Reducing Ding and Dent Damage During Material Handling

Tips for smart setup and careful material handling that can help you avoid costly labor for filling and sanding damaged surfaces. April 12, 2011

I feel as though too much time is spent sanding in my shop. Of course I realize that there is no way to avoid this step and I will always resent having to pay to have such mindless work done. But, it seems like we should be able to eliminate the need to fill and sand dings and scratches that happen during the processing and handling stages. How do you avoid the hundreds of tiny little accidents that increase filling and sanding time?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Make a list of what causes them and eliminate the source. The use of filler is a reflection of poor quality. Fix that attitude too.

From contributor J:
Not to be critical but always resenting having to pay to have such mindless work done is a bit harsh! I mean really, we work with wood, and wood doesn't come smooth like plastic so no matter what you do there will always be surface prep that must be done. A couple posts ahead of mine it was suggested that you review your steps and see what you can do to reduce or eliminate the dents and scratches you find in your work, excellent advice. Go a step further and watch your employees as they handle materials and show them better ways to handle and move the material. Chances are that if they are bumping things and causing scratches etc. they are likely trying to carry too much or items that should be handled by two or more people are being handled by only one person. This could result in much bigger problems than a few scratches! I really hope you're just having a bad day and that once it passes you'll find a more positive approach to things!

From contributor Y:
Keep parts clean and free from debris right from the start. When dirty parts are moved and stacked they wear on each other. Keep work surfaces and machine beds clean and scratch free. Also look at the sheets when they are received, some are not always in the best of shape. Then consider how you store material (lifts) and how each sheet is taken from the lift to be processed. If one guy is dragging a sheet at a time out he may need a helper to lift instead of drag. In the end I would be happy to have guys that look for the dents and scratches and fill them before painting. I am sure they dislike sanding as much as you dislike paying for it. Work together to solve the problem I am sure the shop guys already know where it happens.

From contributor K:
When it comes to wood components, ff's doors, drawer fronts, end panels (less sheet goods) one of the last steps is a final run through the widebelt. This takes all the darn itís out of everything. From there it gets r/o sanded, dust removed then onto the finish rack. You really only need to be super careful at the end.

From contributor U:
I know there is always filling and sanding to be done when working with wood, but I too hate to work on those self inflicted scratches that could be avoided. We pad our storage racks with cardboard strips and carpeting to keep from creating drag scratches that is caused by sand or grit sitting on our storage surfaces. We keep our infeed table clean of grit also, on our cutting table/chop saw setup. We do a lot of tall work that passes through doors that are too low, we pad the top jams with carpet or sponge rubber so when we do bump them, there is no damage. Not only do we minimize the damage, but it lowers the level of frustration in the shop.

From contributor L:
We try to always order full units of material, saves all the vendor induced dings. There will be times when you have to order a few sheets, some vendors are worse than others! When we went to roller conveyors to move panels it reduced the amount of dings we had to deal with. There is one more step we need to do: install the overhead crane and vacuum lift to eliminate sliding panels when loading the saw or router. The last two years have been hard on money so only minor upgrades have been done in the shop.

From contributor S:
As Contributor Y says clean work surface is key. I have a blow nozzle at every work station, especially anything with a feeder. Then itís all in manually handling of material.