The Soul of
Your Wood Finishing Estimating System
Look at your estimating process. Is the
person doing the estimating familiar with all of the operations
that are necessary to create the various finish and coloring
systems. Secondly do they have a good idea of how long it
actually takes to perform these operations in your shop. Has the
estimator every done any finishing. Most people in the
woodworking business are familiar with building, not finishing.
There is a big difference between imagining it and doing it. My
guess this is one of the biggest reasons that, on paper,
finishing often looses money.
The success of any estimating system
depends on how well you set the system up and how well it
reflects your actual results. Do not be lulled into a state of
complacency once you have an estimating system. Talk with your
finishers about time estimates. They are a great source of
information. If they keep grumbling that you are not allowing
enough time for jobs, then you should determine if your
estimating numbers are inaccurate or if there is something wrong
in the system that is keeping them from operating efficiently.
As we start to develop our estimating system there will always
be a number of things that you will need to assume. For
instance, all parts are ready at the time that the finishing
cycle begins. If you finish the job and then someone realizes
that they forgot to make one door, then your total job finishing
time will be affected.
Another assumption might be that all parts
have been properly prepared and sanded. This includes things
like the filling of nail holes, if appropriate, and breaking of
all edges. Again, if your finishers have to spend a lot of time
sanding out glue spots that should have been caught by another
department, then the finisherís times will suffer. You should
discuss these assumptions with everyone involved in the process
- by doing so, you define who is responsible for what. This
helps eliminate confusion and maybe even some employee
In reality it doesnít matter what
estimating system you use. All that matters is that it makes you
My experience in the world of estimating
has uncovered one universal flaw in almost everyone's
equation/technique. Only a small percentage of people go back
and see how close their estimated times/costs were compared to
their actual times/costs for a given job.
check the fit of a joint or the setup of a machine so we don't
make scrap, but we are willing to go by gut feeling or intuition
when it comes to the bottom line success of our company.
Did you estimate the job correctly? The answer to that question
lies right in your own shop, all you have to do is go back and
you never seem to be making money on your finishing, consider
the fact that you might not be charging enough.
For estimating purposes remember that
material movement times will vary greatly depending on the size
of the job, where as, set-up, clean-up and maintenance maybe
influenced only slightly by job size.
On any given project, you also have to
consider if there are any special circumstances that would
require you to adjust your ďnormalĒ price. For instance, when
working on a large conference table you might find that you
spend a considerable amount of time just walking around it to
get to where you need to be to work on it. Special effects like
filled finishes and glazing also add to your normal finishing
Finally, have confidence in what you do,
and donít be ashamed to charge for it. It is far, far, better to
lose the job than to lose your shirt. When it gets down to fine
tuning a price it seems that the first place people are willing
to cut times is in the finishing operation. I think thatís
because they donít really understand all that goes on there.
Considering the importance of the finish to the overall success
of the job this is the worst place to try and cut times. I also
think it is ironic that the first place companies are willing to
shave costs is the exact place that they complain about not
of the Digital Age on your Finishing Department
∑ Is your shop using
some type of CAD program to increase your drawing productivity.
much time has this saved you?
∑ Is your shop using a
CNC to decrease your cutting and/or machining time.
much time has these investments saved you?
software and hardware what do you think your dollar
we are drawing, cutting, machining and as a result
assembling cabinetry at a record pace.
next question is how much have you invested in your
finishing department to keep up with this improved production?