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Order it or make it yourself?

The other day a guy came into the shop selling pre-made drawer boxes. I have to admit he had a pretty nice product, solid maple drawers all neatly dovetailed at the corners (though obviously done by a machine). Of course, with the economy being what it is, salesmen are out in herds these days. I have not seen so many salesmen walking through my doors since the mid '90s. Even so, I was in a pretty good mood so I did not immediately give the guy the "bum's rush" but actually took a moment to look at his stuff.

Over the years, I have had more salesmen that I can count offering me pre-made drawer boxes, doors and drawer fronts, moldings and even the cabinets themselves, all precut and ready for me to put together. And, for the most part, these pre-made components have been pretty decent quality. There have been a lot of times when I was sorely tempted to "sub out" the drawers or doors on a job. But, every time, when I did the math, I ended up deciding that I might as well keep the work in the shop.

The bottom line always seemed to be that it was a wash. It would not cost me any more to make the product myself and I could keep total control of the process in house. I figured I might as well pay my own employees to make doors or drawers as to pay someone else's to do it for me. If I simply did not have the wherewithal to make these things, it would be a no brainer. I know of shops that sub out almost every aspect of the actual cabinet making so that the only thing they do in their own shop is assemble parts. But somehow that never appealed to me. I can see how someone might be attracted to this idea but for me, I just would not feel the same about my projects if everything arrived at the back door on pallets, ready to assemble.


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