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Solid wood drawers11/29/18
For solid wood drawer sides and ends, do you make your own, or do you buy dimensioned lumber?
If you make your own, plane or re-saw?
We use all solid soft maple at 5/8 thick. All dovetailed in house. All material comes in at 15/16, yielded out on the straight line rip, glued up to maximize sizes then run thru the moulder to get down to thickness. All drawers less than 9" go that way, bigger will go thru the planer, then all get finished in the widebelt. All stock is then racked until it's needed. We generally use only 4 sizes for both rollouts and drawers so that makes stock levels easy to see and decide how much to bring in.
How can one make one building and finishing solid wood dovetail boxes when places like hardware resources sell them so cheap? We would need one if not 2 more guys to keep up with the number of drawers that we buy and thats a lot to add to payroll.
Since we make all high end custom and have the tooling and employees that can make our drawers in house we will continue to do so. Our normal kitchen or house job has around 50 drawers and only takes us around 3 to 4 man days it makes sense to keep it in house.
Simple Ryan, cost analyses. How much are 50 boxes from Hardware Resources vs cost of man hours to produce in house. It may not make sense for a 1 or 2 man shop with manual machines but if you have the equipment it may.
I also make all my own drawer boxes. I can beat prefab box prices every day.
Current kitchen Beech drawer boxes with pre finished Maple ply bottoms.
We got a bunch of Beech at an auction, getting 14mm out of resawing two per board.
I believe if set up properly, it is well worthwhile doing in-house.
So are y'all prefinishing the stock and then cutting to length and running it through the dovetailer? I know that you can get a dovetail machine in the 15-20k range which isn't all that bad.
I don't want my last post to sound like I am coming off rude. I am just trying to think through the cost of doing it.
I can see where is makes since if you are trying to get them in a quicker time frame as it normally takes 2-2.5 weeks from the time we order to get them.
When we run into a small job which isn't normall for us. We normally work in very high end 7,000 plus sqft. homes in a lake community. We will run it by the customer and if they want their cabinet quicker than we can get the boxes in then we will cut prefinished on the cnc and edge band the tops on the boxes.
The material is not prefinished on the rack. We cut the ready blanks to length, dovetail, assemble, sand and fill voids then spray . With where we are located the shipping costs are not good compared to building in house. We also use wormy maple for the material, our customers really like it, most suppliers charge a premium for that yet we don't pay a premium for the raw stock, less than anything else comparable. Plus I don't have to wait 2 weeks for a drawer order.
I haven't found a drawer box company yet that is cost efficient built the way I want them and shipped. For me to build one, material is less than $5 per box and labor is minimal. I get my material 13/16", run though the planer one time to 11/16 and run through wide belt. Cut grooves for bottoms on TS then finish the insides. Dovetail all around (faster than dadoing the back) and assemble with glue and pins (no real need to clamp the boxes). Rout the top edge...sand and finish.
For the guys building them in house, in real time how long does it take to finish the drawer? I would think two coats would be necessary to get a smooth surface be it solvent or WB
Im in Jeff's camp. We buy hard maple s2s SLR1e for cheap. 15/16 plane to thickness, dovetail, and ply bottoms. Dont know about others but our jobs usually have a fair amount of deep pots/pans drawers and I have never had my average number for a job worth of drawers that we've sent out to bid come back a 50 bucks a drawer average. Maybe for shallow silverware drawers but when you start getting into a lot of 6", 9", and deeper, drawers the numbers go way up. We have a good bit less than $10 total in materials in a large box that would probably come in at $100 bucks to bring in including freight. If we cant build a box in-house for $90 bucks after materials we have no business being in business.
I can easily see in a large operation production cabs where your covered up with work outsourcing stuff like this all day long. Our customers however pay a bit more and they have walked out of the shops that outsource everything they touch. They ask specifically what "we" make, and are also interested in the fact that the hardwood in our work comes from entirely within the state.
I absolutely get the material cost aspect of doing them in house, our bottleneck is finishing, and the time of moving them around for drying, scuff sanding etc.. drawers take more room than a vertical rack of doors. Our labor rate is higher due to location and overhead.
I agree with MarkB about the non average drawer. The top line of drawers in a kitchen, ie: 4" tall drawers, are relatively inexpensive to order. But as soon as you get into tall drawers the price skyrockets. I basically build my drawers with Baltic Birch plywood which makes material processing a cinch. I have a manual dovetail machine. As long as the drawer is less than 8" it's two passes per box. Taller than that and I have to do each corner separately.
We do it all of those ways.
Order them when we are busy and can work around the manufacturing/shipping times. As others have noted the big ones are expensive for them to make and ship.
We've got drawer company within an hour who make good cheap drawers. We often use them for wardrobes, vanities.
Most kitchens we've made in 15 years always have huge drawers for this and that. As well as some "interesting" designed drawer liners. We do a lot of library/studies. Likewise these are not typical drawers.
As far as materials. Depending on the project we will use hard white maple or baltic birch. Customer typically makes the call based on cost.
Our finish is MLC wb Agualente. Its got this really cool waxy finish. 2 coats gets the job done. They don't smell like CV or laquer for the next month.
I think you need to go back and look at your numbers.
A large box can easily have 8 1/2 sq ft of material, so depending on your yield, you'll need to add to that number. Now factor in the sq footage for your ply bottom and you're closer to $20-22.
1&2 White hard maple is still over $2 bd ft, especially with the spec you are bringing it in at.
A little low but not by much but of course the size of the box your ballparking has everything to do with it. We dont pay anywhere near $2 a foot for the hard Maple we use on drawer boxes. The last unit we brought in was #1 common, S2S SLR1E-15/16-stain and we pay about $0.88/BF for it. By the time its down to draw box material its clean no-stain. A 7x24x21 box figuring way high is about 5.5BDft figuring taking if from 8" material and an extra half a foot for waste which is ridiculously high puts you at 4.84. Another $6-7 for a domestic bottom, more like $4 if we were running import.
So now Ive given you my rough numbers, so what are your specific numbers for a 7x24x21 box, materials only, and then what would that box cost you to buy in raw, flat?
1C 1&2 White is running $1.60 bd delivered ft in full units. SEL & BET stain is $1.70 delivered. Never priced 1C stain.
7 x 24 x 21" $47 finished and assembled in white HM is what I sell that box for.
As a drawer manufacturer? $47 fully assembled, clear finish, plus shipping?
Yes, I'm a regional manufacturer and have never pursued out of state business.
The reality of drawer boxes is that every major metropolitan area can support an operation like mine.
Before you ask, I'm in Pontiac MI
I get my drawers from Hardware Resource my only gripe with them is they use very little glue in their joints. I got a order once and the joints were coming apart when I got them I had to reglue some. I did call them and complained for what little good that did.