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Thread: Kitchen Cabinet Cost per Lineal Foot?

  1. #16
    We seem to be inbetwen the highs and lows. I agree with the LF pricing being merely a "proover" to cull the tire kickers and home center shoppers. As I read this I cant possibly imagine being paid the numbers Martin claims and then I cant imagine shipping and installing the cabs Justins photos show even unfinished.

    We have never, ever, done an unfinished job. I guess its just the market. And now we are 95% commercial with only the occasional kitchen.

    If your pricing your work accurately, paying your shop, labor, markup, taxes, depreciation, (etc, etc, etc).. then good for you.

    If I were selling at Martins numbers I'd be living on a Yacht in the Caribbean. But then again, my property taxes on my shop are about 300 a year plus equipment and inventory at another 700 and that tax burden directly correlates to what your market will yield.

    We chased the residential (wholesale builder/retail) market for a short time and it just didnt look like any fun.
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  2. #17
    My wife fell in love with a Kraft Made display at the local Lowe's so that is what we ended up with. The cost was FARRRRRR higher than any $/ft they had displayed. Our uppers go to the ceiling but are combination of combination of 30s and 12s with the upper ones having bubble glass doors. They are pretty decent made but I could have done it for a LOT less. We could have gotten other cabinets for half or less of what we paid but it was not what the boss wanted.

    If you make it yourself and only pay for materials, it will obviously be cheapest. Next would be the knock down stuff like Ikea sells - there are brands that use plywood (Ikea does not). Assembled costs more as does all the fancier ideas that women want.

    At least I got to install the cabinets and all the appliances and trim. That saved significant money.

  3. #18
    Sadly, if you buiild them yourself, with less than production equipment, and pay yourself and yiour shop a mere $5 an hour, you'll be in for far more than the cost of home center cabs. It may be fun, and rewarding, but even with $5 an hour in labor it'll cost a fortune.

    It's just weighing the fun vs the time away from your family and the fact that it will take perhaps 10x as long. Not to mention but picking all the things you'll wish were different or better.
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  4. #19
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    When I was redoing my house, I found it difficult to compete and compare with quality kitchen cabinets, particularly the finishing. The easier way to justify my time was with passage doors, vanities, and particularly closet systems. Closet systems get expensive for what amounts to finished MDF and mediocre cabinets. I saved the most doing a big walk in closet. I have the equipment to do most everything but time is limited so when I play, it has to pay- somewhat. Dave

  5. #20
    Live just outside Boston and work for a small four man custom cabinet shop. One of the four is a finisher that largely lives in a spray booth. When not in the booth he puts together doors and sands finished work.

    From what I understand the range in the area is $800-1500 of for uppers and lowers. Add and subtract for magic corners vrs cheap lazy Susan, finished end panels vrs not yada yada.

    Those numbers will blow some minds but I can’t see how my boss could keep the whole thing rolling on a dime less.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Walsh View Post
    Live just outside Boston and work for a small four man custom cabinet shop. One of the four is a finisher that largely lives in a spray booth. When not in the booth he puts together doors and sands finished work.

    From what I understand the range in the area is $800-1500 of for uppers and lowers. Add and subtract for magic corners vrs cheap lazy Susan, finished end panels vrs not yada yada.

    Those numbers will blow some minds but I can’t see how my boss could keep the whole thing rolling on a dime less.
    The simple fact is; it's based on economies of scale. I can guarantee my material is cheaper than anything you guys can get - not including locally sourced raw materials or imports. Northerners can get white pine way cheaper than I can, but my oak and soft maple prices are low, and now that I have a new source for plywood my margin is going to increase quite a bit. All that is just talking material, not labor. I can pay a skilled (a loose term here) laborer $13-15hr here and he'll be bragging to his friends. If I remember one of Martin's posts, he pays his guys around $25.

    I've bid many jobs and the homeowners ask for an hourly rate. They quickly accept my bid when I tell them $50/hr on site (for just me), $100/hr in the shop. No one here ever hires me by the hour, they think they it's robbery. Case in point: 2014 a homeowner asked for a bid on trimming this house. It wasn't extravagant, but had stacked crown, stacked base, 8-0 doors, beams and some simple arch work and 3 closets. Labor bid was $14000, he declined and wanted to just pay us hourly (he was there everyday after work to monitor progress). I paid one helper $22 and the other $15. We finished in a month and he ended up paying $14700 (my take home was a little over half of that because I worked 12-14hr days). The cabinets were a separate bid. His cabinets came out to over $500/LF because of the walnut pegs and we built a walnut butcher block top for the raised bar that was 117" long, 20" wide with a massive radius.
    -Lud

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Ludwig View Post
    If I remember one of Martin's posts, he pays his guys around $25.

    Good ones, they start at $15(ish).

    I'm trying to get a buddy that I used to work with years ago to come work for me, he wants $33/hr. I'm trying to figure out if I can swing that, or what needs to happen to ensure that I can swing that.
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  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Ludwig View Post
    The simple fact is; it's based on economies of scale. I can guarantee my material is cheaper than anything you guys can get .
    I think your post about labor costs is really where the answer is. In any venture Ive been involved in the material is pretty much trivial in the grand scheme of what something costs. Ex wife and I used to have a pottery studio, there was probably $0.10 of clay, and $0.05 in glaze and another few cents in kiln fuel consumption (electric or gas) for an average item that may sell for $25. Its all in the labor.

    Same thing with cabs/millwork, and trim. We have locals come in looking for kitchens and they ask "what if I bring my own wood to cut down on the price"? The face wood in an average kitchen, regardless of any common species, is pretty trivial in the grand scheme of the job. Maybe a couple hundred board feet of material at two bucks a foot wholesale.. 400 bucks on a modest kitchen that may cost 6-8K. Total material costs may be in the 2-2.5K range. But if your labor expense is half that of another area your number is going to chop drastically based on the remain 4-5K being labor.

    Working in rural areas and not in metropolis is definitely a different world and somewhat hard to say the least but I would never go back to that mania and having a mortgage on your mortgage just to cover your property taxes lol.
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  9. #24
    I figure usually about 30-40% is my material and hardware cost of the cabinet total, not including finishing or installation. I don't have a clue what just the material works out to. I should know. Obviously hardware costs can vary wildly when somebody wants a $700 corner organizer in a smaller kitchen, and the kitchen is the whole job. It's a ballpark though. I use almost solely 563 undermount slides, and the inserta soft close hinges. The carcass is 3/4" plywood, (that I'm paying way too much a sheet for), with bases getting a 1/4" Baltic Birch back, and wall and tall cabinets getting a 1/2" Baltic Birch back. Unless they're open, then I usually use a 1/4" mdf cored material in whatever specie is appropriate with stretchers. We use solid Birch for our drawers, and they get a 1/4" Baltic Birch bottom. We also build all of our own doors. Moulding is sub'd out currently, as is finishing.

    Mark is spot on, you're paying mostly for labor. Or, you're paying for the equipment that reduces the labor. By the time you get the product built, finished, delivered, and installed, material cost is pretty negligible.

    I just bought a five head moulder, I'm not sure if I'm going to start pumping out moulding's or not. I need to get some things straighten out with my dust collection before I consider that a possibility. I need to put a cyclone in front of the baghouse, and automate the chips getting blown into a dumpster or trailer. I bought it because I couldn't find a decent used S4S machine for what I wanted to spend, and for just a bit more I got a good used moulder. It does open some possibilities for selling trim, which where I'm located could be a nice little revenue stream. I've been told by a few guys that sell trim packs along side their cabinets, and the trim end of things is far more profitable than the cabinets. I haven't paid for it, or taken delivery yet, just agreed to buy it yesterday over the phone. I need to wait until after the first of the year to write the check.

    Mark, one of the main reasons my new shop ended up where it is, is because of property taxes, and a more lenient code demand for what I could build. This same building in the industrial park where I wish it was, couldn't be built the way it is. I would've had to do tip ups, or block, I would've had to sprinkle, and many other things. It would've cost me more than a million dollars by the time I bought the dirt and met the restrictions of the covenant to build in that park. Then, the property taxes would've been probably close to $50k a year. I got this built for less than a half million, I've got enough dirt to have 150k sq/ft if I wanted, easily. I'm 45 minutes from the area I work in most, which isn't awesome, but I can drive quite a bit for the $40k a year I save in taxes. There's a severe handicap though, there's pretty slim pickings for talent to draw from. People from the suburbs think driving out here is like driving to the edge of the earth.
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  10. #25
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    I'm surprised by how "low" some of you guys charge.
    I am not in business of doing these things (even though I have been asked by several if I'd do it for them).
    When I did stuff for my own house (cabinets included) I got quotes before doing it myself. The ball park cost I got for the entire house (kitchen + 5 bathrooms + laundry) was $70-100k just cabinets (not counter-tops). I ended up spending around $25k in material which included paying around $9k to buy the 144 doors/drawer fronts (super glad I changed my mind about building them myself with so many other things going). It took me about roughly 3 months of my time though to do the rest and finish/install everything (not my day job). So not bad for saving $45-75k at the end and getting a result I can't complain a single bit about.

    One other point I have learned from an experienced guy: doing everything in house does not make economical sense. You might be far ahead if you sub-out some of the work (e.g. making the doors) to a well-equipped factory. The extra time you get might put you a lot ahead. For me, that $9k I paid on buying the doors was worth every single penny. I'm sure it would be close to that price for me to just buy the lumber and hundreds of hours of work and it wouldn't be as flaw-less of product as I got for that $9k I paid.

  11. #26
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    I still sub out raised panel and mitered doors. Not worth my time or shop space. I mark them up 10%. I would mark them up more, but would lose the job if I did.
    -Lud

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by mreza Salav View Post
    doing everything in house does not make economical sense
    I must have accidentally deleted my response from my phone,

    Jist was that if I am/were able to sub out or had slogs of work on deck I most definitely would but... We dont do kitchens a lot and we are in an area where people who come in for that type of work will most generally ask what we make. They have been to other shops (that buy in nearly everything, even some pre-cut carcass material) and they simply arent going to pay a "custom cabinet maker" to assemble bought in parts (all the parts the customer sees and interacts with). Oddly even if your numbers were competitive with the home centers they still would ask the question and judge you differently. We've had it happen several times.

    The topic is hotly debated in the industry, some say that your not a "cabinet maker" if your just assembling purchased parts, some say its all about the bottom line and speed and profit, some mix the two and bring in sub'd material when they are covered up but keep the hours in-house when they need to.

    We are/would be in the last column. The last large-ish job we did in-house was about 140 fronts and doors in an entire home of cabs. I tracked the doors and drawer boxes through the entire process and we could easily be competitive on 5/8" solid maple dovetail drawer boxes and closer but still competitive on doors. This was all cope and stick overlay so were not talking mitered/beaded insets, but on drawer boxes, even without an automated dovetailer and a drawer clamp we were very much ahead keeping it in-house.

    But most definitely, the economics are there if you are burried with other work and have 10 kitchens on deck, and the customers dont give a hoot who makes the parts, I'd sub.
    Last edited by Mark Bolton; 12-07-2017 at 4:08 PM.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  13. #28
    I don't agree with the comment you can't even pay yourself $5 per hour to make them yourself and save money. I did not keep track of hours but I built one kitchen and it wasn't that terribly time consuming as I remember it. A lot would depend on how you made it and how much woodworking you have done. As an extreme example, my last house had a site built kitchen made of 1x softwood and birch plywood. It had stock moldings to dress it up with pruchased doors. It was thrown together (almost literally) by the finish carpenter and an apprentice. I hated it because of how it was built. 18 gauge brads, glue, and butt joints. I can and have done everything that guy did but I would not at this point - too crude. But the hours involved for the whole kitchen were less than 100. I don't know what he got but I'm pretty sure it was more than $500. If I could work that crudly I could work that quickly.
    Kitchen cabinets are not high end workworking in my book. Especially if you buy the doors. If you can make decent furniture you can make kitchen cabinets. I am also convinced you can save a bunch of money. The only real question is whether you have the time and whether you wife will be OK with you taking the time and doing it. I do not think I could pay myself what I get paid for my full time job but I think I could make what a carpenter makes for building it.

  14. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I do not think I could pay myself what I get paid for my full time job but I think I could make what a carpenter makes for building it.
    There in lies the rub. I feel that I am (we in the trade are) deserving having bought and paid for a building and land, quality equipment, and studied my craft, to get paid what you get paid at your full time job. I too have lived a home with cabs that sound like your guy may have built them. Birch ply, birch ply doors, built on site, no backs, epoxy slides or better yet center mount slides with plastic bumpers nailed into the face frame.

    If the hours were 100 for a carpenter and a helper to build the cab's, in my world (coming from a lifetime in the General contracting business) that would be in todays dollars perhaps $45 and hour? $28 and hour for the carpenter and $15 for his helper? If I were working on-site, bringing and supplying my own tools, running and designing the job, procuring, ordering, paying for, materials, and working for you, I would never be on-site with a helper for 45 an hour. You cant pay your taxes, insurance, and overhead on yourself, your truck, and your helper, for 45 an hour.

    So the 45 an hour puts the 100 hour cobbled kitchen at 4500 in labor, who knows what in materials, ply, hinges, door hardware,.. were closing in on the low end numbers in the thread and we are talking about a site built kitchen with unfinished interiors, likely unfinshed drawer inner and outers, the wife has to put contact paper on all the raw shelves and cabinet bottoms. I know, in our modest shop, we cant knock out a pretty detailed kitchen in 100 hours. Not going to happen.

    As you say, there is nothing elusive about building kitchen cabinets. Its not that complicated (kinda ;-) ). But it takes a long time in a shop that runs them daily (not us), and it takes way longer than that in a home/basement/garage shop and even longer if you add up everything from going and picking out the material, to the last sweeping of the floor. As I said, if you love it, and are fine with trading your time for savings its great. If your in a market where cab prices are through the roof (Mreza's post) it may make sense. But a cabinet shop doesnt track numbers and project several weeks lead time to build a set of cabs because they are sitting around taking 3 hour lunches and lolligagging their way through the project. Its because thats the man hours it takes.

    I know what my time is worth whether its working on my car, mowing my lawn, or painting the house.
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  15. #30
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    Time is everything. Labor time is the reason I sub out raised panel and mitered doors. On top of that, I can never build 100 (let alone 200) doors in 10 days and reach the quality that I get from WalzCraft. Hell, I can't build 1 door in 10 days at the quality they build them. I don't own the machinery. I don't even have a widebelt (mouths agape and wondering why, I know). Flat panel and flat panel with applied molding I'll do all day.

    I make up the profit-loss in the finishing of cabinets when I have to sub out doors.

    Furthermore, I'm just a 2 man shop. Me and another.
    -Lud

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