Door-Building Productivity

How fast can you make cabinet doors? Cabinetmakers discuss manpower, machinery, and door construction speed. July 5, 2006

I would like to know how fast most of you guys build a set of say 50 doors. It usually takes me approx 1-1/2 to 2 days. I think that is too slow. How long would it typically take you to make 50 doors? These are Square Raised Panel.

My tools:
Table Saw
UpCut Saw
Shapers for all pieces
37" WideBelt
Panel Carrier (approx. 15-20 Panels when full)

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
How do you build doors without a planer and jointer? Are you buying your frame and panel stock? If it's just you, 50 doors with that list of machinery sounds unbelievably fast to me.

From contributor B:
One person, more machines, 3.5 days.

From the original questioner:
Yes, I have a planer and a joiner. I usually do not use the joiner for the panels because if you use a really sharp blade on a table saw you can achieve a smooth edge for gluing.

From contributor C:
Table Saw
3 Shapers (stick and panel w/feeders, cope w/ hand sled)
Pipe Clamps
Edge Sander
Palm Sander

I figure it takes me about 45 minutes per door from parts list (by hand) to finish sanding. I make a true raised panel door so you can't run them through a timesaver or drum sander. I wish I could make a finished door every 19 minutes. What is a day to you - 8 hrs, 10 hrs, more? You're working alone? I wouldn't complain about 20-25 doors a day.

From contributor D:
I recently did about 120 doors with the same machines you have with the exception of an upcut - I have miter saws. Sanding, assembly, sanding, edge treatment in about 2 weeks of 8 hour days. Seemed like an eternity. If you can do 50 doors in 1-1/2 days, I'd say you're smoking.

From contributor E:
Could you explain what you consider a finished door? Did that time include gluing up panels? Do you mill all of your stock? Is it S3S? There are lots of things to consider.

From contributor C:
A couple more questions - what do you do as finish sanding? Is it just a pass through the timesaver and you're done? Or are you taking a DA to them to get rid of the cross grain scratches? Do you put an edge treatment on them (profile) of are they just square? How about sanding the edges of the doors or do you just leave them with the mill marks on them?

When I do doors I start with rough stock, face joint, plane, all of the styles and rails. The panels are glued up from stock that is milled from pre planed (13/16") and a SLR edge. They still need to be rough sized, jointed and glued before they need to be run through the planer and the finished sized, beveled, sanded and pre stained. If I use S3S I will end up with a couple of doors that have twists in them because pre planed stock is not always true. Again, 25 doors a day is good.

From contributor D:
It takes me longer than that to do paint grade shaker style doors. On the kitchen I'm building now it's taken me about 1-1/2 days for all the rough milling, (from 4/4 soft maple) cutting and priming the panels, and running the profiles. It will take another day and a half to glue up (Bessey clamps) the doors and drawer fronts. And it will take at least a day and a half to run them through the sander, hand sand, and drill for hinges, ready to finish. Then it will take a final day to spray them.

For doors I generally use:
10" Unisaw
3hp shaper and/or router table
24" dual drum sander

14" chopsaw
bessey clamps

From the original questioner:
I do use an profile edge for the outside of the door.
Also sanding is as follows:
Wide Belt 80,120,180,220
DA: 100, 120, 180

DA can vary. I am just trying to eliminate all of the crossgrain scratches.

From contributor C:
Inquiring minds want to know - what's you secret to the speed. Do you eat your Wheaties every morning? Also you didn't say how many hours you considered a working day.

From contributor F:
50 a day, no problem, from board to hinges installed.
Lumber purchased s3s 13/16.

PM66 with power feeder
Whirlwind upcut with Tigerstop, optimizing software and labels
Unique 250 door machine
Pony pipe clamps (panel glue up)
Ritter assembly table (door assembly)
Brad nailer
2 head timesaver 120/180 grit
Shaper with power feeder for edge profile
DA with 150 grit (remove cross scratches)
Grass and Blum hinge machines

From contributor G:
Is this one man in a 9 hour day?

From contributor E:
Do you let the glue dry on the panels? I think I could do 50 with that Unique machine.

From contributor H:
Less than 10 minutes. I create a door list, fax it to the door company in Salem, Oregon. And they build them, while I'm building cabinets and on to the next job. There's no way I could keep up making my own doors, and not turn down new business.

From contributor I:
I like the 10 minute method also. Unless you are superman, there is no way you can produce 50 doors in one day as one person. I pay about $20-25 a door for oak this style and 25-30 for maple. If it takes you 3-4 days, which it would take me with my set up, you are not making much money building doors. Source out and take on more business. There are several companies out there to provide the service. Make your life easy and let someone else do the hard work, and build some boxes.

From contributor F:
8-9 hr day 1 guy. Glue up panels first, then machine rest of parts, size and machine panels, assemble doors. That machine was the second best investment I made for the shop, next to the CNC.

From contributor J:
I knock out about 35 doors in three days, rough to finish sanding (all edges ready to be finished – beaded, mitered, flat panel, joined with biscuits. And while I do that nothing else is being done and all my machines are taken up. That’s why I do the 10 minute door thing. I enjoy the process of making doors - it is cabinet making. However I have found that Conestoga and AWDI make great doors, consistently, exactly what my clients want. So except for smaller jobs 5-10 doors or drawers I order them. 25 a day – wow – do you need a job?

From contributor K:
For us it depends on what kind of wood we are working with and the quality of the unit. With two experienced guys and a rookie, a 10" TS an 8" jointer, three shapers, two power feeders, a chop saw, planer, wide belt, a panel crafter, other misc. tools, and a cutlist that is A-1 we just knocked out about 125 doors in 4-5 days, but that was the first thing we did in our new shop and 60 of those doors were hickory and 25 were arch tops. You guys should try Dorus Express glue, 7.5 minutes is all the time you have to leave panels in the clamps before you plane them if the temp is 70 or above.