Optimizing Materials Versus Speed when Cutting Parts on a Slider

Wasted time is pitted against wasted material. November 30, 2009

I currently use a cutlist program which nests all my parts together, and I cut and label according to the nested layouts. Parts then get stacked in piles of like parts as they come off the slider. I average about 3 sheets per hour using this method.

A second way of cutting the parts would be to rip all like widths, then crosscut all parts. For example, rip all parts for base cabinet sides and bottoms, then crosscut all to the correct width.

My thoughts:
1) Nesting will offer less scrap.
2) Cutting like parts will save trips around the slider to set the rip fence, saving time.
3) Cutting like parts all at the same time will reduce part to part variation.

Just curious on how you are doing it, if you have tried both ways and settled upon a method, if you have another method, or if you have any comments.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
I don't have a slider, just a standard TS. I cut the strips out of all the sheets and label the ends 1, 2, 3... and same with the paperwork. Then I go back and crosscut the strips. I would rather do it with a CNC, if I could afford one.

From the original questioner:
We would all rather a CNC, but for those of us who don't have $100k kicking around, we need to get by with our saws.

From contributor N:
I've never tried the nesting method. How much waste does it really save? I do the latter - rip everything at once, then crosscut all like parts all at the same time. I haven't actually timed it, but I think I do better than three sheets an hour. It seems to me that there would be less to wrap my head around while actually doing the cutting as well - important to some of us. I feel my yield is quite good too; offcuts can usually be made into stretchers and toekicks.

From contributor L:
Most of my kitchens end up around 15 sheets of 3/4". I can cut that up in less than 3 hours. This doesn't include the 1/2" backs which I do towards the end of the job. That also doesn't include the time to nest the plywood, just the actual cutting. I have eCabs nest my plywood.

From contributor F:
Which way to cut would depend on the cost of the material and shop output to me.

If your carcass parts are fairly standardized in width and you are using melamine or even carcass grade plywood, then it would be faster to always rip all the sheet stock first.

Leftovers from your crosscutting operation could be recorded and added to your cutlisting program at the beginning of the next job that uses that same material and thickness.

On the other hand, if you are using a very expensive plywood, then it would make sense to allow your cutlisting program to lay it out for maximum yield. By maximum yield layout I mean that the cutting strategy would make it necessary to alternate between rip and crosscut operations to net the parts from each sheet (nest?).

This also would depend on the output of your particular shop. As a one man shop making a product that varies widely, I use cutlisting strategies that minimize waste and make it necessary to alternate between rip and crosscut (nest?) to net the parts from each sheet.

As contributor L pointed out, it helps to use some sort of numbering system on your layouts and ripping ends to avoid getting lost and confused between rip and crosscut.

From contributor Y:
Back in the olden days when we cut on a slider, we did the rip first. We later added a TigerStop to the rip fence, which saved lots of steps and gave better repeat sizes. Well worth its cost! We use two different optimization programs now. One for the CNC panel saw that just cuts rectangles that don't require any face machining. The cut-lists are just downloaded to the saw from the server, good material savings, and complex program but runs automated off the CAD program. The CAD program makes the code for the router and does the nest layout. These patterns would be impossible to cut on a slider but have a high yield. If you someday decide to go the router method, just for comparison: it takes the router about 6 minutes per sheet to do all the face machining (line bore, hardware holes, back grooves, wiring notches, dowel holes, etc.) and cut the parts out (any shape). We do not have auto load/unload so it takes about 2 minutes for that. The router is actually faster than the panel saw when single sheet cutting. When we have several sheets cut to the same pattern the panel saw cuts them as a stack, much faster. The only thing a person has to sell is their time; make the best use of it. Another big advantage of the automated systems is they are still cutting at the same rate and accuracy at the end of the day as at the start.

From contributor H:
When I had to use a slider I found it easier to cut my sides by height and bottoms by width first. Then cut the parts to depth using any fall off from the bottoms for rails. We always used 4x8 sheets so it was easier to handle and less of a chance for the parts to become out of square. Also, whenever I could get a helper I would have him catch the parts and stack on an A frame cart. Then stack on carts the finished parts accordingly.

From contributor I:
I rip all of my base cabinets, sides and bottoms first, and as I use legs, I get 6 sides per sheet. Then I rip all the uppers. Any long ripped scraps left over become spreaders and nailers. Most large leftovers become shelves. It's amazing to me how little scrap is left over cutting up a kitchen.

Why bother with optimizing? Start with the largest and end with the smallest and don't waste time getting 2 more inches out of scrap. Any un-used larger scraps wait for the next job, and if still not used, they get tossed. Cheaper than moving the stuff around. Plus, it's been paid for by the customer.

I can cut, band and bore a large kitchen in 1 1/2 days using nothing more than my pea-brain.

From contributor R:
I can't afford a CNC either; wish I could. I have been using my Holz-Her 1265 vertical saw since I bought it new back in 1994, and I really enjoy it. Using tip carts, I can position 10 sheets at a time at the end of the saw and simply slide them onto the machine. I rip all the widths first, edgeband and then cross-cut the pieces.

Before the vertical saw was purchased, I used a standard table saw. It was a physical drain to lift and push each sheet through, plus I wasn't getting good square edges and ends.

From contributor B:
I have done both, and ripping first (widest to narrowest) and then crosscutting (longest to shortest) was faster by about 20%. We referred to this as natural optimization.

Optimized Patterns (what you are referring to as nested) typically averaged about 2-4% more yield. My labor savings from natural optimization were far more valuable than the material savings from optimized patterns, not to mention better throughput overall (the parts reached the secondary machining processes sooner).

Material handling is definitely easier with natural optimization.

From contributor L:
Generally there are 3 types of nesting: vertical, horizontal and parts. You would use vertical if you had a panel saw to do your cutting, horizontal to do the parts on a TS and parts if you use a CNC.

Optimizing can save way more than 2-3%. I have been able to beat my program by 2 sheets in a large kitchen. When you are paying $100+ a sheet it can be worth it. But for me to hand optimize a kitchen that size it can take upward to 2 hours, where the computer will do it in less than 10 minutes. So that $200 gets burned up pretty quick and I usually choose to let the machine do it.

From the original questioner:
Well, I just finished 13 sheets in 4 hours this morning. Parts were as they came off the cutlist program... mixed all over the place.

Next kitchen I do, I think I will try ripping all, then cross cutting just to see the difference it actually makes. Waste from the cutlist program was 2 wheelbarrows full. We will see what happens when I rip then crosscut.

Contributor B, I agree, I'm just using $27 per sheet melamine, so if I have to buy an extra sheet to rip then crosscut, I could care less as long as it is faster. Now for the couple sheets of veneered that get used for gables and the like, I could really care less about efficiency, as I am looking for maximum yield here.

From contributor Z:
I also use an optimization program called the Itemizer by R&R Drummond. It maximizes the sheets and I use the rip choice for most kitchens. This allows me to rip most sheets and crosscut after all the sheets are cut. If I pick the "turn all" option, I save a little material, but it isn't worth the extra labour. I also have a Tiger rip fence and can cut 15 sheets/hour by myself with outfeed roll-off carts and a forklift. The Tiger rip fence will pay for itself very quickly in saved time, accuracy and energy.

From contributor D:
I hear all of you say you can't afford a CNC. I can't see how anyone can have a serious production woodshop without a CNC. A good employee costs at least $30K and four of those employees can be outpaced with a $70k CNC and one employee at $40k. A $35K CNC can outpace 2 employees. Seems like penny wise and pound foolish arguments to me!

From contributor L:
Who said we were production shops?

From contributor D:
If you are not a production shop, what are you? Custom does not mean backwards and inefficient. If you are only doing $350k a year in sales a $100k CNC financed for 5 years is a smart move. Debating the best way to cut up plywood on a slider seems backwards to me. Plus you still have to dado, bore for shelf pins, etc. All one step and 5-10 sheets an hour on a CNC and you still get 8-10 minute intervals of free time to handle the materials from the last sheet or oversee your employees as you process your other parts...

From contributor L:
Custom shop. I build cabinets, furniture, doors, entryways, paneling and a lot of other things that are best not done on a CNC. I am a single man custom shop. Some of the things you are forgetting are space constraints, power constraints and peripheral machinery to operate said CNC machine. Not all of us have the money to invest, the space to use or the power requirements to supply the machines.

Although it may be a great investment, you need to have the collateral to invest if you don't have the cash in the bank. I would love to have a CNC, and I could probably buy a low end machine if I really wanted to. But I don't. If I jump in I want one that will work for my future, not the here and now.

From contributor D:

My 8 year old daughter can nest parts, vacuum down material, load program, and hit go so I am sure $10/hr guy can make dadoed parts, raised panels, and just about anything else with a CNC. Plus the nesting is instant and requires no layout afterward. Even if you only get a used machine for $30k, how could you compete with a $10-20k slider? See the video below. She keeps looking at the camera but was totally on her own with no prompting...

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From contributor L:
If I could keep the machine busy 10-12 hours a day I would have one. But I can't; I don't have the work load. It is just not worth the cost. It would still be cool to have one.

From contributor D:
Ours runs 10-12 hours a week and still blows away any conventional method and an employee in 40 hours.

Here is what she made to hang on her bedroom wall. Drew it completely by herself and toolpathed with my pre-saved strategies in Enroute 4.0. She nested it herself in the material that she measured. Of course I resawed the material and planed it for her. It took me months to get to this point. Today's kids that grew up with computers have no trouble with this technology. The same kids would prefer not to work at McDonald's and would probably enjoy working for you.

In these times a CNC is a survival tool. You can't realize the though-put they are capable of until you get one. Even if you are afraid of the technology you can easily find some to run it or learn it in a few months yourself. Old school tools will only increase your costs of production and make it harder for you to survive in the modern market...

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From contributor C:
Is there anyone besides myself that would like to get back to cutting parts without a CNC?

From contributor P:
I think teaching your daughter the trade is a great thing. She is probably a better worker than some guys, so when I saw her working in sandals and no eye or hearing protection, I wanted to pop you in the back of your head. What on earth would make you think that her hearing is not going to be damaged in no time? Hearing protection around a CNC is a must. I would suggest you not letting her work in the shop without boots on her feet. How many times have you dropped things on your feet? You let her stand at the end of the CNC when it was cutting a part? This is not a smart thing to do. I have lost suction on my CNC by not bedding a piece of wood properly and had it punch through a 1/4 tempered piece of glass and bent the back of the metal cabinet. I'm sure you have seen what happens on the table saw when a board gets bound. I hate even thinking of what it might do to your daughter.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm saying this as a father. I have a 5 year old daughter that I let start jobs on my CNC, but I make her dress just like any other person that works for me. Work boots, eye protection, and hearing protection is a must, not a choice. Sears sells head phones for kids. They only cost $20.00. I wish you and your daughter all the best.

From contributor F:
What's backwards is coming into a discussion about cutting plain rectangles and then pushing CNC. The truth is that if you want to say sliders and table saws are wrong, then you should be selling computerized beam saws, which will outperform and outproduce your table model CNC for cutting sheets into rectangles and squares all day long.

I have extensive experience running and programming CNC routers as well as CAD drafting experience and although they are awesome machines, I don't currently have the power to run them in my shop or the cash to buy them.

From contributor Z:
Nice video, but what is she doing in a woodshop in open sandals and no protection from possible flying chips? I think this is dangerous and hope your insurance carrier never sees this film clip.

From contributor D:
I knew I would get the safety discussion when I posted the video. She has hearing protection when she is the shop but was too vane to wear it for the video we made to send grandma. The material she was handling was light so I was not too worried about crushed toes or anything, so I let the sandals slide (it was really hot that Saturday and I actually switched to my sandals too). She is more than aware of the safety rules. I do not let her near any of the saws, or machines that have real potential to harm her. I will not run the ripsaw, tablesaw, or cutoff saw with her in the shop at all. Kickback is far too great a potential with those machines. When she is older she may get to work in the shop when the guys are working but it seems too dangerous to have her there at all when we are in production.

I still think the best way to make repetitious parts out of plywood is with a CNC, and definitely the safest. Absolutely safer than standing in front of a slider all day. If you are only cutting 20-30 sheets a year then maybe not a good investment, but if you are buying whole units of plywood routinely it is the only way to go. I think many old school guys are afraid of the technology and learning curve. The point with the video was that anyone can learn it. I know several shops with sliders sitting in the corner collecting dust since they bought a CNC. They are relics of a bygone day.

From contributor Y:
No way would I go back and give up the CNC.

Beam saw versus router: if the saw is single sheet cutting the router still wins (Schelling versus Komo), even just cutting rectangles! The saw wins if there are repeat patterns that can be stack cut. Material optimization, the router generally wins since cut lines don't have to run "through." There are lots of variables in what we do, so judgment must be used to optimize the entire system. Keeping TOC in mind improves throughput.

From contributor M:
CNC is not always the answer. I build European style cabinets and use a slider. I know for a fact (I used to CNC everything on a 150K router) I can run circles around a nested based CNC operation. It all depends on your product, the size of your shop and the efficiency of your production system.

To answer the original question... First of all, three sheets an hour sounds really bad to me. I think you are pushing the yield too far. Most optimizers have a "yield vs. labor" parameter. I have found that going for the easier to cut patterns (labor saving) makes no difference on large optimizations (10+ sheets) and gives like a 10% to 20% worse yield on smaller runs (under 5 sheets), which is an extra half or whole sheet. I am not guessing on these numbers; the percentage yield is displayed in the optimization report.

I am one of those annoying lean manufacturing zealots, so take this for what it's worth. Unless you are just really slow on the saw, I am guessing the reason you are cutting three sheets per hour is not that it takes that long to cut the parts out. I suspect you are spending a lot of time stacking and sorting the parts while you are cutting. That could easily reduce your productivity by 40% or 50%, especially on a slider where walking around the saw is a big deal.

In my shop we set the optimizer to keep the cabinets nested in order with a maximum of 3 cabinets overlapping a sheet. That means that basically cabinets are coming off the saw together in complete sets with a little mixing of the next two cabinets. This allows us to immediately start assembly because the parts for a given cabinet are all there. So there is never a stack or pile. The parts go straight to the edgebander, then the boring machine, then to final assembly without ever stopping.

In my shop this system requires at least 4 people to run continuously, and with 8 people we can produce 32 cabinets in an 8 hour shift. With 4 people we can finish the average sized kitchen for a condo or smaller home in one shift easily.

I do not know if my system would work for you, but I bet you can improve on how you are handling your parts coming off the saw so as to speed up the cutting.

As for the rip vs. cross cut first vs. full nest? I say eliminate or minimize third phase cuts and rip first. If you rip first you should not have to use the rip fence except once. European shops only use the rip fence for lumber, never for sheet goods. It saves a lot of time if you stay on the slider side of the saw. Also get into the habit of moving the rip fence while the table is in the full out feed position, then pull it back into the locked-for-loading position. Move the flip stops in the same fashion, while the helper is pulling the cut parts. Another tip is to pull the offcut of the first rip (the part on the left of the blade) on to the material stack (it should be just to the left of the saw). Then rotate the "right of the blade" rip so that the good edge is on the cross cut fence.

If you only use the slider (not the rip fence) the first four or five cuts are a lot faster. It goes like this... Head cut (rotate 90), dust cut rip (move the sheet for the first rip using the flip stop that was already set in place before you moved the sheet), rip cut (if there are more rips for 12" upper parts then keep ripping and dropping the rips back onto the sheet stack), crosscut for part lengths, then any third phase cuts for parts as needed.

The rip fence was never used and no piece was ever rotated more than 90 degrees for the next cut. Also all the part rotating can be done after the slider is returned to the starting point where the blade is never in the way! Except for the first rips, all the parts were done on the left side of the blade and everything on the right side was waste. This means you never had to reach across the table except for the first rip. You always pull the offcut onto the slider after the cut is complete. Complete cuts are handed off to the left, not the back of the table. When finishing a part (third phase cuts or end trimming) the rest of the offcut stays on the outfeed table so you can pull it onto the slider when ready. If you are passing finished parts off the outfeed table it interrupts the flow of the cutting pattern. Learning on an American saw where finished parts always go off the back/outfeed table it took me a while to realize that on sliders finished parts come off the slider and go to the left, or over the crosscut fence and onto a holding table where the parts are held for edgebanding.

I could go on but I am not sure if this makes any sense to anyone except me. I will say that there is some debate as to whether to dust cut or head cut first and about some other details. But doing it the way I described one man can cut a sheet faster than a CNC machine and get a better edge for the edgebander. I know that CNC routers can leave a good edge if the right tooling and maintenance is used. I also know that in practice CNC machines leave a less than ideal edge (compression bit lines and fuzzy edges are common issues).

From the original questioner:
Thanks - that was a great post. I am a lone man. My 3 sheets per hour includes loading and unloading the saw, putting little sticky labels on each part, then stacking in separate piles (base sides, upper sides, bottoms, backs, etc). It also includes me taking the odd leak, getting a drink, and answering the phone. I do feel I move at an acceptable speed and maybe faster than some. My reason for this post was not in my work habits, but in my methods. Basically just trying to improve my efficiency.

From contributor C:
Contributor M, I'm relativity new to using a slider so I found your post very helpful. I know what a dust cut is, but what's a head cut? I assume that's a dust cut across the 4' end.

From contributor M:
3 sheets alone is not bad. The real problem for you (I would guess) is what happens after the cutting when you have to sort through the piles. If you can make sense out of how I described the cutting process I think you could speed up considerably. Also you need an offload table on the other side of the crosscut fence when the slide is all the way forward or to the left of the saw. Every finished part should come off the slider at that point so you need to be able to unload the parts without interrupting the next cut. And you should always be able to pull the off cut back onto the slider for the next cut. If you need to load another rip you should be able to reach the next rip (or full sheet) without walking when the slide is in the full back locked position.

CNC is the perfect solution for a one or two man shop that does custom work. But it does take a certain amount of gross sales to make it pay. A lot of small shops have a hard time getting enough work to make it pay. Employees are expensive, that is a fact, but CNC machines do not run for free. Tooling, maintenance, repairs, spoil boards, electricity and cleaning up the machine all have a much higher cost than a typical Euro shop using dowels.

A head cut is a dust cut of the 4 ft. side. Third phase cuts are... when parts require an extra cut to get the width correct from a rip. Something like that!

From the original questioner:
After my parts are cut and in their sorted piles, they get banded, then bored, then on to assembly. It takes me 3 full days to complete a kitchen with ~16 to 20 boxes. That doesn't include doors or moldings... just the boxes with hardware installed (hinge plates and drawer slides). Most of my inefficiencies are real estate related. I just don't have enough of it. I am always trying to get faster while dealing with my space/equipment constraints.

From contributor M:
I shouldn't stir up the pot but it has to be said that claiming a little girl (or an untrained $10/hr employee) can run a CNC machine is just absurd. If you want to convince us that it's working for your company explain the results and numbers you have experienced. Not the usual "CNC is the future" sales pitch.

I am a very tech savvy guy and CNC machines test the limit of my knowledge. What would the little girl do if there was an error in the G-code, a bit breaks (or any of a dozen other things go wrong like walking parts) and the remaining parts have to be re-optimized on the machine controller? How about compensating for material thickness variation across multiple sheets (the CNC's Achilles heel)? CNC machines and the software to run them are very sophisticated and require more skilled rather than less skilled employees.

I probably have the most amazing story here about how CNC transformed my business. I made a ton of money and never even bought one! I outsourced the machining. I ended up having a faster turnaround than the shops with the CNC machine! Today I use European machines and dowel construction because it is faster and more profitable (for me, not for everybody). I will probably buy a CNC feed-through boring machine like the one Gannomat makes to speed up the boring procedure in a year or so.

Anyway, there are a lot of ways to make your business more profitable. Focusing on machines and new technology is one of the least effective ways to do it. Instead look at the processes between the machines. Once the material is delivered a given cabinet spends 90% of its time sitting around and 10% of its time getting worked. Buying expensive machines to reduce the 10% makes no sense when it is usually a lot easier and less expensive to reduce the 90% part. Look at what happens before and after parts are machined; that is where profits are lost.

From contributor Q:
Contributor M, I really appreciate your posts. They are some of the best that I have read for some time.

I have been saving up for a slider saw, line bore, edgebander, etc after trying to build kitchens with a Powermatic and a Festool. Biggest problem is squaring the panels with typical cabinet saw. Realized that the inefficiencies would not let me make a living with my current setup and went back to installing.

Analyzed my installation technique and figured out how to streamline all functions that took too much time. Really tried to have ongoing improvement on technique and behaviors/speed. Sometimes it meant new tools, sometimes a new methodology. Looking internally at all the things that you can control and acting on them/trying them out can yield amazing results.

I have doubled and sometimes tripled what I make in a day by doing very simple things and always looking for a better way. When I get to put my shop together I would like to come buy you lunch and see how I should be using my slider.

From contributor M:
I tell you what... I'll buy lunch and a beer, but you have to by the plane ticket. I am in the Philippines now.

Well, actually I am visiting here in Texas (came to go to the AWFS) for another month.
I would love to hear your ideas and experiences on installing. I had just about given up on installing before I sold my shop. I was still somewhat convinced that "No one could install my cabinets as well as me." But the truth is I never made money installing, and there are very good install crews out there.

From contributor E:
Contributor D, safety doesn't take a holiday or vacation, and it's not vane for videos. If you are going to teach your children or your workers, you must lead by example. If you keep making excuses for not working safely, your kids and employees will learn to use the excuses for not using proper procedures and safety equipment. Please don't take shortcuts on safety!

From contributor K:
Contributor M, I'm new to sliders and am having a hard time getting my head around the procedure you laid out. “Head cut (rotate 90), dust cut rip (move the sheet for the first rip using the flip stop that was already set in place before you moved the sheet), rip cut.” After the dust cut rip, how are you using the flip stop to get an accurate width? If the finished ripped piece is to the right of the blade a flip stop on the cross cut fence would be against the untrimmed edge and would have to include the saw kerf. Not to mention as the panel gets narrower keeping it against the head cut gets tougher. Can you clarify this?

From contributor T:
Great topic! I feel that a company running a slider will have an increasingly difficult time being competitive against a company with a CNC. The effort involved in running a slider vs. CNC, not to mention the speed or accuracy of a CNC, means that there will be a wider and wider spread in costs.

As for the cost for my company's (New CNC) machine, let's just say less than a new pickup. The machine runs under $5.50 per hour on a 5 year lease. By the way, after 5 years, the per hour goes to $0. (Try to hire a guy for that! $5.50 for the first 5 years, then free for life.)

From the original questioner:
I think you are off a little on the $5.50 per hour rate. Take a small shop that only does 20 kitchens per year. That's probably about 200 to 400 sheets per year. Let's say 400.

Now let's assume your fancy CNC will cut 1 sheet every 20 minutes (I know they can do it faster, but let's use 20). That's a total of 134 hours per year your machine will run, or ~11.5 hours per month.

Assume a monthly payment of $500, which is probably low, and you have $43.50 per hour.

The CNC needs to be running all the time to get it down to $5.50 per hour. I know you can increase capacity because now you have the extra speed, but you have to have the sales to increase the capacity, and with the current economy most of us don't have the sales to justify the cost. Maybe one day, but not right now.

From contributor M:
Also the cost for CNC is not going any lower. The 30K machines are bottom line basic. They easily take 20 minutes to machine a complicated pattern. They can cut easy 4 cabinet sides on a sheet in 10 minutes... but so can I on a slider. The accuracy numbers are irrelevant. Simple boring machines are just as accurate and can operate a whole lot faster. Small nested based CNC routers are perfect for small 2 to 5 man shops that do a lot of custom work and do not want to standardize their construction. If you are cranking out 4 or 5 kitchens a week a 30K CNC can't even drill hinge holes fast enough. I am not exaggerating. It would cause a bottleneck.

150+ thousand dollar CNC machines are a different story. They can cut complicated patterns and do all the boring (with dedicated x/y lines boring heads) in 10 to 15 minutes. That is impressive.

From contributor O:
I run a 6 man custom millwork shop and find this very interesting. We are currently shopping for a nesting router and have been through this debate numerous times. We track hours on all our jobs and on standard cabinets we average 1 1/2 hours cut to finished assembly (no finishing included). We use sliders, line boring machine, and either biscuit or screw cabinets together.

We tried outsourcing parts but due to the custom nature of our shop, ever changing materials made this difficult. So we are buying one of those 150k routers. We have many reasons; most have been noted in the previous posts, but for us there is one more. It is becoming increasingly harder to find skilled men who can produce at this rate and quality. We need to free up our skilled men for more complicated higher value work than basic cabinets.

Second reason is I already draw all our job in CV and it is machine ready. We feel we can cut out the time from when I give a guy a set of drawings and cut list and he gets it to the saw with a full understanding of the job. If it is drawn right it will be cut and labeled right... no confusion or miscommunication.

From contributor M:
Are you saying that you can build a whole kitchen in 1.5 hours or one cabinet? Does that include doors? If so, what kind of doors?

From contributor O:
Per cabinet, doors are tracked separately, since wood doors are purchased. They are clipped on after drilling, since all gables are drilled for plates. If you are cutting melamine doors with the job we add 1/2 to the allowance per cabinet.

From contributor M:
Face frames or frameless? It seems that your shop is running slow if it is equipped as I think it is.

I have a slider, 5 station edgebander, three boring machines (one three head , and two 2 head vertical boring machines). Also a hinge machine and dowel gun.

We don't have a case clamp, so we use confirmats to close up the dowelled joints. We also use a hot glue gun to secure the backs in the dado and hold the case square while the dowels dry.

It takes us 30 to 45 minutes to make one cabinet and we can make a cabinet every 10 to 15 minutes. We make our doors on a different line and they are started around 18 hours before so they will meet the cabinets for final assembly. There are usually 6 to 8 guys on the case work line, which include final assembly and stretch wrapping.

CNC is quite possibly a great option for you, but I suspect you can speed up the operation without adding much machinery. Have you ever taken any courses on Lean manufacturing?