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Are you bleeding money?1/7/16
A rough draft of an article I just wrote that pertains to machines and wasting money.
Are you throwing away money?
Skylar (owner of Surf Prep) called me the other day about a potential customer that has two old Ramco wide belt sanding machines for cabinet doors, frames, drawer fronts, and miscellaneous parts. They do the back of the doors on a two head running 120 and 150 cloth belts and the front of the doors with 150, 180, 220 cloth belts. The doors have significant off sets on each corner that must be sanded flat. The customer runs 1000+ parts a day through this set up and they are bleeding money like they have their throat cut. They are using up 5 belts a day and I really mean "using them up." In 20 working days that is 100 belts at $50 each. $5000 a month in abrasives just on these two sanders.
The first words out of my mouth were, "I can't help him." There is nothing I can do for him.
Part of the issue lies in the grit sequence and the rest lies in the poor design and quality of their sanding machines. I could make a list of the machines faults or I could give you a better understanding of the solution. I could spend all kinds of time and tons of money changing the incorrect drum hardness, or fixing the poorly designed hold down rollers, or trying to lock in the jack screws just right, or dealing with the lack of sane adjustments on each head. The real solution is not playing games with machines that, are and always were junk, pretending that they will ever give a really good quality scratch.
The real solution is a brand new, properly designed 3 head sander with a drum, drum, combi-head with paper 80 AO, 120 AO, 180 SC grit sequence taking .030" a side, one pass per side. If you use our stock removal set up you will run those 3 belts for one to two weeks per set. If our belts are the same price then you are looking at $600 per month in total wide belt abrasives. That is an 88% reduction or a savings of $4400 a month. These savings are nothing compared to the absolutely stunning, massive reduction in time on the hand sanding table with a truly beautiful scratch that melts away under the hand sanding orbital like hot butter, or the dramatic increase in color consistency in the stain room, or the huge reduction in down time.
A very good quality entry level 3 head machine cost $45,000 to $50,000. The lease payment on that machine is around $900 to $1000 a month.
The machine is free. What else would you like to use your other $3400 a month for?
"But Adam, I don't want a little entry level 3 head machine. It's not heavy duty enough for my production."
I say, "Okay. Can you afford to bleed out all over the floor why you wait to be able to afford a big, expensive heavy duty wide belt machine?"
What a shop owner might not understand is that rigidity is a function of engineering as much as it is a function of weight. The entry level 3 head wide belt machine is much more rigid than the old dinosaur machines of the past. The drums might be half the size of the Ramco but they are dead shaft and twice as stiff. The shaft does not spin on most modern quality machines and it goes all the way through the drum, and the drum spins around it.
Never mind the fact that all three motors combined on the new machine will only be a little bit more starting amps and running current as one head on the old beater Ramco. You never start all three heads at once so the amp draw would be much, much lower. It would be interesting to calculate the hundreds of dollars a month in electricity the new machine would save over the old one.
That entry level machine might not be heavy duty enough to last forever with this level of production, but now you can afford to replace it with a brand new one every one and a half years with the money you save in abrasives. A smaller machine now might save so much money above and beyond the abrasives and labor that it will pay for a larger machine later.
Let's stop wasting time and money.
Surf Prep Abrasives Specialist
Don't forget to mention the labor savings alone will more than make the lease payment.
There are ton of machines up for auction these days as well.
95% of those machines aren't any better than the crappy Ramco.
What is your preferred brand of sander for a cabinet shop sanding doors and face frames? SCMI? Buttfering? I know the configuration that you like is steel drum first, 60-something durometer on the second drum and then a platen. Which models have this and which entry level sander are you referring to?
I can't pick a brand or I would anger the other companies. Just make sure it's a dead shaft machine, drum, drum, combi-head. Air exclusion is a big deal.
If the machine has steel hold down rollers or super stiff springs on the avoid it.
If your customer can't control the offsets to less than a few thou, he has bigger problems than the junk sanders.
What is the definition of "offsets"?
Offset: If the face of the stile and rail are not perfectly flush there is an "offset."
Thanks Larry. Yes there are more problems in this story. We need to hear from Paul Harvey on this.
I could write a book about why people do silly things like leaving huge offsets on their doors and frames. The fact that they do such things puts them in the majority of the thousands and thousands of shops I've been to. It does not negate the validity of the article.
If they get rid of the off sets their belt life could be a month.
"But we don't have time to shut it down and tune it up" Or, "It's always been done this way...." Or, god forbid we train and teach precision in machining saves time in the assembly and final prep for the booth
Many of you went way out of the way to miss the point on this one. I've sanded joints mismatched around .010" and still cut abrasive costs by 90%. The right machine with the right sequence makes a lot of difference.
You will never get your wood and joints so perfect that a 120 grit belt won't struggle to clean it up with good longevity. Coarser belts level better and establish color better with lower pressures.
I wouldn't consider .010" acceptable! Crude!
That is fine for you. I've been in around 5,000 woodworking shops around the country and parts of Europe. You are probably one in 1,000.
That does not negate the validity of the article. Even with zero offset the principal holds true. There are thousands of shops that are really hurting and it is often an easy solution. Perfect joints are a topic for another thread.
Sorry Adam, I didn't mean to discount the value of a good sander and proper grade selection. I just don't understand why a shop wouldn't have control enough to have good joints. I used to travel fixing equipment. I've been in some pretty big plants that had terrible quality control and didn't even know it. Most had good equipment set up by people that had no clue or didn't care. And management didn't have the knowledge to make it work.