Buying Premade Moulder Blanks Versus Ripping Your Own

Purchasing pre-ripped stock for moulding manufacture has its advantages and disadvantages. November 19, 2005

What are the pros and cons of buying solid and finger joint moulder blanks versus buying rough sawn, ripping it and running it? Are there any suggestions for low cost, high quality sources of poplar for large volume millwork operations - blanks and rough sawn?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A :
I have found that buying units of 1 x 8 poplar has been most cost effective. Try to find a lumber distributor who buys his sanded 1 x 8 poplar from Weyerhauser. A unit is 700 l/ft. and I buy it for about $1.30l/ft. Then you have all this nice stock sitting around. They also sell red oak in this fashion. Do not get someone to mill you S4S. The quality will not be the same and it is usually more expensive.

From contributor B:
I used to have a shop with two moulders running pretty steady for 8 hours a day. We only had one Mereen Johnson gang rip to keep up. So we started buying pre-ripped to run our stock profiles, and using our gang rip for custom stuff. We successfully did this for about 10 years before I left the company. The good points are that the time savings can be great, especially on rush orders. The money saved is not just in the labor, but also the room in your shop to accommodate the extra machinery to maintain your volume. Once you get in good with a supplier you can even order oddball items pre-ripped with a little notice. You can order widths that you always seem to run out of, such as 3-3/4", but not the widths that always accumulate such as 4-3/4". So this can help your yield and waste factors a lot.

The bad points are that it takes more organization to correctly inventory all the sizes and lengths. The bundles of pre-ripped donít stack as nicely as lumber in your warehouse. It can take a lot of floor space. Also, watch out for raises in pricing. Sometimes a supplier will offer pre-ripped wood at almost the same price as regular stock. All the big cheeses in your company say wow, but after 6 months to a year the price starts going up. By this time the customer may have developed contracts beyond his own ability to supply on his own. Then, a .05 cent price increase can turn things from a wow situation to a so-so situation. Overall, Iíd say itís a good idea for a large volume shop that has good controls on purchasing and inventory.