High-Volume Cabinet Finishing Efficiency

Finishers discuss production line set-ups, whether to assemble before or after finishing, and other aspects of cabinet finishing in a mass-production environment. October 28, 2005

I recently started work with a 30 year old 120 employee company that has been spraying cabinets with the doors on. I have never seen this before and am wondering if anyone else does this?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Most house painters who finish cabinets do it that way. In tract homes they spray them that way also.

From contributor G:
Is that onsite or in the shop? Sounds pretty low end to me. There may be some slight justification for doing it onsite but in the shop it's just insane. Unless they're paying you an insane amount of money, I'd get out of there before their reputation gets on you.

From the original questioner:
This work is being done in-house in two booths putting out 5-7 kitchens per booth per shift. They want me to speed up production and improve quality. Their sprayers are at best sprayers, not finishers, so it's either overspray, micro bubbles, blush with fast dry or runs with slow dry.

From contributor B:
It sounds like they have their process backwards. Why are they doing it this way?

From contributor C:
Increase finish quality and increase output at the same time? Convince the owner to pre-finish the pieces prior to assembly. If the owner won't go for this, save your hair and find another job. Trust me, the frustration will only increase as more is expected of you with less support in the way of time and resources.

From contributor G:
I have to agree. You can easily improve the quality - get them to pre-finish on a flat line. Any sprayer can handle that and the quality will go up. To improve on 10-14 kitchens a day, quantity-wise is baffling me. How big is this outfit anyway? I've seen conveyor systems that run past multiple spray/wipe/seal/sand/topcoat/oven/topcoat/oven/etc stages that could do this well. Are they willing to put in an automated system?

From the original questioner:
We do have two booths and two shifts and a 2 man crew at each booth for masking. There are 4 workers in each booth to stain-seal-sand-topcoat. We have another crew for removing masking and ship prep. The goal set for me is 20 kitchens total a day from 2 booths and 2 shifts. I'm a little overwhelmed.

From contributor D:
I don't know why leaving the cabinet doors on is an issue. Maybe it is and maybe not. All the big furniture factories do a lot of their finishing on fully assembled items.

Flatline finishing is the best way to go. The time savings in sanding is significant because with a rig like a Kremlin Airmix or other air-assisted airless systems your quality of spray is so good that the sanding that needs to be done is no more than scuffing.

Sometimes I am sanding to adjust the application of coating that I just laid down. The purpose of sanding is to create a tooth - absolutely - and to remove errant pieces of trash that settle into the finish.

To speed up the time so that your scuff sanders can get to work the drying area - not the flash off area - should be filled with lots of air turbulence blowing across the curing surfaces and exhausted out of that area.

If I did the right ciphering then you are expected to get five kitchens a day out of your booths, each shift. 20/2/2 = 5. It's possible to do using pigmented coatings and without sacrificing quality. Introduce a glaze coat into the picture or any decorative steps or a stain grade finish and the five kitchens per booth per shift go out the window.

From contributor R:
Personally I am not a big fan of finishing with the doors on, however Smallbone in England does it that way and I don't think anyone can argue their quality or price point. I guess it comes down to what works for you and what you can get away with charging for it.

From contributor B:
So they are wasting time to mask and remove mask - not really time efficient. Why mask at all? I would suggest that you go from fabrication directly to the spray area. And if you added a booth or two with Kremlin airmix for lights or top coat only you could spray all 20 kitchens in a single day, single shift. You could probably do it with minimal cost if they are doing that serious of a volume. I would suggest skipping the whole masking all together and spend that money on booths, equipment, and labor. Im surprised they are still in business doing it that way.

From contributor G:
Sounds right to me Contributor B. I can't imagine they're putting on the laminated tops before finishing. So what if some lacquer gets on the hinges? They must have some carts to move the cabs in and out of the booths already and carts are easy to build. There seems no lack of bodies to do the sanding and prep and cart moving. There could be an initial learning curve problem when they switch to AAA, but that won't take long to sort out.