 2, 2007

Project GC Schedules in Commercial Cabinet Work
Commercial casework builders complain about the way general contractors manage the schedules. July 30, 2009

Layer Names and Line Defaults
Organizing and simplifying layers in CAD. May 19, 2004

High-Volume Cabinet Install Jobs Is It Worth It?
Cabinet installers discuss the potential pitfalls of a 50-kitchen installation contract, and share tips for making a success of it. March 20, 2007

Commercial Work Versus Residential Work
Here's another good thread on the pitfalls of commercial cabinetmaking work. May 28, 2010

Making Time in a Small Shop
A 2-man shop needs to pick up speed. Should they buy tools or revamp their process? March 17, 2005

Managing On-Site Work
Knowing how to handle yourself and your employees on a job site is critical to winning future referrals. 1998.

Components--Not Cabinets
A longtime adherent of the system process of cabinet manufacturing makes his case for componentizing. 1998.

Keeping Tabs on Job Progress as a Sub
The cabinet contractor on a ten-unit project worries that the GC is not keeping him informed about the schedule. August 31, 2009

TOC and Complexity
Is the "Theory of Constraints" of limited practicality because it focuses on simple, linear event chains with the assumption that there is only one limiting constraint? Woodweb goes fractal on the shop floor. November 15, 2010

Late Deliveries and Customer Relations
How do you tell a customer that you're going to miss a delivery date? October 13, 2010

How Long to Build Cabinets?
Cabinetmakers share views on how long a typical cabinet job should take a small shop, and help a colleague figure out why his progress has been slow. April 20, 2008

Production Tips, part one
Part one of three from Woodworking International Magazine, offering proven ideas for increasing efficiency in production shops. 1998.

Analyzing Cabinetmaking Processes to Improve Productivity
Here's a cogent explanation of how breaking your work processes down into detailed small steps can help you save time and labor cost. October 26, 2007

Outsourcing drawings
Positive and negative experiences from those who have hired the job out. October 30, 2002

How Long Does a Kitchen Renovation Take?
A wide-open question sparks an interesting discussion of the factors that can affect scheduling of a kitchen remodel. July 12, 2008

Contracts and Collections
Owning a woodworking business is great, provided you remember it is a business. How to contract carefully, and get paid. 1998.

Milling for shares
Sawyers discuss the practicality and profitability of share-cutting. March 4, 2002

Assertiveness Training for Woodworkers
One in a series, looking at the relationships between woodworking companies and the businesses they deal with. 1998.

Drafting and Project Management
Are drafting and project management separate responsibilities, or is it more efficient to have one skilled person do both? June 8, 2008

Door Panel Tolerances
Sloppy fit : Is the supplier at fault? August 7, 2004

What NOT to expect from your computer -- Unreasonable expectations & wishful thinking
expect as a result of computerization. 1998

New Year's Resolutions -- Or: Leaving a Paper Trail
You can learn a lot from the paperwork a job generates, especially if you're careful to generate plenty of it. 1998.

Biscuits Or Butt Joints
High-quality, high-speed cabinet joinery techniques. October 20, 2004

Whether to Back Out of a Job over Site Conditions
Cabinet installers discuss the contract and management issues involved when you encounter unexpected and troublesome site conditions. May 7, 2007

Titleblock in CAD
How-to instructions for setting up a titleblock for your template. July 24, 2002

Outsourcing Cabinet Boxes to CNC Shops
Outsourcing custom cabinet panel cutting to a CNC shop is a workable system for some businesses. March 18, 2006

Architects and Delay
Thoughts on how to manage the relationship with an architect who is not diligent about staying on schedule. July 30, 2009

Retainage, what is it?
Retainage is defined and a lively discussion ensues. June 6, 2000

Value Added of a CAD Artist
Cabinetmakers and draftsmen consider: is it worth the time and effort to make careful, detailed shop drawings? January 3, 2014

Base cabinet installation
How to cope with wavy floors. April 3, 2002

Profitability of a one man shop
Woodworkers share their experiences making a living on their own. October 24, 2001

Setting Limits for Punch-List Work
Cabinetmakers discuss how to avoid being punch-listed to death, and where to draw the line. April 22, 2014

Value Engineering in Custom Cabinets?
Cabinetmakers discuss ways to shave costs to make and install custom cabinets in a competitive economy. December 24, 2012

To cleat or not to cleat
Does cleating cabinets save installation time and money? April 3, 2002

Moving to Metric
Tips on making the transition as smooth as possible. September 9, 2004

Carpenter to accomplished installer
How do you train a carpenter to become a cabinet and millwork installer? July 9, 2002

Job estimating: How-to
A primer for woodworkers on doing accurate job estimates. June 7, 2000

Make Your Time Count in Production
Ways to reduce wasted time on site in remodeling work. September 22, 2007

Joining boards end to end
What's the best way to do it when creating a 20' oak top? April 2, 2002

The Other Side of Estimating
How good cost accounting keeps your pricing structure 'honest.' 1998.

Bidding Cabinet Work for School Jobs
Supplying cabinets for school construction or renovation projects is a rough business where it's easy for the small competitor to get beat. October 27, 2011

Managing Schedules and Paperwork
Business owners supply tips on tracking job progress and keeping paperwork organized. September 5, 2006

Communicating with Builders about Job Schedules
Advice on how to proactively engage builders who are not effective at time management, scheduling, or communication. November 23, 2012

Should engineers do parts drawings?
Product engineers can draw impressive sketches. But should they be expected to write code? November 15, 2000

Installing cabinets over tile
Tying kicks to a tile floor, and the complications presented by floor-integrated radiant heating. February 19, 2002

What is a Project Manager's Job?
Here's a list of responsibilities for the project manager at one commercial outfit. January 25, 2013

Shop Productivity With a New CNC
It seems more efficient to go on cutting parts manually than to program the CNC... what's missing? October 5, 2004

Keeping Cabinet Assembly Organized
Cabinetmakers discuss ways to keep track of jobs and avoid confusion. November 21, 2006

Frameless Cabinets With Traditional Look
Achieving quality and style with framless construction. April 4, 2004

Digitizing board recommendations
Digitizing drawings that are larger than the tablet. July 24, 2002

Shop Drawing Submittals in Metric
When converting to 32mm construction, should all drawings be done in metric as well? April 18, 2004

Cabinets over outlets and cables
Options for installing over electrical outlets and computer cables. July 9, 2002

Keeping Hinges Organized
Advice on organizing hinge inventory, and making sure the correct hinges get installed. August 15, 2011

Managing Pesky Clients
When clients are living in the home while cabinets are installed, sometimes they take a little too much interest in the work. In this thread, installers suggest tactful ways to deflect their attention eslewhere. October 22, 2005

Doors: Outsourcing vs. in-house
Exploring issues of quality control, efficiency and profitability. November 7, 2001

Selling work despite long lead times
September 26, 2000

Clarifying Architect Specifications for Cabinetry
Here's a good discussion concerning communication about job specs in a complex situation. December 1, 2010

Working for a Home Theater Company
A cabinetmaker got an offer to build all the cabinets for a home theater company. Here are the tips he received on how to size up the opportunity and make the most of it. October 18, 2005

Managing Layout for Mechanicals
Who's responsible for marking the locations of pipes, wires, et cetera during a kitchen remodel? Cabinetmakers discuss the reasons that some will take on managing this problem, and others won't.February 27, 2013

Whether to Take a "Hot Job"
Shop owners discuss the temptations and risks inherent in that one big-money, high-profile job that could put some fat loot in your pocket (but could also disrupt your whole business). April 21, 2011

Time Management After Downsizing
When you lay off your office people, how do you stay on top of all the stuff they used to do? April 13, 2010

Installing Cabinets When Carpet Has Been Laid
Thoughts on how to handle the business and technical problems raised when a GC asks the cabinet installer to follow the carpet installer in the job sequence. August 31, 2009

Estimating drafting time
Charging for time spent on job drawings. January 3, 2003

Installing refrigerator end panels
The search for better methods. April 3, 2002

How Not to Over-Think a Project
A question about filling nail holes for a pre-built fireplace surround prompts some wise thoughts about the effective use of time and brainpower. March 4, 2007

Handling Government Contract Work
Government work is its own strange world, so learn the ropes and be careful. October 8, 2005

Estimating price of CNC projects
Formulas for calculating how much to charge on CNC jobs. January 3, 2001

Sample Subcontractor Agreement
Spelling out the parameters of the work and relationship to avoid legal problems. April 4, 2004

Solid surface fabrication in-house
Should a 30-person shop be subcontracting its solid-surface work or doing it in-house? April 2, 2002

The Purpose of Shop Drawings
Builders often ask for shop drawings when offering a cabinet job in a custom home project. "Paper is still cheaper than wood," notes one pro: Here's an explanation of how the drawings serve the needs of everyone involved. November 11, 2005

Am I charging enough for work?
A woodworker wonders where his profits are. June 7, 2000

Going metric: Pros and cons
Pros and cons of converting to metric measurement in your shop. February 28, 2001

Sequencing Tasks to Optimize Workflow
Quick tips on organizing cabinetmaking tasks for efficiency. February 13, 2013

AWI: A boon to sales?
The effects of AWI membership on sales are discussed. June 7, 2000

Radius of an arc
Formulas for determining the radius of an arc, or "eyebrow"

Calculating a material waste factor
How to determine a wastage factor to be applied when pricing work. November 29, 2000

Lumber drying options and efficiencies
The Wood Doctor's favorite references for making decisions among lumber-drying options. 1998.

Profit Percentages
Here's a long and thoughtful discussion about profit how much is typical in cabinetmaking, and how to go about increasing it. November 23, 2012

Cabinetmaker's Responsibilities
Lively conversation about who should handle plumbing, electrical, etc. on kitchen/bath projects. December 9, 2004

Developing a Cabinet Business
Starting up without large equipment and finance resources. January 28, 2004

Four Case Histories for Smart Specifying
December 4, 2001

Six Sigma Strikes
Are the Six Sigma system requests that a customer makes appropriate? November 3, 2004

Customer Deposits and Payment Schedules
A heartfelt and sometimes heated discussion about setting payment terms, including initial deposits, for a cabinet job. February 27, 2013

When a Job Goes Sour
Expectations were unclear, now the customer is unhappy. What to do? May 4, 2005

Production Tips, part three
Part three of three from Woodworking International Magazine, offering proven ideas for increasing efficiency in production shops. 1998.

Production Tips, part two
Part two of three from Woodworking International Magazine, offering proven ideas for increasing efficiency in production shops. 1998.

Portable sawing rates
Methods for charging, plus more on the business of sawmilling. January 21, 2002

Partnerships and Other Ways to Share Shop Space
The pros and (mostly) cons of partner-run businesses. October 27, 2009

Six Sigma Observations
Principles for developing efficiency in the workshop. November 3, 2004

Furniture Manufacturing to Order -- Wishful Thinking or Reality?
Coordinating the delivery and processing time of serial production with the individuality of made-to-order production. March 18, 2001

Increasing production flow
Presenting to a boss the numbers that prove production flow could be improved. (Business Forum) May 17, 2003

Price sawmilling by the cut?
Pricing by the hour, the board foot and the cut. (From WOODWEB's Sawing and Drying Forum) February 12, 2003

Expanding portable sawmill business
A hard look at the pros and cons of expanding a business. October 9, 2002

Win the Estimating Game
Understanding Costs Means Profit. November 5, 2002

Project manager compensation
A conversation about PM pay grows into a detailed look at the cost of doing business. December 17, 2003

Cost of Estimates
Getting paid for time spent on a job before you know it's yours. April 18, 2004

Creating an installation division
Setting up a special division to install the product your company builds. July 9, 2002

One Man, One Kitchen, How Many Days?
Solo cabinetmakers compare notes on the time it takes them to complete a basic kitchen job. April 26, 2006

Glazing and Distressing: Productivity, Quality, and Pricing
Cabinetmakers and finishers share views on how to estimate and cost out the work involved in distressing and glazing cabinet doors. May 13, 2013

Straight-line vs. gang rip
Which is better suited to this moderate operation? June 24, 2002

Potential of a One-Man Shop
Is it realistic to think a small shop owner can make a decent living? December 9, 2004

Software for Tracking Shop Time and Materials
Business owners discuss spreadsheet and other software solutions for keeping track of job inputs. December 26, 2007

Mulligan Stew: Random Observations -- and Ideas on Management
A bunch of different stuff that owners and managers of woodworking business should think about. 1998.

Installation scheduling
When he can't keep up with the jobs the sales staff hands him, what's an installer to do? June 24, 2001

Ballparks, Estimates, Quotes and Bids -- The Fudge Factor
A newcomer to business gets advice on managing uncertainty in the cost of a job. March 14, 2005

Appropriate job deposits
What percentage of the price on a job is it okay to ask for up front? September 2, 2002

Radius of Convex Wall
Formulas for calculating this measurement. May 19, 2004

From residential to commercial work
What risks are involved when moving into much larger scale jobs? June 4, 2003

10 hour days vs 8 hour days
Pros and cons of working 4 - 10's versus 5 - 8's. August 13, 2002

Murphy's Law in the Shop
Bad things happen to good people. Want to hear about it? January 2, 2012

Time Tracking for Individual Tasks
Various time tracking methods - from time clocks and paper forms to electronic devices which input to a computer. May 10, 2005

Installations in High Rise Residential Buildings
Advice on the ins and outs of installing cabinetry and millwork in the upper stories of a tall building in the city. July 13, 2010

Commercial Work, Payment Terms, and Cash Flow
A commercial millwork shop owner who usually bills weekly considers whether to take on work with monthly billing and possible payment delays. Here's a good discussion about the risks you take when you change the way you do business. November 23, 2012

Fortune Teller: Making More Money in the Wood Industry
Wood Doctor Gene Wengert makes some educated guesses about the near future in the wood products industry, and offers some advice about how wood-based businesses can profit from change. April 15, 2013

Applied wainscot
Creating fake raised panels for the lower portion of walls. April 3, 2002

Consulting Fee for a Retired Cabinetmaker
Coming back to the game to help another cabinetmaker match your work in an existing kitchen ... how should you arrange your compensation? October 25, 2012

Potential Pitfalls of Commercial Trim Jobs
If you're new to commercial work, be careful. Payment schedules can slip, and you can get roped into extra work you hadn't counted on. July 27, 2008

Work diversity -- Good or bad?
Should a new business take on everything from cabinetmaking to house construction? June 6, 2001

Contracts versus cost-plus
Some jobs are impossible to estimate. But don't walk away until you've proposed working on a 'cost-plus' basis. 1998.

Big Monitors for On-Screen Estimating
A discussion of the hardware and software upgrades involved in switching to all-digital (paperless) estimating and takeoffs. April 27, 2011

Investing in Fixer-Uppers
Can you make money buying, updating, and selling fixer-upper properties? Yes, but. Here, some who have tried it share what they've learned. February 17, 2006

Panel Processing Time with and without CNC
A CNC shop and a cabinetmaker using conventional equipment compare the labor time used to cut up and bore an entire kitchen. January 1, 2012

Possible yearly earnings
What kind of sales volume does it take to support a six-figure salary in a two-man shop? May 9, 2001

Cabinet Installation Business Arrangements
A discussion of piece-rate prices, retainage, and other contract provisions for cabinet installation jobs. February 6, 2007

Shop flow
Enhancing efficiency in the workplace by carefully planning shop layout. January 16, 2002

CNC industry pricing
What goes into formulating your pricing system. September 2, 2002

Growing a business
Keeping your mind on what matters in a healthy business, with a nod to Paul Hawken. May 19, 2003

Handling and Installing High-End Appliances
What's the best way to get a heavy, expensive Sub-Zero or Wolf fridge or range off the truck and into the house? Short answer: pay somebody else to do it. January 23, 2014

Dowels: Best for frameless construction?
The case is made (no pun intended) for doweling in frameless cabinet construction. 1998.