Q. As we look at improvements in our cabinet operation, we seem to believe that improvements in yield are much more valuable than improvements in the cost of labor or machinery. Does this make sense to you?

A. Yes, I do agree with you. Improvements in yield are often three times more important (financially) than savings in labor or machine cost. Stated another way, the wood cost of manufacturing the final product is often around 75 percent of the total production cost. So, this means improvements in yield will have a bigger impact than labor savings. (Of course, safety is always the #1 item, so yield is #2.)

However, before becoming too concerned about yield, we must also consider the cost of the raw material. As an example, when we buy No.1 common oak, we might get 60 percent yield. If we looked at No.2 Common grade, the yield might drop to 50 percent, but because No.2 costs half as much as No.1, the overall cost when using No.2 is less than when using No.1, considering yield, longer time to process, and so on.

Gene Wengert, “The Wood Doctor” has been training people in efficient use of wood for 35 years. He is extension specialist emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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