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Cabinet door production time

Tracy Yarborough  Member

For those of you that produce cabinet doors on a regular basis, how long does it take you to make an all wood, raised panel door with edges from start to finish? No mdf, no shaker 1/4" flat panels....all wood glued center panel with cope/stick stile and rail construction. I'm looking for an average time per door over a set of doors. Do not include any time for office work (computing parts, invoicing, etc.). I'm looking for just production time from the time your list hits the production area until the door is finish sanded and stacked for pick-up/delivery.
I'm checking to see how my production time compares with other shops.

2/1/18       #2: Cabinet door production time ...
Leo G Member

I don't have a line or anything. Just a single man shop. But I do have 3 shapers setup to do the doors.

I figure about an hour per door, but that does include me figuring out the parts list. This is for doing doors and drawer fronts in a full kitchen of about 31 doors.

As a note, I don't have a widebelt sander so the sanding portion does take longer.

2/2/18       #3: Cabinet door production time ...

We use one hour. Door only, no hinge pocket, no finish.We use two shapers and addition to coped rails we use one 3/8" dowel/joint (done on a horizontal boring machine)

2/2/18       #4: Cabinet door production time ...

It would be helpful to know what equipment you guys are running to get those times.

A shop with slr, moulder, rotary door clamp, and 3 head widebelt should be significantly faster then a guy with a table saw, shaper, and pipe clamps.

Tracy, I am curious what your production time is?

2/3/18       #6: Cabinet door production time ...
keith farr

if I just walked in by myself ( no help) and needed one door - about 15- 18 minutes. Thats saying the desired cope and stick and door edge cutter was allready set up. If not add another two minutes. That from allready planed lumber in the pile to finished sanded . With all my regular door guys at their stations and a multi door list per door time would come way down

2/3/18       #7: Cabinet door production time ...
Tracy Yarborough  Member

I'm running about 30 mins per door.

2 men running the following processes:
13/16 slr1edge lumber, glue line ripsawed to 2 5/8 wide. Panel parts cut 1" oversized with chop saw and tiger sawstop. Glued up on a doucet clamp carrier,(glue applied with brush from bucket - we've tried glue pots and glue rollers, our best time is with the brush & bucket). Stiles and rails cut to length on same chop saw with electronic sawstop. Stiles and rails shaped and coped on dedicated shapers (unique 250 for coped ends and arched parts - scmi t110 with powerfeed for rails). Panels removed from clamps, planed flat (single sided 20" planer - min 2 passes), wide belt sanded (150G min 2 passes), then ran through a shape and sand for profiling. All parts are assembled in a doucet door clamp. Then ran through the widebelt as a finished door (again, 150 grit min 2 passes, usually 3), trimmed on the sliding panel saw for squaring to final dimensions, edge profiled (on shape and sand) or edge sanded on vega oscillating edge sander - depending on edge profile. Then putty applied if necessary to any minute open joint or cracks, then random orbit sanded to remove cross grain scratches, soften edges, and finish sand.

I'm trying to identify bottlenecks and overlaps. We are currently using batch methods, but have been looking at one piece production methods that look promising.
My goal is to get to a comfortable 20 min per door mark without burning out my guys.
Thanks for all responses.

2/3/18       #8: Cabinet door production time ...
Mark B Member

We are a super small shop in comparison but with larger batches we can cut time dramatically. I dont think we are anywhere near 1 hour per door though I havent timed it specifically because it seems batch size affects time drastically for small shop.

We have been trying to move towards one piece flow as well but it can seem to be a major issue in small shops where re-tooling/setups are in the mix.

As stated in Tracy's reply as well, what material (grade in addition to surfacing/edging) is a major factor in the time line. For instance our suppliers sell miles of lower grade material to larger shops who internally grade and sort out various grade from larger low grade packs. We are simply too small to do this (though we do in certain areas like drawer material where we make a LOT of additional profit). We opt to buy packs of higher grade material (if we are in a time crunch it may even be FAS) where we can simply take any board from the pack and move it straight into production. This is of course on standard work where no fussy grain matching is required.

The whole one piece flow thing is very interesting and we are trying it quite a bit but it seems, at least to me, that it works much better in heavy-ish production environments as opposed to small operations. For instance there is simply no way I would be faster process, breaking down parts, and completing a single door as opposed to breaking down sticking in long lengths, breaking down panel material in long lengths, and batch processing parts gluing up many doors at a time in the rack. If I stationed single parts and came out with one door (using overlapping stations with guys covering multiple stations simultaneously) we would be making far less doors per day.

2/3/18       #9: Cabinet door production time ...

Mark, One pc. processing is a great idea but either requires no setup changes or lightening fast changes. If you are using shapers, you can reduce change over times by stack tooling on a spindle. It doesn't require digital readouts or CNC. Just dedicated height gages, preferably adjustable metal ones. Use inserted tooling so it is always the same size. I like to run to an outside fence so parts are always the same width, power fed of course. Use a metal fence with built in clamping. You can attach swing arms to the side of the shaper table with multiple notches or pin holes to locate the fence. I like to locate the center of the swing arms at the CL of the spindle. There are other ways of locating the fence that work just as well. They just need some fixed reference points. The miter gauge slot works also. At any rate, use the KISS principle. Make as much of it as visible as possible. The use of color coding can reduce stupid mistakes. Paint the tooling to match the ht. gage, etc. Set the tooling surface next to the ht. gage. You finger is accurate to better than .002" in feel. Eliminate all measuring, test cutting etc. For initial setups it is worth it to have some adjustability on your gages, then lock them tight. Get help from a machine shop if you need it. Give them a good drawing of what you are trying to accomplish. Most can maintain .001" accuracy very easily. I have a metal lathe and milling machine, with DROs, which helps sometimes. A CNC router can also be used to accurately cut aluminum, but AL is pretty soft for use as a gage. You can buy magnetic bases (like used to hold dial indicators) for your gages so they stay flat to the table. Nice because you can turn the magnet on & off with the switch.

2/9/18       #10: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


This thread got me curious how long it actually takes to build a cabinet door, so I made a little video. I know you said no shaker, but didn't feel like changing cutters or gluing up a panel for this. There's a hotlink at the bottom as well. I have no idea how to embed video on woodweb.

As of 8:32 central, it's still uploading. YouTube is being a little slow for some reason.

Our process is as follows.

If raised panel, we start with the panels as you run out of clamp space with only 12' of clamp rack if you've got a bunch of doors, and you can be doing other stuff while glue is drying. We do joint everything for panels and we run our panels at 5/8" so they go through the planer twice, and through the widebelt twice before getting cut down to size and getting the profile machined in. We glue them up 1" long, and try to get around 1" oversized in width. We have a shaper dedicated to panel raising using a four wheel powerfeeder, and a continuous fence under the cutter. The cutter is a four wing carbide insert head from Dimensions in Tooling. I want to say it's spinning at 4500 rpm with a 17fpm feed rate.

I'd venture to guess that a raised panel would add another ten minutes to the construction of a door. Way more if it's just a single I'd bet. We started using a Dynabrade sander for the panel profile, it works alright. I'm confident there's no awesome way to sand those, but it's the best tactic I've used yet. The sanding is pretty minimal with that four wing, and the shaper is a tank that runs true so the cut is very nice.

For the door frame, we rip on the SLR an 1/8"+ oversized. Do our sticking cut first removing a 1/16", and then finish getting them to size with a straight cutter stacked underneath the sticking cutter. I shoot for the door being .040" oversized once assembled whether that is inset or overlay to allow sizing and/or fitment. If I want 2-1/4" sticking, we machine it at 2.270"
(If the job has paneled ends, we typically leave the stiles for those a 1/16" oversized so the panel is an 1/8" big. We pull the least straight material out for paneled ends before getting the rest of the door sticking down to size)

After the sticking is made we sort the material usually into five piles
1. Awesome
2. Good
3. Meh
4. Wow, not so good
5. Yikes.
Rails and stiles are cut on a pop up saw with a 10' Tigerstop. We do the largest stiles first out of the "awesome" stack and work our way through the material going down the list. With paneled drawer fronts, we generally work from the bottom of the pile up. If it's wonky, the dovetail drawer box will pull everything straight and it's no problem. Ideally on a decent sized batch you've got a few sticks of "good" and "meh" left over. If you don't and run short, there's usually some in the rack from the last run.

After cutting stiles and rails to length, the rails get coped. Currently we're using a pair of Powermatic 27 shapers for this task. With shaker style, you can use a square backer on both faces to prevent blow out. That doesn't work with anything other than a square profile, so we do left and right copers that are parked right next to one another for anything that has a profile. The long term plan is to replace those two hunks of garbage with a PMK coper, where you can do two single sided parts at once, and they act as a backer for one another. That should add some speed and take the operator out of the equation for the machining aspect. Some guys just can't cope it seems. Being that the other coper is right there, I don't think it adds much time moving to that one.

Assuming panels are ready to go doors are assembled. We use a Unique Machine brand peg style door clamp that I'm not real impressed with. Looking at replacing it this year with a JLT rotary clamp. The door in the video has some loose joints because that clamp just won't mash stuff together. To be fair, my fitment might be a twinge tight. Normally if I'm just doing a single like that, I'll pipe clamp it and walk away and do something else for 20 minutes while it sets up. In my old shop, the old compressor ran at a pretty high pressure, in here at the new shop, I don't go over 125psi, and that clamp's performance has just gotten worse because of it.

After assembly they go through the widebelt. We use a two head, with a combo head on the last head. One pass per face using 120g and 180g. It beats the snot out of the abrasives but it does leave a good scratch somehow.

Size/fit the doors on the edge sander.

Drill for hinges (label location in hinge cup if necessary)

If applicable do edge detail. (95% of what we do is inset, so no edge profile) If it's in a shaper, I'd add a solid minute per door for that process. Probably two minutes if doing it with a router.

Orbital the faces. I don't bother hitting the edge with the orbital.

Break the edges by hand.

Stretch wrap them up with like sized doors.

Send them to finisher. BYE DOORS, see you next week! miss you....

Obviously this stuff becomes way more efficient with the larger the quantity being built. Time wasted on little things like turning a machine on, or walking between stations gets spread out amongst 50 or a 100 doors and it get's pretty small per unit. Even the tracking in the video on the edge sander being a snot takes time that once spread out amongst a large number is nothing really.

I bet the door in this video were it in a batch and I weren't carrying a phone around shooting video, I could knock a couple minutes out of the build time. I doubt any more than that could be done though with my current setup.

2/9/18       #12: Cabinet door production time ...

Hey thanks for the video. Man that shop looks phenomenal! It is like a tool showroom in there.
What grit are you running on your edge sander?
Is your process any different between paint and stain grade?

2/9/18       #13: Cabinet door production time ...
Pat Gilbert Member

Thanks Karl

2/9/18       #14: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


120 grit on the edge sander. It's too fine and I get burning pretty easily when the abrasive starts to break down. That starts pretty quickly. I just got that edge sander up and running. I bought 120 for it even though I was happy with 100 grit on the Ritter edge sander that it replaced. I figured with oscillation on the belt I could get a better scratch and not loose any performance. I was incorrect in that thinking. The next batch of belts I buy will be 100 grit again.

I try to treat paint grade like stain grade, though I generally sand stained cabinets finer than 150 grit.

2/10/18       #15: Cabinet door production time ...
Tracy Yarborough  Member

Thanks for the video and the look at your shop. You and I are on similar pages with shaker doors, takes us about 12 min per door with our setup from start to finish in a production run environment.

I do want to inquire about the backfence on your shaper you use for the sticking. It is that something you built, or is it commercially available?

Thanks again for the input. As a long time member of the CMA (cabinet makers association) this is the type of info we share with each other in an effort to make our businesses more efficient and, ultimately, more profitable.

2/11/18       #16: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


I made that back fence.

80/20 extrusions bolted through the cast on the side of the shaper. The 80/20's linear slides attached to it with brakes on each side. I had a local machinist cut a piece of 1/2" aluminum plate and cut a rabbet down the one edge that I attached a piece of UHMW to by drilling through the plastic and into the aluminum. I tapped the holes and bolted it down. I ran the UHMW across the jointer once it was bolted on.

It took some screwing around to make, but it wasn't really hard. Just fiddly and time consuming to come up with how I wanted it to work. Then not seeing a problem and having to run to town for fasteners, or waiting to order more parts.

It works far better than I thought it would and is pretty consistent. I do have trouble with static discharging through the readouts and causing them to go haywire occasionally even though everything is grounded really well. I re-did the way the wires were mounted for grounding and it has been much better since then. I have zero-ing blocks bolted down to the extrusions on the sides to reset the the digital read outs at .750" though. It also keeps somebody from doing something stupid and ramming my fence into a spinning cutter.

I want to say I spent $600 on everything to get that made. It paid for itself probably in the first week or two. It's nice for everything that passes through that shaper. Some of the little things we make for ourselves, I just keep setup notes on the settings and we just run them now instead of screwing around a bunch with setup times and running test pieces.

2/11/18       #17: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


BTW, 12 minutes on a shaker door is smokin!

2/11/18       #18: Cabinet door production time ...
Leo G Member

Probably gonna take me 2 1/2 hours to make 3 doors. But then again I have to setup the cutters and maybe make some fences.

2/12/18       #19: Cabinet door production time ...

A good forum with some interesting information and a great video. I haven't built a door forever as they are so cheap to just order. I could never compete with the big door manufacturers in the area.

2/13/18       #20: Cabinet door production time ...
Sean Benetin


What kind of glue is that. Do you have to deal with squeeze out or open joints when you sand it that fast, after sanding? Would love to pull doors right out of clamp and surface and edge that fast. Would you normally do all your doors first or in a batch, let them set then run through surface sander?

Awesome shop and Video BTW

2/13/18       #21: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


Titebond original. Normally doors sit for a while before going through the widebelt. Usually any open joints are from the clamp not smashing things together adequately.

2/16/18       #22: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


Here's a quick video of what makes up that outboard fence on my shaper. A couple of other people outside of Woodweb asked about it as well.

Shaper Fence

2/16/18       #23: Cabinet door production time ...
Tracy Yarborough  Member

Thanks Karl, I appreciate your willingness to share and your ability to explain yourself so well. I have a similar set up on one of my shapers, but I didn't use the sliding bearing assemblies. I think I'll buy me a couple of those and possibly the DRO's as well.
Thanks again!

By the way, I just sat in on a sanding seminar lead by Adam West of Dixon abrasives and surfprep products. I learned more from him in 30 mins than I have learned on my own in 20 years of being in business. He has the sanding process down to a science. If anyone wants to know more about sanding wood and learn the proper steps to sanding, I urge you to check him out. Here are some of his blogs -
If you can ever catch him in person at a trade show, you will learn something!

2/16/18       #24: Cabinet door production time ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


I had grand ideas of setting something up like a tigerstop using a couple of z drives for a cnc, but did this first. It works well enough and adjustments are fast enough that I never got around to it. I also planned on using better linear bearings, but these actually work reasonably well, and for the cost they're tough to beat. GOOD linear bearings are really expensive. This holds a nice tolerance and has been bulletproof. I think only once I've checked something with a caliper and been off more than .005", and that might've been from moving from the old to new shop.

We just got a moulder to setup for sticking and S4S, so I've probably got the end of the line for developing the idea any further on this shaper.

7/30/18       #25: Cabinet door production time ...
Charlie W Member

I currently have one woman that runs all my cabinet doors. We use pre-milled lumber and have a couple of multi-head shapers, door clamp, and a wide belt sander. I can comfortably do 1 raised panel door every 24 minutes.

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