Woodworking Business

You are not logged in. [ Login ] Why log in
(NOTE: Login is not required to post)

Are you bleeding money?

Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com

A rough draft of an article I just wrote that pertains to machines and wasting money.

Are you throwing away money?

Skylar (owner of Surf Prep) called me the other day about a potential customer that has two old Ramco wide belt sanding machines for cabinet doors, frames, drawer fronts, and miscellaneous parts. They do the back of the doors on a two head running 120 and 150 cloth belts and the front of the doors with 150, 180, 220 cloth belts. The doors have significant off sets on each corner that must be sanded flat. The customer runs 1000+ parts a day through this set up and they are bleeding money like they have their throat cut. They are using up 5 belts a day and I really mean "using them up." In 20 working days that is 100 belts at $50 each. $5000 a month in abrasives just on these two sanders.

The first words out of my mouth were, "I can't help him." There is nothing I can do for him.

Part of the issue lies in the grit sequence and the rest lies in the poor design and quality of their sanding machines. I could make a list of the machines faults or I could give you a better understanding of the solution. I could spend all kinds of time and tons of money changing the incorrect drum hardness, or fixing the poorly designed hold down rollers, or trying to lock in the jack screws just right, or dealing with the lack of sane adjustments on each head. The real solution is not playing games with machines that, are and always were junk, pretending that they will ever give a really good quality scratch.

The real solution is a brand new, properly designed 3 head sander with a drum, drum, combi-head with paper 80 AO, 120 AO, 180 SC grit sequence taking .030" a side, one pass per side. If you use our stock removal set up you will run those 3 belts for one to two weeks per set. If our belts are the same price then you are looking at $600 per month in total wide belt abrasives. That is an 88% reduction or a savings of $4400 a month. These savings are nothing compared to the absolutely stunning, massive reduction in time on the hand sanding table with a truly beautiful scratch that melts away under the hand sanding orbital like hot butter, or the dramatic increase in color consistency in the stain room, or the huge reduction in down time.

A very good quality entry level 3 head machine cost $45,000 to $50,000. The lease payment on that machine is around $900 to $1000 a month.

The machine is free. What else would you like to use your other $3400 a month for?

"But Adam, I don't want a little entry level 3 head machine. It's not heavy duty enough for my production."

I say, "Okay. Can you afford to bleed out all over the floor why you wait to be able to afford a big, expensive heavy duty wide belt machine?"

What a shop owner might not understand is that rigidity is a function of engineering as much as it is a function of weight. The entry level 3 head wide belt machine is much more rigid than the old dinosaur machines of the past. The drums might be half the size of the Ramco but they are dead shaft and twice as stiff. The shaft does not spin on most modern quality machines and it goes all the way through the drum, and the drum spins around it.

Never mind the fact that all three motors combined on the new machine will only be a little bit more starting amps and running current as one head on the old beater Ramco. You never start all three heads at once so the amp draw would be much, much lower. It would be interesting to calculate the hundreds of dollars a month in electricity the new machine would save over the old one.

That entry level machine might not be heavy duty enough to last forever with this level of production, but now you can afford to replace it with a brand new one every one and a half years with the money you save in abrasives. A smaller machine now might save so much money above and beyond the abrasives and labor that it will pay for a larger machine later.

Let's stop wasting time and money.

Adam West

Surf Prep Abrasives Specialist

1/7/16       #2: Are you bleeding money? ...
Pat Gilbert

Don't forget to mention the labor savings alone will more than make the lease payment.

There are ton of machines up for auction these days as well.

1/7/16       #3: Are you bleeding money? ...
Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com


95% of those machines aren't any better than the crappy Ramco.

1/8/16       #4: Are you bleeding money? ...
Jarin Smoker  Member


What is your preferred brand of sander for a cabinet shop sanding doors and face frames? SCMI? Buttfering? I know the configuration that you like is steel drum first, 60-something durometer on the second drum and then a platen. Which models have this and which entry level sander are you referring to?


1/8/16       #5: Are you bleeding money? ...
Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com


I can't pick a brand or I would anger the other companies. Just make sure it's a dead shaft machine, drum, drum, combi-head. Air exclusion is a big deal.

If the machine has steel hold down rollers or super stiff springs on the avoid it.

1/8/16       #6: Are you bleeding money? ...

If your customer can't control the offsets to less than a few thou, he has bigger problems than the junk sanders.

1/8/16       #7: Are you bleeding money? ...
Pat Gilbert

What is the definition of "offsets"?

1/8/16       #8: Are you bleeding money? ...

Offset: If the face of the stile and rail are not perfectly flush there is an "offset."
It really doesn't matter what machinery is used. Proper setup can easily keep offsets within a few thousands of an inch. greater than that and you have areas that will require the abrasive to become overloaded & damaged or require additional passes or require excessively coarse abrasives. All a total waste due to poor management. The panel will be sanded before assembly and held below the level of the frame.

1/8/16       #9: Are you bleeding money? ...
Pat Gilbert

Thanks Larry. Yes there are more problems in this story. We need to hear from Paul Harvey on this.

1/8/16       #10: Are you bleeding money? ...
Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com

I could write a book about why people do silly things like leaving huge offsets on their doors and frames. The fact that they do such things puts them in the majority of the thousands and thousands of shops I've been to. It does not negate the validity of the article.

If they get rid of the off sets their belt life could be a month.

1/9/16       #11: Are you bleeding money? ...

"But we don't have time to shut it down and tune it up" Or, "It's always been done this way...." Or, god forbid we train and teach precision in machining saves time in the assembly and final prep for the booth

1/9/16       #12: Are you bleeding money? ...
Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com

Many of you went way out of the way to miss the point on this one. I've sanded joints mismatched around .010" and still cut abrasive costs by 90%. The right machine with the right sequence makes a lot of difference.

You will never get your wood and joints so perfect that a 120 grit belt won't struggle to clean it up with good longevity. Coarser belts level better and establish color better with lower pressures.

1/9/16       #13: Are you bleeding money? ...

I wouldn't consider .010" acceptable! Crude!

1/9/16       #14: Are you bleeding money? ...
Adam West  Member

Website: http://www.surfprepsanding.com


That is fine for you. I've been in around 5,000 woodworking shops around the country and parts of Europe. You are probably one in 1,000.

That does not negate the validity of the article. Even with zero offset the principal holds true. There are thousands of shops that are really hurting and it is often an easy solution. Perfect joints are a topic for another thread.

1/9/16       #15: Are you bleeding money? ...

Sorry Adam, I didn't mean to discount the value of a good sander and proper grade selection. I just don't understand why a shop wouldn't have control enough to have good joints. I used to travel fixing equipment. I've been in some pretty big plants that had terrible quality control and didn't even know it. Most had good equipment set up by people that had no clue or didn't care. And management didn't have the knowledge to make it work.

  • Post a Response to this thread
  • Notify me of responses to this thread
  • Subscribe to email updates on this Forum
  • To receive email notification of additions to this forum thread,
    enter your name and email address, and then click the
    "Keep Me Posted" button below.

    Please Note: If you have posted a message or response,
    do not submit this request ... you are already signed up
    to receive notification!

    Your Name:
    E-Mail Address:
    Enter the correct numbers into the field below:

    Date of your Birth:

    Return to top of page

    Buy & Sell Exchanges | Forums | Galleries | Site Map

    FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards (return to top)

  • WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
  • Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
  • A valid email return address must be included with each message.
  • Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
  • Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
  • "Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
  • Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
  • Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
  • Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
  • Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
  • Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
  • Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
  • Comments, questions, or criticisms regarding Forum policies should be directed to WOODWEB's Systems Administrator
    (return to top).

    Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.

    You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.

    WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.

    Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).

    Libel:   Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.

    Improper Decorum:   Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).

    Advertising:   The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).

    Repeated Forum Abuse: Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.

    There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).

    The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)

  • Forum Posting Help
    Your Name The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
    Your Website Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    E-Mail Address Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
    Subject Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
    Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    Thread Related File Uploads Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .MP4 (Image Upload Tips)   If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)