An Informational and Educational Website for Professional Wood Finishers





Finishing Classes
Finishing Videos
Finishing Information
Stain Systems
Special Effects
Spray Application
Business Aspects
About Us

I BelieveÖ

 Finishing is the most demanding job in any shop.


Finishing follows a very strict sequence of events, many having critical timing

 There is almost no tolerance for error, and when there is an error it might not show up until 3 to 6 months later, after the project is installed

 We have to fix or hide other peopleís mistakes & oversights

 If someone elseís job takes longer than planned, then that time is subtracted from the finishing schedule

 We are totally at the mercy of the weather

 We work in a smelly, caustic, explosive atmosphere

 Our work is almost completely done by hand Ė we have no CNCís or other labor saving tools.

 Our tool budgets are usually the smallest. Most companies will spend more on an edgebander or wide belt sander than they will on their entire finishing department.

 Most of the technical information finishers have about finishing is usually learned by word of mouth at they last shop they worked at Ögood, bad, or otherwise.

 More than any other group in your shop the finishers will make or break your bottom line


The Status Quo - Donít Rock the Boat

I think many companies simply expect or accept that the finishing department will fail or loose money. If you look at the grand scheme of things, you would expect business to demand the exact opposite, especially for something as important to the customer and your profitability as the finish.

Your finish should be a major selling point for your product. Letís face it, the finish is the first part of your job that your customer sees and touches. Observe a customer the next time they walk into your showroom or you hand them a sample. What do they doÖthey rub their hand on it. This simple act alone is a starting point in the customer ranking the quality of your companyís products.

Custom shops should take a cue from the Big Box stores. Next time you are in one look at their cabinet displays. They sport some very sophisticated multi-step finishes. Most of these fancy finishes are on casework construction that many custom companies would consider as being inferior. The mentality of the Big Box, however, is that it is not so much the case construction, dovetailed drawers or high tech hardware that sells cabinets, it is the finish. They have seen the light. Finishes sell cabinetry. This is a fact.

Finishing should also be a profit generating operation. The finish department operates with the smallest investment in tools and equipment, usually occupies the smallest floor space and normally assumes the smallest material cost per job.

Once you acknowledge the importance of the finishing process the more likely you to invest in it. Doesnít it make sense that you spend some time and money on what should be one of the most profitable and marketable features of your product?

Many companies operate under the ďIf it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ rule when it comes their finishing department. I hear the ďthis is the way we have done it for years and we donít have any problemsĒ as the standard response when someone is asked why they do something a certain way.

The ďif it ainít broke donít fix itĒ theory only holds true if you are sure that it ainít broke. There was a consumer survey that found that 90% of product failures are not reported back to the manufacturer. We have all been in the situation where we were disappointed in something and rather than contact the manufacturer we just said that we would simply never buy that product or brand again. Donít think that this canít happen to your products. You could have failures out there that are waiting to happen Remember, it might take 3-6 months for some finish problems to materialize.

The other thing to remember is just because it ainít broke doesnít mean itís working as efficiently as it could be. Even a clock that is stopped will still give you the correct time twice a day. Companies that are the most successful are companies that are never completely satisfied with their success. They question their success and then they strive to be better. So the first step towards improving your operation is recognizing the need to improve.


Major Reasons that Finishing Departments Donít Make Money

  1. Quality problems - re-work time

  2. Process inefficiencies - too many steps or poor work flow

  3. Lack of finisher training

  4. Lack of management training

  5. Poor pricing - underestimating what it takes to do the job

  6. Sales process - fulfilling customer expectations

  7. Material costs - cheaper is not always better

  8. Safety and compliance - it is cheaper to fix it before it breaks

  9. Material waste


People Facts

  1. 1. Most people want to do a good job. They get frustrated when they are not given the opportunity or tools to do so.

  2. 2. People adjust their process or techniques to make a bad situation work.

  3. 3. Humans are creatures of habit. We feel comfortable with what we know and mistrust things that are new. We are resistant to change.

  4. 4. If you donít recognize and address the first 3 items you will never be profitable.


 By Ron Bryze at