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New Cabinet shop design help and machinery suggestions

Peter  Member

Hello Everyone
I am new here and looking forward to speaking with some people.
I have read numerous posts and see there are a lot of knowledgably people here.
I am currently shopping for equipment and would love to hear suggestions from end users regarding reliability and manufacturers suggested.
I have never worked in nor built a production shop before, so i am looking for advise on layout (see attached pdf). I am open to constructive criticism.
I currently have a sawstop cabinet saw, hammer jointer/thickness, drum sander, chop saw, all the small equipment needed as well as a kremlin sprayer Pump 30C25 Airmix and 2 quest 225 dehumidifiers. I will be putting in floor heat as well as a heat pump to add air conditioning for summertime.
I will be purchasing air compressor, dust collection, cnc (60K cnc budget).
I will eventually be buying an edge bander, boring machine and door machinery as shown on the pdf. The eventually will be a year or so down the road as i am also constructing a new building 30 x 80 ( definitely open to suggestions on the size/ layout.) I want to incorporate all necessary electrical in the concrete floor, but will make allowances and have drops available for future changes as necessary.
I have seen references to a dryer in the shop. I am assuming they are speaking about humidity control, but would like to know if that is correct.
I would like to know what people think about the idea of keeping some of the noise down by incorporating the compressor and dust collection in separate rooms outside the main building. These will be enclosed, heated rooms, ventilated as required/suggested. See pdf attached
Should the cnc be on its own dust collector?
The assembly table will be on removable casters to allow for moving sheet goods from storage to cnc.
This will be a 3 to 4 man shop when fully operational.
I am looking to start construction of the building in April and completed before +- July. I think having the cnc ordered soon will be appropriate.
i will be manufacturing mainly cabinets, face and frameless. Frames finished before installed on boxes.
garage door at the front for incoming materials and a garage door at the side for taking out finished product. Is No windows a bad idea in the shop? The side doors are 1 for a shop bathroom and the other is an entrance to my house.
I look forward to the responses/suggestions and definitely the critics!
Thank you

Click the link below to download the file included with this post.


3/9/22       #3: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Rob Young  Member



The dryer you have heard about is part of the compressed air system.

I can provide you information and pricing on Nutek Machinery's NuVac 5000 dust collector. It will serve your entire shop. The noise level is low enough you won't need to put it in another room.

I can also provide you a quote on a tank mounted compressor and dryer. I would recommend the aluminum pipe by rapid air for your air lines.

I can't offer a CNC in that price range but there are plenty of guys on here running machines of that caliber that can give you feedback.

Contact me and I'll be happy to help.

3/9/22       #4: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Mark B

My input from a small shop is to work in as modular a manner as you can. For my shop there would be nothing more frustrating than having a massive dust collector running on days or at times when you only have a few gates operating. In a smaller shop there are many days when you can benefit from some smaller localized DC. We run a CNC that is in the range your speaking of and have a dedicated collector for the CNC for the reason mentioned.

Rob has already covered the dryer issue. With your CNC investment and doing finishing I assume in-house you will want clean dry air with a good compressor, aftercooler, tank drain, coalescing oil filter, and refrigerated dryer. My shop is a touch bigger than your new building size and I run a Quincy QT75MAX, Hankinson filters and refrigerated dryer. What you opt for air lines is your call based on budget. People love the aluminum but it can crowd the budget. With good clean, dry, air at the source you have many options.

The rest of you package is a lot of digging in the archives but as I mention for a smaller shop I really enjoy the modular concept. You only run as much DC as you need at the moment, really look into things like DC brushless sanders that are very inexpensive to operate, have great dust collection, small envelope, easy on you and your crew. Maximize dust pickup to the highest degree to reduce cleaning cost (hours) and health of you and your crew. Wheels everywhere you can. Miles and miles of light.

3/9/22       #5: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...

I suggest you start with a marketing and business plan before planning your shop. Making product is the easy part, getting the customers is the hard part. Have you run a business before? How did you make the evaluation that a cabinet shop is needed in your area? How do you plan on attracting workers? Finding skilled people is a major hurdle these days.

3/9/22       #6: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...

I also think you are very optimistic on your shop construction finish date. In my area, breaker boxes are in short supply, window delivery can be 6 weeks, and contractors are delaying even making bids as they don't have the crews to do the construction. Also talk to your insurance agent and local code enforcement about the finishing booth and requirements for sprinklers for fire prevention. Will you be spraying in the winter? You'll need conditioned make up air to properly dry the finish. A drum sander is a horrible idea for a cabinet shop, allow for a thickness sander in your budget. You'll need a downdraft sanding table, and the assembly table has to be located closer to the paint booth. You don't want to weave around machinery with finished work. Speaking of weaving, you'll want room for a lift truck for moving in units of plywood around the cnc.

3/9/22       #7: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Peter  Member

Hello and thank you for your replies.
Rob I will contact you to discuss some equipment.
Mark Great information. What cnc do you use? Are you happy with it?
Rich I am a current business owner of a business that has been running since 1972. Prior to me taking that over in 2011, I ran a construction business. This cabinet business will compliment my current business. Where I am from, getting the work is the easy part. I do agree that skilled workers will be a challenge. I have one already, and will be looking for 2 more. Its cold where I'm from, and many of us get tired of working outside in the winter. I am not in a rush, and will not be running so i trip. Slow and steady. No lease payments need to be made every month. As far as the building goes, I will be project managing as well as physically working along with the other guy i already mentioned. I have many friends in the construction business and will be calling in a few favors. We have had some supply issues, but once i decide on equipment, i will get everything ordered. Typically 3 months will get all the building supplies. Most are readily available. My concern is what equipment to order, as that will be more of a delay than anything. I need to get to a final design and size, so i can get the building permit underway. The equipment that you mentioned, thickness sander and downdraft table is great information. I do plan on a sprinkler system. winter spraying will also be in my thoughts now.
I am very grateful for all the great input!

3/9/22       #8: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Mark B

It sounds like I may be in a similar situation to what your doing in that I was a GC (ground up turn key mostly residential with light commercial mix) for 30+ years always with a fairly well equipped shop from wood to light metal fab to compliment the GC side though we rarely had the staff to run the shop at a capacity to fully feed the GC side (build all cabs, run all custom trim, do finishing while framing is in progress etc). It was always a case of the crew moving into the shop for cabs or trim etc which is extremely inefficient as you need a separate crew building cabs or running a trim package while you have an adjacent crew in the field.

Several years ago my body and my passion for the design/customer interaction side of the GC world started telling me to get out of that end of the business. I was losing patience with the customer interaction, the constant changes, and was losing interest in the making people happy, blowing peoples mind, side of the business (which in my opinion is the only thing that keeps you profitable.. you have to win their hearts because their wallet is meaningless, its just the cream on top).

At that point moved fully into the shop with a business model of no direct sales to residential or commercial customers. All sales are to contractors, architects, and designers. They handle the customer foolishness, send us the order, we build, and when the product leaves the door we are done with it. Its much more peaceful but you spend more time courting and acquiring good wholesale accounts that dont wear you out just as much as the GC side of it did.

At that change I purchased a quality heavy steel machine (ShopSabre408Pro) 10 pos ATC, 10HP spindle, Vacuum, etc.. and re-tooled the shop for that work and havent looked back. Havent looked back doesnt mean its a boondoggle... there are still the dips and highs and lows, scrambling for work or drowning in more work than you can handle but affraid to turn it away.

In my world Rich is correct that finding and retaining help is the Achilles heel though in my area (rural mid atlantic) the additional heel is steady enough work to keep a 4-5 man crew busy without having to lay off (i.e. there is not enough fat in the work you get to pay them to sweep the floor and work on the shop for a month or two).

Building a solid, pretty much autonomous crew in my opinion will be paramount in your situation. You need a very solid crew that can be presented with a drawing package and execute it without miles of hand holding and 3 million questions from the shop floor. You will need a floor manager that can crack that whip for you. You will never be able to crack the field whip and the shop whip alone yourself.

You and only you know your market but a very small shop (which is what your speaking of) will never be able to compete at a home center level (frameless/MDF doors etc) so hopefully you will have a mix of somewhat higher level custom work. If your in anyway thinking you can compete in that market you need to re-evaluate now before you jump. If your customers are in any way pricing your product against the home center market your dead.

3/9/22       #9: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Mark B

Sounds like you may be well beyond this level but these two comical videos get tossed around all the time and its been years and years since I first saw them but they are still very relevant to this day.

3/10/22       #10: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...

Sounds like your plan and end goal will be a lot of fun.

I like your plan and the guys that have replied so far always have great advice.

My input would be, if possible build a bigger shop, 2400 sq ft with a cnc, a spray area and material storage along with 4 people, is way to small,

What Rich said about spraying with a make up air unit is a must in a cold climate.

I would also be hesitant to run all of the electrical in the floor, it sounds good, but can really limit any future changes, which could be layout, or upgrading to a bigger machine and your conduit in the floor is not big enough, etc. I would use drops for everything situated away from walls.

3/10/22       #11: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Peter  Member

Hi Scott
You hit the nail right on the head with your first statement. It is exactly what it is meant to be. FUN!
For me, a cnc is a must. For production yes, but also because I have wanted one for years. Somewhat of an expensive toy. I will enjoy learning how to use and program it.
I started this post because i am not naÔve. I don't know chit about a production shop, and i am looking for input. Although the shop will make money, that is a second to the enjoyment i will get from it. 4 people is probably not going to happen. 2 employees and me helping out is more realistic. 1 employee will be pulled away 2 or 3 days a month to work in my other business.
I would consider a litter larger, but when you say way too small, that is not something I want to take on. This wont be mass production of anything. A few jobs will be all I want. I have been through the headache of 24 employees 20 years ago. An underpaid babysitter was all I was. One of my mentors used to say when i complained to him "Peter, if they were as good as you, they would be working for themselves"
No understanding how a shop runs smoothly from station to station, and learning about what equipment should be there, is my goal. I have leaned much more from a few posts than I ever could of from sales people. There goal and mine are quite different.
I loved the video that mark sent. The reference to outdated equipment is real. Some of my equipment purchases were for my home shop. I now realize that i want a bigger home shop with better equipment.
I want to be able to make my own doors (5 piece) because I don't like stress. Relying on outsourcing the doors, although efficient, It would be worth the inhouse to eliminate the stress.
Terminology is something I lack when it comes to shop equipment (be it my uneducation) . In a little research, i now know that the make up air unit was already covered and included in my paint booth.
I am very grateful for all the input. THANK YOU

3/10/22       #12: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Kevin Dunphy


Congrats nice size the mistake I see is the spray both rooms make it at least 24 feet deep and straight across. The way it is now hard to wheel in and out plus no area to 320 between coats. You will get some storage on the wall.
Be careful of a salesman in equipment and tools most know nothing about running a shop.
I have a video on a cheap dryer for air compressor easy and an idea on airlines. Start saving money in small details.In my shop, I have a solar heating different way I save 1000 a year in heating.
PS yes window you will go nuts in the wintertime I found out the hard way
Good luck

3/10/22       #13: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...

I had a little more time to look at your floor plan and equipment.
What equipment are you planning on using to make your 5 piece doors?
Where is your shop going to be located? The reason I am asking is you are entering the world of 3 phase power with bigger machines. You will need a good size service, I would say the absolute minimum you would need is 200 amp. The other question is what voltage will your service be? Generally there are three different voltages , 220,480,600. Your equipment needs to match your service. When buying used equipment you often come across a piece, and it is the wrong voltage, that is not a problem as you can buy a transformer to make the machine work on your service, but what seemed like a good deal is now not that great because you had to spend $1500 give or take for the transformer.
Anyways you may be an expert on this , but over the years I have run into many who arenít.

As for dust collection I would look at something with decent capacity if you are making your own doors, you can cut particleboard sheets like melamine and veneers all day long on the cnc and the dust collection is minimal, when you start jointing and planing hardwood, the dust collection is substantial, it is a pain if you have a small collector and you have to dump it continuously.

When it comes to equipment, there is a lot of good stuff out there, generally the off shore manufactured stuff like grizzly, king, general international, etc is low quality stuff, good for the weekend warrior, but not so good for production. I would look at stuff like SCM, Martin, all the Homag stuff like Brandt, weeke, buffering. There are lots of good used machine around, even the equipment trader on this site is a good place to look.

3/10/22       #14: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Rob Young  Member


Scott has made valid points regarding the electrical capacity of your building. I would say 400 amp for the service though. You always want to have room for some growth.

We supply transformers when applicable to our customers and they can run in the $3000 to $5000 range each depending on the size and voltages, so it is definitely something to consider. The machinery we carry is European with voltages from 380-400 volts three phase. Some European machinery requires a neutral. This means a Delta/Wye transformer is needed.

In my opinion, the used machinery market is on the weak side at the moment. There are a few good machines out there, depending on age, if you are purchasing from a company that needed to upgrade capacity. My observation on machinery up for sale in auctions, if the company was struggling financially, is that the machinery is not well maintained. When companies are having financial trouble maintenance is usually the first thing to go.

As far as brands go Scott is once again correct. The brands he mentioned as cheap are for hobby guys or those that have failed to understand the importance of having the right tool for the job. Scott is not familiar with Nutek Machinery and the machine lines we carry but I would encourage you and everyone else to take a look. Each line was handpicked by maintenance technicians with experience in production facilities of all sizes. Heavy built machinery that produces the highest quality parts on the market with a high level of production efficiency. The machines Nutek Machinery carries do not just look good on paper. They look good on your shop floor in production.

You will need to balance the cost to meet current capacities with machinery that will allow you to grow. There are two mistakes to be made.

1. Underbuying to meet only your current needs and finding you spent $50K on a piece of machinery that needs to be replaced in 1-3 years because it simply is not enough. No matter how you look at it, spending money that does not really get you what you need is throwing money away.

2. Overbuying and causing yourself financial hardship and setting yourself up for failure. You had mentioned that getting the work is the easy part, so you absolutely need to plan for growth.

Give thoughtful consideration to the number of cabinets you want to produce daily now and over the next 5 years. This will really help you focus on the right equipment.

My advice on the CNC is to make sure it is modular and can be added to. You may only need a stand-alone machine starting off but if you increase production in the future, you will want auto loading and unloading. Machining centers like ours run in automatic mode without an operator hitting cycle start. If the edgebander is placed at the outfeed of the CNC and there is a return system installed on the edgebander, one operator can run both machines. It does not take long to justify machinery like this if you are able to utilize one operator instead of 2 or 3.
The CNC should also allow you to do all of your vertical boring when you are nesting so I'm not certain you will need the boring machine in your drawing. If it is for horizonal boring for dowels I would just get a drill and dowel machine.

I look forward to talking with you in the near future Peter.

3/10/22       #15: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...

A very good post, you are correct in saying I know nothing about the equipment you sell.
I live in Canada and for years we had an excellent dealer and service for both the SCM and Homag lines of equipment.
To me service is the most important thing, I bought a Holtzer edgebander when I first started out years and years ago and I had a problem and no one could repair it, so I said never again.
Unfortunately the really good techs have retired or moved on, and I am in the never again era once more.

3/10/22       #16: New Cabinet shop design help and ma ...
Peter  Member

The power is still up in the air. I am waiting to close on the land. I am hopeful to get the one that has 3 phase available close by, so it wont be a fortune to run poles. The other one that is still a consideration, has a right of way to get to 50 acres and will be quite expensive to get 3 phase to it. Both have advantages and disadvantages as far as the property goes.
I will most likely go with 600 amps. 200 for the house, and 400 for the garage area.

I also am in Canada. Having equipment that has service available is very important, and great information prior to purchase. A broken down piece of equipment makes an expensive boat anchor.

I haven't had much look at door equipment, but i did look at unique. That is my main problem. I have no idea if it is any good. I do know that being a self sufficient shop, is quite important to me. In my experience, the most profitable jobs, are the ones when everyone is flat out, and cant find time for anymore work. When that happens, people who supply doors are in the same boat and you wait weeks to get them. Many people price like crazy in the winter. When the spring and summer hit, they forget about pricing jobs because they are so busy from the prices they gave out in the winter, they loose out on the profitable projects. I was caught up in that when i had a big crew. I missed many opportunities because of being over worked. I love the saying "I would rather be slow and making money, then be a busy fool" Now when someone asks me if I am busy and i say no, its pretty slow, i just smile when they tell me how busy they are. Its just an age thing for me. As i get older, I realize that many times the turtle enjoys the trip more than the rabbit.

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