For those small shops building face frame cabinets and their own doors and drawer fronts, what is your waste percentage in solid wood? Mine seems to run extremely high - around 30%. Any thoughts?
From contributor R:
I don't do face frames, but on my raised panel door and drawer fronts I can get a waste percentage higher than 50% if I have bad luck obtaining stock wider than 4.75 inches. If most of my stock is wider than 4.75", I can get a waste of about 20%. The length of boards is also a major contributor to waste. My ideal length is 12' or longer. Anything less than 9' and I start running into a high waste factor.
My opinion is waste percentage is directly related to luck. I've done jobs where the widest boards I could obtain were under 3.5 inches and that is some waste. There are times when the only material you can get is severely sticker stained and you need to cull all of the ugly out of the material (hickory is notorious for this). This is when you easily pass the 50% waste factor. I sometimes have to buy 300 bf just to obtain 125 bf, so I would say that a 30% waste is not a bad average.
I find there's no way to plan for it, because what the mill sends is the widths I have to work with, as I order stock in random width and length.
In addition, because we moved to fabricating all of our own components and specialty items over the years, we have reduced our waste to less than 1% (this is not a typo) for both hardwoods and ply. Industry average is 15%. We utilize everything...
Can't imagine how you have 50% waste, though... At a minimum, I would donate that much waste to the local school wood shops and write it off as a tax deduction before throwing it away.
If I can remember, he said:
10% waste for end trimming.
10% for ripping.
10% for the tally which is usually in the lumberyard's favor, of course.
10% for defects and if it is cherry or alder or walnut, even more.
This does not take into account if you need larger pieces. Or if the lumberyard slips in pieces that are not on grade.
So yup, 40-50% sounds about right to me, and this is my experience, also.
Contributor R, can't you just plane out your drier stick marks?
I was thinking about getting a cutter for finger joints and finger jointing the pieces that are wide and short and using them for my toe kicks. I would have to say 25% waste is tops for me. I was thinking about s4s to cut down on waste and save time.
Of course, this depends on what you are paying for your lumber. But in our case, as an example, we get FAS oak S3S at $1.99bf. #1 common would be $1.65bf. If your shop rate were $75/hr and we spent 1/2 hour (generous, and assuming you did this all at once and not piece-meal) selecting and cutting out the waste on 100bf for #1 common, it would work out to something like this...
$1.65bf (base price for #1 common)
+ $.38 (1/2 hour labor to select/cut waste)
+ $.83 (50% waste factor)
= $2.86bf total cost
$1.99 FAS (which has minimal processing)
Even if we were to only assume 25% waste, it would still be more than FAS, not including labor.
So, in our case, for what we can get the materials for, it just makes sense to go with the FAS to start with, as any boards we get that we don't like we just send back, which is rare...
Your numbers may be different, not to mention if you factor in going to a mill and selecting the material yourself. Everything has a cost associated with it, and if you factor in these considerations, you may come to a different conclusion.
It works like this: I buy 100 BF of stock. At $3 for FAS I pay $300. At $2 for #1 I pay $200 but I have to sort some of it. Using the 1/2 hr figure at $75/hr, I lose $37.50 in order to save $100. My net savings is $62.50, since that money stays in my bank account. If I use 500 BF per month (I don't), then I save over $300. That's a lot of groceries. This is also why I buy rough and surface it myself. Less initial outlay means someone is paying me for the labor instead of the lumber mill guy who doesn't care what kind of mismatched garbage he ships to me.
1% waste is unrealistic. My saw kerf wastes more than that and that figure doesn't take end checking, edge jointing, and curved offcuts into account either.
I don't believe you are taking into account all of your costs, which are not always apparent unless you really dig, especially if you are surfacing it yourself. As an example (surfacing) - electricity, labor, blades, machinery wear and tear, etc. definitely work out to more than $.05bf, which is what our wholesale distributor charges for surfacing. 5 bucks per 100bf… you can't beat that. It's a no-brainer. These are all real hard numbers/costs that have to be taken into consideration.
Trust me when I tell you we've been through this exercise more than once, and FAS is the way to go. But to each his own - whatever works for you.
Look, we all have our way of doing things, and the advantage of a site like WOODWEB is that we can see things from different perspectives, and sometimes benefit from the light bulb going on over our heads and helping us look at the way we do things from a different perspective. No one has all the answers, but you can use the info any way you wish. As I've said, we make pretty much everything, but as an example of how we have a problem with change... We have done the cost analysis for outsourcing doors multiple times, and no matter how you look at it (except from the pride perspective), it just makes sense, but we can't seem to come to the mindset of making the change.
But taking your numbers:
$3bf for FAS
x $2 per bf for #1 common
= $200 (direct cost)
+ $37.50 (labor value - this 1/2 hour assumed you culled it all at once, obviously higher if you do it piece-meal)
So, in reality, you are only saving $.02bf or $10 per 500bf of lumber, which is most likely eaten up during surfacing. If it is 50% waste, it is costing you even more... Now, here is where the hidden costs and profit opportunity present themselves. While you are expending time, energy and money doing the above, you could be working on another project overlapping your labor (one of the greatest arguments for CNC, in my opinion). Anytime you overlap your labor within a project, you increase your profit, which is why it would be unprofitable to say, make a group of face-frames from start to finish, one-at-a-time vs. doing them all at once.
With regard to 1% waste, in our case, we make pretty much everything we install, and you would be amazed at how much of what is normally considered "waste" can be utilized for different components/products. We've been doing it for a few years now, and it is very doable. Not trying to convince you that we can, but we do.
"...end checking, edge jointing, and curved offcuts..." You'll find you have much less of this with FAS, but even so, all that you list has uses. End-checking can be used to make 1-tier spice racks, stiles between drawer fronts, etc. Curved cut-offs have many uses, including shimming. Point is, most everything you see in the catalogs you can make with your waste. You would be amazed with what you come up with. But again, key here is not one-at-a-time, otherwise it doesn't make sense.
Contributor O, after all this, if you wish to continue the way you are doing it, I still think that if you have that much waste, donate it to your local high school wood shop or vocational school, and take the tax write-off... I bet they would even pick it up.
I find we get about 20% waste. One order I received was 100BF maple that had half the boards at less than 4" wide. I called my salesman and told him to come get it. He now specifies when I place an order nothing under 6". The last order I got had mostly 8" up to 14.5" wide oak.
As they say, time is money and you can only realize that savings if you take the time to figure all your costs, even the time you could have been doing something else productive.
It's still a good idea - reduce the waste stream, do a good deed, etc., but the tax write-off would be double-dipping, and I think the IRS would disallow it.
I would think, though, that you could assert a deduction for the labor to cull and cut the material along with delivery of the material vs. your shop rate, as it is a legitimate expense (assuming it is done during normal business hours). Also, I wonder if you could also deduct the market value vs. cost of goods, as it was product that could have been sold, but was instead donated... Don't know, but I'll be scratching my head for a while...
Since I didn't claim the deduction, I guess I don't know what the IRS would have done, but as far as I was concerned, that was the end of the story.
An accountant would know best, but I am confident that there is a way to take a deduction for the donations, in whatever form.
Comment from contributor A:
I’m my own woodshop and I don’t believe in waste. What little wood I can't use for my project at the time, I put in organized shelves and racks for later use. Anything to small or warped to use (including sawdust) is used for animal bedding or firewood. So I personally think less than a 1% waste factor in everything is most accurate.