Trimming Defects in Moulding

Stock manufacturers describe how they control quality in runs of moulding and how they keep track of productivity. April 15, 2013

Okay, so you got a job, a whole house package. All the trim/molding, base, crown, case, etc. A nice job totaling 10 or $12K in a really nice house, material only, no finish or install.

How well are you guys defecting your molding? End splits, snipe, tapered ends only? I know everyone wants a 16' board or piece of trim, but what if a 16' piece of crown or base has 2 knots in it, do you cut them out for shorter pieces of trim? And for door casing, do you try to hit the length increments of the doors? Say, all 8' lengths?

We're spending too much time after the molder, counting, defecting, and wrapping pieces and I need to streamline this. How do you operate?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor S:
For the most part, I am trimming the ends to help with running the millwork through the moulder and if really bad, I will cut back to nearest foot. Otherwise depending on how many pieces of each length, I will figure as 1 foot less or I will send a few extra pieces of each length more than they ask to cover my butt! I hate to get calls because they are short 2 pieces due to them cutting wrong or because I tried to be stingy and sent what they ask for and knew they could be short due to the ends.

From contributor F:
We mark off bad ends with a marker so they can't be used and the customers don't pay for them. It's faster for us than cutting them out.

From contributor D:

We used an upcut saw at the end of the molder and made a "tally-o-meter" to count footage.

Defects were cut out as they came out of the machine and lengths (marked out on a long table) were recorded with a series of counters. One counter was labeled "3," the next was "4" and so on, up to 16 - for length of each piece. If a good 16 came out, the 16' counter was clicked once. A 10' - the 10 counter was clicked. These were all mounted conveniently on a board from left to right. A chart gave totals for 5/10's, and 7/12's and so on.

Once the order was run, we had a total and length of every piece. If we ran for stock/inventory, then we know what we're putting into the bins and could easily determine yield from rough lumber to finish product. The tally-o-meter would be zeroed after each run and we would start up again.

While it took awhile for the off bearer to get up to speed (about 32 f/per minute), once he had it, it worked very well. We knew exactly how much saleable product came out and even shipped a legal tally with all custom orders.

From contributor M:
That is an ongoing battle. We end trim the leading edge going into the moulder to clear grit and end defect. If there is a bad split we cut that out but don't usually trim the tail end. Defect in a long board we cut out and send two shorter lengths. The material is tallied with a wheel and bill for the amount run. We allow for up to 10% overage on our estimates and be sure to tell customers if you want 8' clear you better order 10'.

I know another shop that cuts everything - if you ordered 7', you get seven foot, even if it started as a clear 8'. Of course you paid for 8' in the price. Just their way.

I do know this - if there is a bad defect in a 16' piece, the customer wants a new 16' piece, never mind it yielded a good 8' and 7' piece. If there is an end split in a board the whole piece is no good in their eyes. Point being they wouldn't have minded the shorter pieces but the minute they see a substantial defect, you are the reason they are short material on the entire job.

So what's the right answer? I guess do what works for you, balancing the scale as to minimize the extra work and prevent unhappy customers. Just a side note, we always fight the battle of not ripping poor lumber in the first place - be diligent at the saw and return lumber that doesn't work.