Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Someone recently asked me, "Why are there such big price differences in the [cabinet] bids I've received?".  I've given that question a lot of thought and I wish I'd responded more precisely.  

I've talked about the competitive building market before, but I'd like to re-address the topic today.  Mainly because there are still so many companies out there who are willing to work for virtually nothing just to get a job. There are dozens of shortcuts you can take to minimize the cost on your bid.  Like many other areas of construction, the cabinet maker makes money on upgrades.  Most will bid the job low and try to catch more money as they sell you finish, design, hinges and drawer upgrades.

The temptation is to buy the cheapest cabinets you can once the bids come in.  But it's important to remember, when you buy the cheapest, you're usually also buying the cheapest quality.  As far as resale value, Kitchens are the easiest way to insure the best price down the road.  However, if you're want to live in your house and don't consider selling it, you should still consider a better quality cabinet as they last longer and you don't want your cabinets splitting apart or feeling rough after you pay for them.  Ultimately, going cheap in the short term can cost you big time in the long term.

There are cabinet makers who offer a quality cabinet for a lower price; but again, I want to point out those lower prices usually come attached to lower quality materials.  So how do you know if the guy is overcharging you for low end stuff, or keeping his costs down by skimping on the materials?

These are some of the ways you can tell if a cabinet maker is giving you a low quality cabinet.

First, you'll want to see an example of work before you hire them.  The eyes are the first line of defense.  If it looks run down and bad, chances are; it is.  Reach out and touch a finished side of the cabinet, if it feels flat and smooth than the cabinet maker is using a better quality finish.  A custom Cabinet maker will almost always use a higher quality material.  Pre-manufactured cabinets are produced using thinner materials.

Second, pay attention to the layout.  If you're not using a bid service to create a layout for cabinet makers to bid, you'll get a variation in layouts from the different companies you get bids from.  Some will design a layout that is functional and makes use of the space provided.  A bid from a cabinet maker who is only interested in providing the lowest cost may produce a layout that is cheap, but not practical.  

Drawer banks are more expensive than shelf banks.  A great way to save money when you're bidding a Kitchen is to cut out the drawers.  If your layout is missing drawers, you know their only interest is the price. 

Another shortcut cabinet makers will take is minimizing doors.  Sometimes a cabinet is too big for one door.  The hinge isn't made to support the weight, but one door (even if it's bigger), is cheaper than two.  This is an area where you run the risk of having doors falling off their hinges over time.

One of the best ways to get a fair idea of what a cabinet maker really offers is to level the playing field.  You can hire a cabinet bidder to design a layout.  You go through the process of picking out where you want your drawer banks, and what cabinets you want in different areas.  You can also pick out the wood species you want and even decide what kind of finish you want, i.e. stain, glaze, paint...

Now, take the design with all the specifications and collect your bids.  With the option of only bidding for what's already been decided, you can gather together a comprehensive idea of which cabinet maker will offer you the best deal.  Without taking shortcuts.


A lot has happened since I last wrote.  We've been so busy I haven't had time to sit in the office and put some stuff together for the blog.  In fact, I haven't had much time to take pics and show you some of the exciting things we're doing.

Let me talk about the trends we're seeing in woodworking.  This past year we've seen a rise in paint jobs.  Paint jobs are cabinets with paint finishes rather than stain or glaze finishes.  In some ways, a paint finish is harder to do because paint surfaces are less forgiving than stain or glaze.  Stain and glaze surfaces are accentuated by the natural color changes in wood and small imperfections, (especially discoloration), can be easily covered up.

Paint surface can't have small nicks and dings in it.  It needs to be flat for the paint to be consistent.  So there's some prep work involved in making sure the surface is flat and smooth.  This is usually accomplished through sanding.  However, if there are places where deep nicks are present, we use a wood putty or bondo to fill it and then sand again until the surface is completely level.

I think a paint finish would be harder to keep clean as well.  Because the surface is rather unforgiving and any flaw is highly visible.  If you have children, painted finish will really show every tiny imperfection.

On the other hand, paint finishes offer people something more traditional finishes can't.  The color options are far more varied.  You have the ability to match your cabinets to other color schemes more successfully with a paint finish.  Your cabinets can become part of your color scheme rather than merely a color compliment.

And I think this, more than anything else is why paint finish is becoming so popular.

We've invested in a new CNC router.  I'm sure you remember reading posts about our router a while back and I'm pleased to announce, the router made a huge difference in our ability to produce work.  We've increased our output by leaps and bounds.  We've also hired additional crew to handle the increased amount of work we're producing.

In addition to hiring new crew, we've said goodbye to some as well.  We saw one of our long time employees retire last year in September.  That was quite a milestone as we haven't had someone retire with the company in years.  We wish John continued success in all of his endeavors and look forward to seeing him from time to time when he stops in to say hello!

We've done other things this year as well.  We've redesigned the shop and moved equipment around to facilitate a more productive assembly line.  We have areas designated as holding areas for different things like doors, drawer boxes and cut material.  As we refine our prep process, we increase the speed with which we assemble boxes and stage them for delivery.

Right now we're working on ways to increase our productivity even more.

I'll try to post some new pics soon and you can check out some work we're doing around town.  Thanks for sticking with us and keep checking back with us.