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tracy nauman

Good morning.

I have a small shop in northwest Missouri. I am a carpenter by trade. I have done this kind of work my entire life. I took over the family business about 15 years ago with the intention of eventually doing cabinets full time. That has not happened. I still have to do carpentry work to supplement my cabinet shop work. I average $250,000 a year in work. Most jobs I take have either cabinets, trim or some kind of custom woodwork involved. I do mostly remodeling and work by myself or with the help of my daughter or brother when they are able. I make face frame cabinets. I will make the cabinet boxes and do the finishing. Outsource the doors and drawers.

What I am wanting to find out is your guys opinion on outsourcing everything except assembly, finishing and installation. At 50 I really do not think becoming full time cabinet maker is in my best interest. Investing in new equipment to become more productive. Speed and accuracy cost a lot of money. On the other hand, so does shipping cost and the long lead times I am experiencing. There is absolutely no way to add help in this area. Every business owner is begging for help and the help that is available is has so many issues you cannot depend on.

At this time, I am scheduling work into next year. I have raised prices and still cannot keep up. I have even had a customer ask me what would it cost to make them the only name on my list of work.

I have searched the posts on this subject. Most I have found are years old. I would be interested in hearing your opinions and advise on this. Also, could you point me to companies that I could outsource my boxes from? I get doors and drawers from Walzcraft and am very pleased with the quality. I have tried Cabinotch for cabinet boxes. The quality is just not up to what I prefer to provide. I strive to give the customer the best I can and would like to work with the best suppliers.

I have learned so much from this website. I get to my shop every morning at 530 and search this site to try and learn something.

Thank you all for your input and time.

Tracy Nauman

3/11/23       #2: Outsourcing ...

Tracy, I think outsourcing the box components is a good strategy. I would try Conestoga Wood.

We bought some for a renovation in our plant and I thought they were good quality.

Conestoga wood RTA cabinets

3/12/23       #3: Outsourcing ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


How about finding a cabinet shop you like to work with, and just mark up their product?

3/12/23       #4: Outsourcing ...

I was a big fan of outsourcing before retirement. So easy to bid because you are looking at a know cost.

3/12/23       #5: Outsourcing ...


Try B&B door in Jackson Missouri. South. I'm in Columbia Missouri. They deliver. Excellent products. Nice people. Ask for Carla. Holler if you ever get this way

3/12/23       #6: Outsourcing ...
Chippy1987 Member

Tracy, outsourcing the box components is a great option!

3/13/23       #7: Outsourcing ...
tracy nauman Member

Thank you for your responses. I am thinking I need to ask my questions a different way.

First. Is there a company that offers RTA cabinet box components that is superior once assembled? I would prefer they are just as good as I am or better. My experience has been the face frames that come with the order all need to be sanded to finish. They appear to be run through a wide belt 1 time. The cabinet boxes once put together do not fit as good as I like. The joints are not as tight as I want. I assume for ease of assembly?

As far as I know of there is not a cabinet shop in my area that offers the service I am after. Cabinet box components with face frames made. I am 100 miles north of Kansas City and 100 miles south of Omaha Nebraska.

This brings me to my second question. Is there a company that offers what I am after that has high standards? I am talking about the RTA cabinet box components. There absolutely is for doors and drawers. I am not sure about the other.

Now the big question. Should a small shop owner have the mind set to keep the never ending cycle of upgrading his shop going? Or look to outsource it all? I do not consider subbing out the entire cabinet job to another shop an option for me at this point?

I am trying to figure out if I can find a shop with high standards to work with that can make what I offer better for the customer and me or should I stick with doing this myself and keep trying to get better? Buying and learning to use a CNC machine seems much more difficult than finding a shop that will cut my parts. As with everything is comes down to money and how to get the best results and return.

3/13/23       #8: Outsourcing ...

I think Conestoga has high standards and is made domestically. I have very little experience with this, but they will provide stained/Painted finished frames, sides, and whatever else you get with the cabinets. I am not sure of shipping to you but that's certainly a consideration.

I would ask for a sample cabinet from whomever you are considering.
Good Luck.


3/13/23       #9: Outsourcing ...
Bruce H

If you are not happy with what Cabinotch provides my guess is you won't be happy with any of the others unless the price is higher than what you can re-sell it for. How do you think they make money? They employ whatever help is available off the street and make volumes of product. Quality suffers, it's part of what they build.

If you want to build cabinets learn to be efficient. Building face frames, a straight line rip saw and a wide belt sander would be almost minimum. Adding a 4S molder would be faster that wide belting frame parts. Pocket screw assembly for those parts. A frame table would speed that up as well.

Cutting panel products for the boxes you'd want some sort of vertical saw. I just saw a used Striebig go for $600.00. Buy used equipment, great value for the money spent. Everyone want's CNC, used stuff is cheap.

Doing it yourself will give you the quality level wanted, you keep control over what is being built, when and how. I am a small shop (one employee) and not a fan of outsourcing. If you want to talk about it send a direct message with a phone number.

3/14/23       #10: Outsourcing ...
pat gilbert

The default setting of humans is naked and starving the difference between that and today's standard of living was created by trade also known as outsourcing

You may have to go through a few suppliers but that is easier than wearing all the hats in an organization and you will probably make more money

3/18/23       #11: Outsourcing ...


You've referenced your high standards a few times, but have not really specified what that means... there are a LOT of cabinet box companies, with most using CNC for cutting, grooving, line boring, etc.

Comes down to level of assembly and materials... try to be specific about what high standards you're trying to achieve with outsourcing...

3/20/23       #12: Outsourcing ...
tracy nauman Member

Good morning Kap!

First off, I am not familiar with any other cabinet box companies besides Cabinotch. I used them when Columbia Forest Products owned them. I have not used them since it has been bought back. For the most part, it was ok. I did not feel their face frames were of good quality material. I also thought once together the joints on the cabinet boxes needed to be tighter. The only thing I have to compare to is my own work against it.

This brings me to your question and one of mine. I am searching for answers on what direction to take my business. I want to offer the best I can. Is it possible to outsource and provide a 1st class cabinet? I am talking as close to perfect as possible. Or, is that something a guy has to tool up and make happen himself?

Let me ask it this way. Can a guy offer the best with outsourcing, or does he have to invest in his shop and provide it himself? This is where I am at in life at the moment. At 50 what do I do? I own my shop and all the machines. Which is just the bare minimum to get by. Powermatic 66 table saw, 20 inch Delta planer, 12 inch jointer, Delta shaper, Castle pocket hole machine and clamp table, band saw, safety speed cut panel saw, ect.

I am trying to figure out what direction to go from here. Can I get better than I am with outsourcing, or do I have to set up a complete shop?

3/20/23       #13: Outsourcing ...

Are your customers willing to pay for a "perfect" cabinet. Year ago when I started out I thought everything needed to be perfect. I put a lot of extra time into details my customers never noticed or cared about. When I quit dong that I started making money. I build a very good cabinet but it is not perfect.

6/10/23       #14: Outsourcing ...
Joe Folz Member

What don't you like about Cabinotch? I had great luck with there product and KCD. If I ever had trouble they made it right. I have been using from close to there beginning.

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