End grain cutting board assembly line?

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Forum topic by nashvillenative posted 12-29-2020 04:35 PM 421 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 735 days

12-29-2020 04:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cutting board end grain

I’ve got an idea and I was wondering if this is novel or I’m just late to the party.

I was considering cutting and gluing and wide variety of cutting board “blanks” and having them on hand for end grain cutting board orders. i.e. cutting a LOT of them at the same dimensions and then gluing them for the final product when I get an order.

Has anyone tried this before and is it a feasible option for this type of project?

-- "any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are useless"

8 replies so far

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7250 posts in 1586 days

#1 posted 12-29-2020 06:26 PM

Pretty sure folks selling cutting boards either say there is a lead time for orders to be fulfilled, or it’s a one of, and they are selling something already assembled, and finished. IOW, ready to ship.

Maybe if you feel that a quick order to delivery is the path to sales? I guess I’m not seeing a difference, and can more easily see folks getting in their head it’s some made in China, India, wherever children are working 30 hour days and then they just say NO.

-- Think safe, be safe

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1932 posts in 3329 days

#2 posted 12-29-2020 07:41 PM

The amount of inventory to carry is always a tricky question. It’s expensive to make and store items that aren’t selling and if you’re making stuff before an order arrives, you never know what sells and what doesn’t.

Generally, the best solution is to work on your process and minimize setup time so you can produce products start to finish in single piece flow. Produce one of each to test the process and create a standard as a reference for future production runs of the same item.

At this point you can start selling with lead time that gives you enough time to produce and ship your product. Once sales are coming in, you’ll have a better idea of how many pieces of each design sell per day and that lets you decide how much inventory to carry. Create a kanban card for each product and run production whenever inventory drops enough to trigger the kanban.

Kanban also works for components and not just the completed project. The only difference is that you are the “buyer” for the components and the kanban is triggered whenever you pull enough stock out of your part bins.

Precut blanks should probably be left oversized then trimmed to final dimension right before glue up. Variations in wood movement can mess up alignment and make it hard to get perfect glue joints.

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6550 posts in 1602 days

#3 posted 12-29-2020 07:45 PM

It’s certainly feasible and makes total sense. You’re the only one who can decide how to go about it though.

For example, how many pieces should you keep around. What’s your sales volume? It doesn’t make sense to keep enough pieces around for fifty boards if you expect to sell one per week. They will also tie up your lumber inventory such that it can be used for only one purpose. If an unrelated job came in that you could use that lumber for, it’s not available and you’ll have to invest money for more.

One more thing that comes to mind is stability. If I understand your plan correctly, you want to have strips of pieces glued up, and ready to glue together for the final dimension. A strip of glued up blocks won’t be as stable as a complete board.

Do a few. Maybe enough for a couple of boards and see how it goes. You can adjust your workflow as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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1518 posts in 1191 days

#4 posted 12-29-2020 08:50 PM

IMO you have done the most time consuming part(milling, planing, gluing) and still left with an unfinished product you can’t sell.

I would either stop earlier in the process or finish the boards and stock them.

Honestly If they are your run of the mill cutting boards and you sell the same thing over and over just stock finished product.

Trying to make money making 1-2 average boards at a time will be hard.

If you need to take some labor out of them, look into having your supplier do some of the milling. Most have a lot bigger, more efficient machines than small shops. My supplier has a 60 hp double head planer and a 15hp straight line rip saw. Your average shop couldn’t begin to compete with the efficiency.

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33 posts in 735 days

#5 posted 12-29-2020 09:51 PM

Wow, all great advice. I think it’s probably best to go the route of, “make, then sell.” I was just curious to see if anyone had tried this approach before. I want each sale to be a one of kind product and providing a lead time definitely makes it seem like each piece is bespoke. Thanks for the advice guys! Means a lot!

-- "any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are useless"

View HowardAppel's profile


45 posts in 4046 days

#6 posted 12-29-2020 10:38 PM

I recently saw a video, by a CNC guy with a good sized commercial shop, recommending that you limit your selection to those items that routinely sell, otherwise, as noted above, you tie up stock, space and money and you have spent all three on product that may not sell. Obviously, it takes a while to figure out what sells, but unless you are truly customizing every board, IMHO his approach makes sense. I will see if I can find the video.

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45 posts in 4046 days

#7 posted 12-29-2020 11:01 PM

Here is the video I remember. Not directly your circumstances, as he is a full bore commercial shop, but IMHO he has some good advice.

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5879 posts in 4141 days

#8 posted 12-29-2020 11:15 PM

For my random cutting boards I have started doing this – gluing up strips into planks and saving.

Since my random boards have no pattern (by definition) I can make planks as I accumulate strips. The planks are easier to store than piles of strips.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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