Sequencing Tasks to Optimize Workflow

Quick tips on organizing cabinetmaking tasks for efficiency. February 13, 2013

This has probably been discussed here many times but in our 2.5 man shop I would like to optimize the flow of materials and its processing. Is it better to cut, edge, and bore all the cabinets first and then work on the drawers, or the other way around? What do you guys like to do? We have only one main panel saw and limited storage space.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
In an ideal world, you want finished fronts, finished drawers, and assembled cabinets to all arrive at more or less the same place/time to final assemble and load on the delivery truck. If you canít plan for them all to arrive together, it really makes no difference as one process will always be waiting on the other before the product can get out the door. Now with space a constraint, storing a few completed drawers and doors fronts waiting on cabinets takes up less space than cabinets waiting on drawers/fronts.

From contributor M:
In a shop your size I assemble the smallest components first then the final assemblies last. Doors, drawers, and rollouts are first because they take the least amount of space. As cases are assembled the drawers and doors are added and the assembly is finished and wrapped up. If you assemble the cases first your shop is too crowded. I also do it this way so I can optimize same material thicknesses together. For example I cut backs, drawer buttons, and any other 1/4 material together. Then the door materials and last the casework. Because we edgeband this order it also means the least amount of machine setups.

From contributor L:
I like Contributor Mís method. The one thing I change because I have very limited space is to have the plywood processed to final size first. I don't want to be handling full sheets with the other stuff around and a stack of cabinet parts shells unassembled doesn't take up much room. Although my supplier will process the plywood for not that much (one cut is free), I find the quality cuts will only work as a rough cut.