Cost Vs. Reward

Discuss Thermwood 3-axis Machinery, Controller, and Software.

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EdDobson
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Cost Vs. Reward

Postby EdDobson » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 7:53PM

Hi everybody.

I'm new here , although I've been reading through the posts for a few days. I own a construction company (go ahead, laugh) doing high end homes in the NE area. I'm curious to know your opinions of cost v reward in purchasing a CNC router if I only do billiard rooms, home theatre, great rooms, etc for about 20 homes/yr. I farm out my kitchens and currently do the specialties in my own small shop with simple woodworking tools. I'd love to cross-over as lately I've gotten numerous requests for hidden doors/rooms and I find I'm happier and relatively good at it. I'm also curious to find a means table for this custom work. I way, way under charge!

Ed

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DanEpps
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Postby DanEpps » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 8:24PM

A question in return--how much does a kitchen cost to contract it out? If you are paying $15,000 per kitchen, then you are paying $300,000 per year to someone else.

In my opinion, you could buy a Thermwood, hire a couple of employees to do the kitchens and come out way ahead. Add to that the savings for the other items you listed and I think it will more than offest the cost of the router.

EdDobson
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Postby EdDobson » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 9:15PM

I thought about this Dan, but would I still be able to build the whole house while managing a small cabinet business to boot. I'm not trying to be a pessimist, I just dont want to bite off more than I can chew. The small router looks to run about $10g+ which isnt that big an expense for a new \"toy\" for my shop. I just wonder if I eventually lean towards cabinets only, would the small router be too small?

Ed

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Postby EdDobson » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 9:20PM

By the way Dan,

I didnt even know Thermwood sold this stuff when I came here. I was just looking for presentation software for my current clients. As I research more, I find I know little about automation. What exactly would I be purchasing and needing to set up the router?

Ed

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Postby EdDobson » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 9:27PM

As soon as I hit submit, I think of another question.

Does the router do the raised panels, styles and rails also or just the cabinet body and does Thermwood sell the band edger too?

ps sorry so many questions but I do love this stuff

Ed

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DanEpps
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Postby DanEpps » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 10:19PM

I would think of it more as becoming more vertically integrated in the process of building the home. You may trust your current kitchen contractors but you can't control their quality. In the end, it is your reputation at stake.

From what I understand, you can create just about anything you want with the router. I don't own one (yet) so I can't give you any first hand experience. I can tell you that CNC routers are capable of creating the most complex items and with almost unimaginable tolerances. Contractors for NASA use CNC equipment to make rockets, automotive parts manufacturers use them to make everything from wheels to trim pieces. In short, if it can be designed with CAD, it can be created with a CNC machine. The complexity of the item being machined is limited only by the designer's CAD abilities and the number of axes on the machine. Cabinets are some of the more simple products created with CNC machines.

Having the ability to design and create your own cabinetry would enable a future paradigm shift to specializing in cabinetry if you so choose. In the present sense though, it would free you from the constraints of your contractors and what they can deliver.

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Postby Forrest Chapman » Tue, Jan 10 2006, 10:32PM

Ed,

Wow, I hope you're not losing sleep over this. One thing at a time.

I don't think any of Thermwoods routers for cabinet shops cost any less than 75 or 80K so I'm not sure where the 10K came from.

You have considered that this business will take time (alot) from your contracting. Do you have that time now?

You do realize the need for additional expensive tools like an edgebander, tablesaw, hingeborer, hand routers, chopsaw, drills, sanders, spray equipment, dust collectors, large air compressor and many other things that will have to be dedicated to the shop.

You will have to have dedicated and knowledgable employees.

Who is going to do the sales and design and problem solve at the router?

You will need at least 2500 sq. feet to work comfortably.

I would in no way want to discourage you from pursueing this but I would encourage you to take baby steps like get the software first and learn to use it.

Then take a small job and have someone on the production sharing list machine it for you. When you assemble and complete that job you'll have a better idea what your in for. If you want to continue then use someone else machine for a while, this is very cost affective.

I hope this helps.

Forrest

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Postby Bill Rutherford » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 6:37AM

Ed,
I have to agree with Forrest, setting up a fully functioning cabinet shop is no small proposition. That said, if you do set up a shop I would think that cabinetry and woodwork for 20 or so homes a year is a good start to keeping one busy.

As for the router, the minimum table size you need to effectively build cabinets is 4' x 8' and if you use any melamine you should probably be thinking 5' x 10' which means you are in the 75k and up range. Also, learning to program and run a CNC router is not like learning to run a table saw. You will invest a lot of time in getting up to speed with the machine. The upside is that if/when you do invest the time the rewards are huge. For me personally I would not want to imagine learning the cabinet making side of the business at the same time that I learned to program and operate a CNC.

I would definetly encourage you to outsource the cutting and edgebanding of a few jobs to \"get your feet wet\" before giving much serious thought to a CNC router. There are many capable people on the production sharing list that can not only cut parts for you but that will prove a valuable resource for anyone just starting in the cabinet business.

I don't want to sound like a wet blanket, but I just wanted to be clear that this is a HUGE undertaking.

Bill Rutherford
North Woods Manufacturing

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DanEpps
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Postby DanEpps » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 6:46AM

Ed

Don't read into this that Forrest and Bill have vastly different thoughts on this subject than I do. I agree with them 100% on the huge undertaking it is to setup a new shop, especially one with a CNC router. It is sort of like learning to ride a bicycle yesterday and hopping on a street rocket motorcycle today.

I skipped over the challenges to focus on the potential--I really shouldn't have done that. Sorry, I tend to overlook things like that sometimes and jump right to the rewards.

As with any business decision, this one deserves careful consideration of all risks as well as rewards.

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Postby DanEpps » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 7:57AM

I would like to add something that may assist you in analyzing whether you want to follow this path. Attached is a Word document for SWOT Ananysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportuniies and Threats.

Look over it and start answering the questions as they pertain to your business. Then, go back over it and answer the same questions as they pertain to your competitors. You could also apply the same questions to your kitchen contractors as one of the competitor columns.

Assign a value to each positive and negative answer and tally up the results. Who has the higher score, you, a competitor or a contractor?

You might even want to add information pertaining to the cost of contractors and the cost of buying a CNC router and hiring the personnel to run it.

Hope this helps in making your decision.
Attachments
SWOT.doc
(49.5 KiB) Downloaded 130 times

EdDobson
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Postby EdDobson » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 6:53PM

Wow! Thanks for all of the input guys. I dont know where I read 10G, (could'a been the second scotch). I curently have a small \"Norm Abrahms\" type shop with dedicated router w/jessem lift, 2-3 free routers, table saws for dado and rips, multiple jigs, band saw, joiner etc.

I've been able to accomplish pretty much most of what I've seen in these posts, but with intense number crunching, careful layout and a little luck.

At 10G, to have a machine zip through and not slip to ruin 20hrs worth of work would seem a no brainer. At 100G, I'd have to buy my wife a villa in Aruba. I think, as My clients become more demanding, I'll again entertain the idea of the purchase. For now, one room at a time while I learn the program.

Thankyou again for the perspective.

Ed

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Postby DanEpps » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 7:53PM

Well, I glad we didn't completely scare you away :lol: . Even without a Thermwood, eCabinets is a great design tool. I, and many others here, don't own one (can't afford it yet) but we love what we get out of the software.

I think I know the TV ad you must have seen for the \"toy\" CNC router at around $10K. They look like they might be OK if you used them a couple of time a month but I don't think they would stand up to the rigors of a production shop.

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Postby EdDobson » Wed, Jan 11 2006, 9:16PM

I dont scare too easily or I wouldnt own my own business.

I found the page with the 10G machine and it may not be a router. I had done a general search for CNC router and found this: {PRTalpha 96 96\"x 48\"x 6\"
2.44m x 1.22m x 0.15m 102\" x 50\" x 6\"
2.59m x 1.27m x 0.18m 120\" x 76.5\" x 88\"
3.05m x 1.94m x 2.24m $9,495.00 } I think its a lesser machine...know it is...but thought it was the thermwood site...its not.

Trust me...even without the machine....(YET)...I will have a great use for the cabinet software and look forward to posting/sharing Ideas with you all


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