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Jobbing out stair treads3/11/14
I have an associate who is encouraging me to investigate jobbing out of stair treads or glued up blanks. In particular, I have job calling for 75 pcs plus in rift white oak - 1" thick x 41" x 11-3/4". I've been reluctant --- simply wanting to be on top of quality and color/grain match.
I'd appreciate any opinions or recommendations.
I like doing color and grain match myself. If you sub it out you won't get that. It might be less expensive but...
There are any number of parts that can be purchased for less money either because the quality isn't there or because they pay less for material than you might. I like coming to work, running the machinery and making things. If I bought the parts I would just be a salesman.
The flat stair tread you describe is quite simple if you have the equipment to cut, glue, plane and sand the parts. If so, do it yourself. I just finished a set of house entry doors (4). I am not convinced it was all that profitable but it was fun. I am not all that busy anyway.
That's exactly my inclination, and the way I've always done it. However, in some circumstances and if there were a dependable supplier it might make sense. I have been planning on doing them myself. If I were to job the panel glue-up, I'd need some very meaningful evidence of the quality I was going to get.
This post is all about seeing if this is a viable option for this job or for another time when there's a timing crunch.
Never say never.
Every situation depends on the particulars.
There are plenty of people who will do just a good a job as you (maybe even better), and there are plenty of people out there that will make junk. If you're going to farm it out you have to be willing to find and pay for a good job.
Just realize that, unless your shop is relatively small and inefficient, and the shop you hire is large and efficient, it's going to cost them as much as it will cost you, and then they need to make a profit on top of it. For instance, you buy your material retail, and they buy by the trailer load. You use pipe clamps and titebond and they have a clamp rack with RF gluing. You use a jointer, planer, table saw and router table and they use a moulder.
To me, the bottom line is - if you're busy making money, and you can get someone to make an acceptable product at a price you can mark up, go for it. If you are looking for work, and can make them for less (hard costs) than you can buy them for, make them yourself.
A professional mill shop with the proper setup will blow you away with how fast they can process your treads. Self fed bandsaw for ripping, 5 head moulder for s4s, clamp rack for glue ups. Experienced mill guys have no problem working to whatever standard you specify. No knots, no sap, whatever. You can s4s strips for a typical single flight in less than 1/2 hour in a 5 head moulder.