Outsourcing Kitchen Finishing

Thoughts on whether and how to farm out cabinet finishing. March 1, 2006

I have a small workshop producing about 10 high-quality kitchens a year. Out of a five week job, two weeks are spent on lacquering the (veneered MDF) carcasses and priming frames, doors, skirting etc. I made a few phone calls last week and I've found some fairly local companies that can take on the spraying, which would leave us free to get on with the woodwork that we're good at, effectively adding 40% to our workshop capacity. Have any of you gone this route, and what pitfalls should I look out for? I'm probably going to see the companies tomorrow - what questions would you ask?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I would strongly suggest you not start with an entire kitchen. Give them something smaller to show what they can do - nothing bigger than what you can remake if they really mess it up. The quality of their work and responsiveness to your needs are far more important than price.

From contributor B:
I can vouch for this first hand. I outsource my finishing and it can be nerve-wracking. As suggested, have them do something small and then work toward the bigger projects. I would give them a few difficult samples to make samples of it to show their work. I would give them a paint and glaze and an aniline dye sample to copy. You're putting your name on the line by doing this, but yes, it does increase production.

From contributor C:
We tried the outsourcing years ago and it never panned out. The moving of cabinets from your shop to theirs and the extra handling of picking them up again and the potential for damage with the extra handling was always a problem. Also, if there was any trouble with the finish, they had to go back to them again and the whole process became cumbersome. Look into hiring a finisher in house or keep doing it yourself. In the end the education you get by doing it yourself will help you out when there is a finishing problem and you will more than likely be the one fixing it.