Out of an order of about 35 doors from a well-known door company which was recommended to me on this web site, I got two of these bozos with the designer knot holes (sorry for the glare in the photo). I called the company and, after submitting an email photo of the situation, they promptly sent me two replacements.
I liked that - good customer service. The only problem was that, on one of the replacement doors, there was an alder stave in the glued-up center panel (these were cherry doors). So now what do I do? Call back the door company again? Or do I just try to "tone in" the alder piece in the finishing process? I usually use some burnt umber tinted clear coat to tone cherry anyway, since it has so much color variation if you don't, and customers are known to freak out over color variation.
Anyway, for all you yahoos who sing the praises of outsourcing like an angelic choir whenever the subject comes up, I have never found an alder stave or knot hole in a clear cherry door job I have done myself.
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
I think that this can be a good reason to outsource. If it is wrong, they redo it for free. It clears you of liability. You really have never had a knot show up in a profile that wasn't there before? My guess is that you have, but you rebuilt the door before you shipped the job. Even though the door didn't get rejected, you still had to pay for it twice. This wouldn't happen on an outsourced door.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against outsourcing doors. Heck, I might even try it myself one of these days. But I do agree that some people here make it sound like it's the only option. I make my own doors and drawers and don't have to worry about finding knots or incorrect woods in the panels because I mill everything myself. Maybe that's the advantage of being a small shop. You can build everything in house and still make money.
While many of us have informal agreements with vendors in place where this responsibility is traditional - lumber sawing and drying, delivery companies, maybe even finishers - any outside supplier can become a problem before you even know it. Then it is too late. When the vendor agrees to replace the doors at no cost, then do you get to backcharge them for the lost time, aggravation, phone calls, faxes, e-mailed photos, etc. it takes to remedy the situation? Will they call the customer and make the apology for you? And keep the customer smiling?
I no longer expect to outsource a cabinet door that is ready to seal the minute it comes into my shop. It will need to be sanded, inspected for the occasional glue fingerprint, etc.
Example - current customer expected cabinets as fast as take out food, so I bought the doors. Glass doors came in with the rabbet at one full sixteenth wider than the door company specs. To make it worse, the doors were all 1/16 wider than my order size, which meant I needed to remove even more stock from the width of the doors so that the pairs would clear each other, since I had to lessen my planned overlay amount to keep the edge of the hinge boss from hanging over the too wide rabbet. Since the doors were already three weeks late, I didn't have the luxury of having them make new ones that were correct. I had to fix them myself.
I know many are down on outsourcing. I guess I have just been lucky. I plug them any time I can because I've gotten very good service. Now, they are definitely not $17 a door! The two other local shops I know of who outsource their doors use a company that is closer to us and I have heard they pay about $25 per up to a certain size, but the quality is not nearly what I have gotten from Kendor. Maybe give them a try. I know that they have really helped my business, being able to rely on them. Their lead time is usually 8-10 working days, and doors always arrive the day they say.
As a side note, a local shop has recently started to produce doors and have contacted me about using them. They sent me a sample door. On the back they had routed a "window" to see inside their joints. It is a regular cope/stick joint, but they dowel that joint as well. Ever seen this?
The lightness in color where the pull was seems to indicate that this door was in your shop and in process or installed for a while before someone decided it wasn't up to spec. If doors are QCd upon arrival, that particular door could have been replaced before it was installed.
I have had a good relationship with this company for several years. They have never given me a hard time when I need a door replaced. But I am watching their quality.
Apparently they don't spend a lot of time on inspection, even for replacements! But they do seem to have a policy of giving you a no-hassle replacement when you complain, as if they realize they are a little sloppy in the production process. Like I said, they were quite courteous with me.
The only other defects that the order as a whole had were the usual ones: little shaper chips at some of the corners and edges, some unfilled nail holes, cracks, and pin knots, some glue spots, and a couple of places where there was rough sanding left in the center of glue-up panels where all the grits on their drum sander didn't contact the surface. Just the typical crap, really.
The doors came by special interstate shipper in sturdy, flat cardboard boxes and were not in the least damaged by shipment. Then, about a week after that shipment, a single large door came by UPS (I hadn't yet used the first shipment and didn't realize that one door was missing - but apparently they were on top of it and did notice). This single door had been almost destroyed by UPS, apparently by throwing the box, since the box wasn't the slightest bit crushed or damaged. I glued the door frame back together, which had been broken at the joints.
Compared to other outsourced doors that I've seen in their receiving areas, we have better stock selection, but our finish sanding still isn't quite as nice. As we grow and continue to invest in equipment, that will fall in line, too. Our doors are flat, though! And I have seen a cherry stave in an alder door - glad it wasn't mine!
I have no interest in shipping my doors, so this isn't meant as an advertisement. I like knowing my customers and getting a personal thank-you for putting the occasional rush order through. So I would have to agree that a partnership arrangement with a local supplier might be the best of both worlds. I even have certain styles that I only sell to a specific customer who brought them to me. It has cost me business from "me too" shops, but the relationship is worth it in the long run. $17/SF, maybe!