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IPB White Melamine warping after cut?3/1
Does anyone here use 3/4" thick IPB (industrial grade particle board) for cabinet parts on laminate faced cabinets?
Our shop foreman said the reason we "can't" edgeband parts before assembly is because "we can cut a partition out of white melamine, and then hold it up against the fence and watch it bow 1/4" ". He said they have tried to edgeband the parts and then assemble the cabinets, but on a cabinet face, it will line up at the top and bottom, but in the middle it will not line up.
I know I mentioned this in a post a few weeks ago about pre laminated sheet goods, but I thought I might ask again since he mentioned the white melamine to me again this week.
If other shops are edge banding their cabinet parts after cutting and before assembly, it has to work. Either he is exaggerating and it is not bowing that much; he is not trying because he has not seen and been convinced that this method works and will GREATLY speed up production and somehow sees this method as a threat to his position, or there is a big problem with the moisture content of the sheet goods we have been using and we need to switch suppliers.
The shops that are edge banding after cutout, and then assembling your cabinets boxes, are you using something other than IPB core material? He said the MDF core material does not bow like this, but it is more expensive than the IPB core. We use MDF core if the job specs call for it, but otherwise IPB, white melamine interior on cabinets with doors/drawers, and HPL on the finished ends, edges, and faces.
You are overthinking what is an otherwise simple process. If you material is not straight after the first cut then cut it over size and double cut. I will do this for long slender parts and for parts that I simply want to be sure are straight. Pantry ends would be a good example of a two cut part. Long 12" upper cabinet parts are also double cut. Yes it takes more work but in the end it is easier because everything is perfect. I have no idea why you would band after assembly, seems like a PIA to me, but I guess to each his own.
Most PB melamine material I get needs double cut on long parts. For that reason I usually cross cut first and can get away with single cuts. A 12" cut off the edge of a sheet 8' long almost always will not be straight and will need a second cut on two edges to make it straight. MDF isn't perfect either, depends on what level of imperfection you are willing to accept.
I used to have to do that all the time cut oversize to relieve stress, depending on time of year it gets really bad some times. That is one thing that a saw and ptp system has over a nested router, all panels that go to cnc get cut oversize and routed to size before boring, most consistently accurate parts we have ever made.
I have banded all parts before assembly for the last 20 years since starting to build frameless boxes.
Its like face frame vs frameless, some people say "we could never get away with selling frameless around here, our customers would never put up with it" reality is, most of the time customer does not even know the difference and we are just selling what we know and believe ourselves is the only way to go. I would venture to guess that if you took a pole that laminate full panels, cut, band and then assemble is how most shops construct frameless cabinets nowadays.
JAMIE your shop guy needs to come to the realization that there is a reason we all edgeband before assembly. Its so we can make money. There is a reason we all have edge banders. Perhaps he doesn't know how to use one. As for panels being warped after cutting, we all deal with that, we are making cabinets, not rocket parts fore nasa. A skilled craftsman has learned or been taught how to deal with these minor imperfections . Tough love may be in order.
Banding after laminating is the only way to go. That is unless you want to go broke. As for parts that end up with a crooked edge that can be taken care of in several ways. On has already been suggested but I would prefer not to double cut, waste of time. If you are cutting on a slider or vertical there are two approaches. 1. make a near center of panel rip and then make a pass to straighten the edge. 2. I was told that it also works to make a relief cut a couple of feet long about an inch in from the edge. Then you can make a center cut that will be straight, Personally never tried that method. Actually it isn't all that often we get melamine panels that are a problem. For what ever reason it seems to be more likely in the top few sheets of a unit. Saw man is supposed to check the first sheet. If it didn't cut right we have a program on the beam saw that automatically does the middle rip except it leaves it connected at both ends by 6" or so. Then it automatically adjusts the cut pattern to compensate for the loss needed to typically make a straight cut there. It goes back to the first normal cut and finishes out the sheet. At any rate don't buy the BS about banding after assembly. You should be able to set your bander up so almost no hand work is required.
If you have read my other thread I started about using prelaminated sheet goods, you know what position I am in right now. If not, I will give a quick explanation.
My father owns a commercial cabinet shop, has for about 23 years now. I am VP, but it is basically just a title. I came to the realization a few months ago that I need to start focusing more on learning the business vs. just an employee because it will be mine one day.
I am now trying to compile as much information as I can from reading different business books, posting things on forums, etc. so I can have information and facts to back up my ideas for things that I see that need to change in our shop to boost production, and hopefully boosts profits at the same time.
My dad is of the mindset that if something is working, then why bother changing it, even if it would be better because he "works as hard as he wants to, and doesn't want to grow the business any bigger".
I guess I can see more potential in growth and changes than he can right now.
Cutting parts, assembling cabinets, then facing out with laminate is the way they are doing things now. I see this as a huge time waste and money pit for him by the way of labor costs. He always seems to have an excuse of why we can't edge band pre assembly. We don't have a CNC so all the parts are not cut the same, it doesn't line up when two cabinets are next to each other in a row if we do it that way, and the list goes on and on.
Our shop foreman saying it won't work is another big hurdle I need to figure out how to bypass because my dad says that if the foreman has decided it won't work, he will always make it so it wont work. ? I don't understand this because it is my dad who owns the business, not the foreman. If we want to try something a different way, I don't understand why he doesn't just say "this is something that we are going to try out and see how it works". I think if given enough time to do it correctly, then it will work and they will both see the time savings and production increase.
I have learned from my other post that other shops that did not, or still don't have CNC equipment are building cabinets this way, and have been doing so for a long time. We have a nice sliding table saw that they cut the parts out on, and we have a decent edgebander, so I know it can be done.
Sorry to kind of bounce all my frustrations off of everyone here, but it gets to me sometimes when I am the "VP" and suggest things that I have been told by multiple people are good ideas, only to have them "listened" to, but with no further action taken to put those ideas into practice.
I am going to keep working on it and talking to him every chance I get. The responses I have received from my two posts have been great. I know and agree that we are doing things the old way. I want to change that, I just need to convince my dad to try things differently.
My next big goal is to get him to go to IWF in Atlanta in August. Neither of us have been before, and I think it would be a great experience for both of us. Maybe it will let him see just how old his way of doing things is and how far behind all the other shops we really are right now. In the past when we have been offered free trips to trade shows, he doesn't want to go, or doesn't have the time.
I may just have to go by myself this year to prove to him that I am serious about this and really want to make some much needed changes.
Your first bottleneck is the foreman. You have to be able to rip sheet goods and get reliable, straight results.
The entire industry is founded on this.
If he is the barrier, he will either have to change or go.
Challenge the foreman - have him do a demonstration for the sales rep, and show the 1/4" bow to the rep as it happens. If he refuses, you know it is just him. If he agrees, then it is real and the reps problem.
Jamie, I think that you are going to have a harder time changing the culture of the business than the processes. I worked with a company that did some consulting and I was involved in a few that were woodworking related businesses that were wanting to do better. The ones that we had the hardest time getting to even consider an outside point of view were the ones that were still making money. The shops that were going broke were very willing to accept ideas and advice. You are fighting the fact that you are evidently still doing well, so until your Dad and the foreman see for themselves the savings in labor and money you are going to be fighting an uphill battle.
Jamie, I think that you are going to have a harder time changing the culture of the business than the processes.
---I agree with this. Why should they even spend time thinking about changing something that has "worked" for so long?
The way I see it, if a lot of the "better quality cabinet than a lot of shops" stuff is covered up after the cabinets are installed (my dad's own words), then why are we wasting time doing those things?
From asking random people about cabinets and what they would look for if they were buying some, the typical answer is "something that looks nice, and is not going to fall apart" I can see a lot of shortcuts that we could make in the building process that would not cut finished quality, but would cut a lot of labor. I mean, it is a cabinet. It needs to be durable enough to withstand normal use, but not so sturdy that it will hold together if you beat it with a sledge hammer.
The shops that were going broke were very willing to accept ideas and advice.
---- This is something else that I am not sure I have mentioned. He said we made enough money last year to pay all the bills and overhead, but we didn't show much of a profit. But he said we had shown quite a big profit several years ago. My question concerning that is, what happened? What are we doing now, or not doing now that we were then that allowed us to make a lot more money?
I know we are getting beat by other shops on job bids that we have cut profits on because they have automated equipment, and we do not. I know with automation, you can cut and build things in a lot less time. I know my dad knows that too. I don't understand what is holding him back from looking into the purchase of some automated equipment. I know it is quite expensive, and I am sure that is a big part of it. Being afraid of buying something and then not knowing how to use it to its fullest potential. But you have to research and start somewhere. If he is not going to do it, I guess I am going to have to, but it would be a lot easier if he would help me.
I suggest that if you are serious about trying some of your ideas, you need to go out in the shop and try them out after hours so you have first hand knowledge on your machines how it works and what variables are most important to you.
----I would do this, but I have not ever used the sliding table saw, and it has been a long time since I have used the edge bander. I may just have to go try though, or get my dad to come out there with me and us try it together. Something is going to have to change here soon if we want to stay competitive with the other shops in our area.
Where are you located?
-We are in Tyler, Texas, 2 hours east of Dallas, Texas
Are there any friendly shops that you could visit? Might need to be in another region, but could be very worth the trip.
---- I have not visited any shops around here as most of them would consider us "competition". I have talked to a shop owner in Ft Worth about a month ago on the phone, and he answered a lot of questions for me. I have also learned A LOT by asking questions on different forums here. I may look into some other shops around here and see if I can set up some in house meetings.
I am doing everything I can think of right now and trying to learn all I can. This forum has been a great help to me and the different members willingness to answer what are probably simple questions has been wonderful in helping to expand my knowledge of the industry.
Jamie, how old is your Dad? Maybe he is not ready to restart at his age? I started my business based on a cnc router, but I was only comfortable with that because that is what I did the previous 12+ years. If I had to start from scratch and learn a cnc machine I am not sure that I would have tried. There are so many variables that if you are not in it already, you won't know where to start. Then to know that you have thousands of bucks a month going out to pay for it and then add on that you aren't going to get max potential out of it for a long time. It is a huge jump. That is why I think you can possibly compete with the saw and bander. I am basing this opinion on my recollection that you guys do commercial casework, so I may be off.
I think that it will help alot to get hands on in the shop, be careful though if your foreman gets offended easily, he may fight you harder if he doesn't like it.
Another thing to think about is cross training, if only 1 person knows how to run a machine you are in a pickle if they aren't there when you need them, so getting more people trained is usually good.
How do you use the bander at this time, or do you?
My guess is that part of the profit losses are that the other shops got real hungry when things went bad and they got lean and now they are using that to their advantage, also if they survived, they have some smarts.
I think you are on the right track and really need to drill down and figure out your existing process before you do any major changes when they let you try it.
I know that I learn alot when I get to visit other shops, these forums are great but there is a big advantage to being there in person. I would see if you can go visit the Ft Worth shop. Talk to your local machinery dealers, see if there are any shops that will let you come in and check out their machines and check out their processes while you are at it.
You might even post up here and ask if anyone would be open to a visit, you can get to alot of the country pretty cheap from DFW. If you get to IWF, there might be some shops close there that would be willing as well.
Thanks for your responses.
My dad is 62 now. I know he does not want to "restart" this business. He has told me and others many times that this business is as big as he wants it to be, that he works hard enough and doesn't want to work any harder, and that if I want to make it bigger one day, I can.
I just want him to see the potential that this company has to be a lot bigger and produce a lot more, but a lot will have to change here if that will ever become a reality. I guess I am better at thinking bigger than he is right now?
He has been to at least one other local shop several years ago, and we watched them use their CNC for a few minutes. That, and reading a few brochures and watching a few videos is about the extent of his automated equipment knowledge.
I know that the jump from manual to automation will be a big change, and that it is probably difficult to see how it would work when we have been doing things here the way we have for so long. But everyone that uses automation in their shops had to start somewhere.
I think we could definitely improve our production here if we changed the way we do things with our existing equipment. We do have a sliding table saw (Roboland Z320 and an Adwood CEHISA Series 200 Mod.204 Edge bander) I don't know if those are middle range pieces or lower end or what.
They use the saw to cut out all cabinet parts, and the edge bander for door and drawer edges. Then they cover the doors and drawer faces with plastic laminate by hand with a spray rig and then routers, files, etc. Drawer hardware is installed after cabinet assembly. Drawer box hardware is installed after drawers are built by hand, doors are drilled and hardware attached with a Blum hinge machine. Drawer and door pulls are drilled by hand after installation. Too much work that takes too long in my opinion. Use that wasted time to speed up other processes.
They say that the edge bander does not work how it is supposed to. The operator has to hold the piece in place as it goes through because it will kick it out and mess up the band, won't be applied correctly from what they tell me. I need to go out there soon and watch what is going on.
And yes, our shop foreman is easily offended. That is another big issue in our shop. The foreman owner relationship is backwards. He come in to work at like10 pm and leave at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Our shop works M-T 5-3:30 (4, 10 hr days). The shop foreman is not here for a large portion of time that the other employees are. If they have questions about something in the shop, sometimes we don't know the answers, and they have to wait until the next day or week and ask him when he comes back. He doesn't really supervise the other guys much other than "here is a job to cut out, go do it". He is a smart guy and can do good work, but I don't agree with a lot of things he does. he has taught the guys in the shop to depend on him to understand the cut tickets for them (he will draw pictures with a pencil of things like toekicks for cabinets with the sizes on them and side cross sections of counter tops, etc) all this information is printed clearly on the cut tickets that go to our shop, but for what ever reasons, they act dumb and rely on his drawings, which may or may not be completely correct.
I have talked to my dad about our shop foreman and how he is letting the foreman run the business by telling my dad when he will work, what he works on and things like that, but he says he has to "pick his battles" with him so he doesn't make him mad. He also said that he doesn't think the foreman will stick around when his social security benefits start. He is 58 years old now and I think those start at 62 in Texas. I think that 4 more years is too long to "wait" to get things in order the way they need to be. If I was in charge, I would have had a talk with the foreman a LONG time ago when things like this first started. He has let them go on so long, if he did say something, it might cause problems. Not that it would be a bad thing, but it might put us in a bind for a little bit. I think the positive outcome will far out weigh the negative, but it is not my call here.
I talked to our foreman the other day and he said that all the employees are cross trained to do everything so we don't have problems when someone is not here. But I then talked to a few employees this week separately and they said that is not how it is.
The foreman and one other guy are are the only two "allowed" to use the sliding table saw and the edge bander. The foreman is in charge of any kind of specialty work like radius counters and walls that we need to build. He won't let anyone else work on things like that. That is not cross trained in my opinion.
As for profit losses, I do know they we are getting beat on pricing on bids. We may bid a job for say $300,000, another local shop will be $325,000, and another $330,000. Then another shop will come in on the same job and price it at $290,000 and beat everyone. So I know our overall pricing is somewhat competitive, but I am not sure what parts of the bid package are and what parts are not. Just seeing that we get beat on the total price doesn't make it easy to sort things out.
I do realize that I need to know what our existing equipment is capable of doing in order to know what would be a good upgrade. My dad knows about those things more than I do. That is why I want him to go to IWF this year if I get to go. I would really enjoy looking and learning there, but I would not really know what I was looking for.
I have still not mentioned IWF to him yet. I am checking on flight prices and hotel prices. I want to have all the information and totals on paper before I talk to him.
My dad and I are a lot alike, but we think about things differently and may be saying the same thing to each other, but in different ways. This causes us to not understand one another a lot of times and leads to us both being frustrated. It makes doing things together very difficult at times.
My situation is quite complicated and going from where we are now, to where I can see us in the future is a big gap. It is going to take a lot of work to get us there, but I am working on it a step at a time.
Wow, you sure do have alot on your plate to consider.
Back to processes, there was a thread here I think discussing whether it made sense to buy laminate already laid up on a sheet and then cut from that vs doing the individual parts like you are doing. If you weren't in on it you should check it out.