Waste Factor in Doormaking

      You gotta make sawdust to make cabinets. But how much sawdust? Here are some views on the ballpark numbers. February 12, 2009

I've recently been hired to manage a millwork shop specializing in residential cabinet doors and drawer fronts. I am inexperienced at the actual "hands on" production of the doors, however I have determined that we have a board foot waste percentage of approximately 32% to 35%. This seems incredibly high. Can anyone tell me if this is the industry norm?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
From net tally raw inbound to a finished product 32-35% seems exceptionally good. At a minimum in any ripping operation you will lose a minimum of 10% even if you have a wide variety of rips you can produce. Adding an additional 22-25% for cutting to size and defect removal and it seems pretty good to me.

From contributor R:
Seems like a very good waste rate to me as well. Why does it seem high to you?

From the original questioner:
We usually figure 50% for custom moldings, a little less for panel doors. That's based on buying a unit of skip planned, random length and width FAS 1face. I'd be really surprised if you really have only 1/3 waste.

From contributor J:
Not sure about the percentage of waste being quoted. Measure and calculate the board footage on your next delivery of wood. See if you are getting what you believe you are.

From contributor W:
We buy the best northern hardwoods available, all in select grades except for sap-heavy woods (cherry, white oak) which have a higher yield when cut from the center of the logs. We have a moveable blade gangrip, tigerstops, and a very experienced crew. Here are the waste factors we came up with:

hard maple - 2.16 sq ft to produce 1 sq ft of door.
red oak - 1.84
paint maple - 1.50
superior/clear alder - 1.80
premium frame/knotty alder - 1.69
white oak - 2.51
walnut - 4.50+

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