I had two panels bigger than the largest planer I could use for free, so I
paid a lumberyard $20 to sand them to 3/4". I have bought about $1500 of
wood from them in the last 8 months.
When I went to use them I found one didn't lay flush with the 3/4" frame it
was next to. Measuring it, I found it was 0.02" oversized. (The other one
is probably oversized also, but since it is not next to anything, it doesn't
I took it back to the lumberyard, a half hour drive. They said their DC was
down, but they would do it and call me when it was ready.
A week later I called them. It was done, they just hadn't called me. At
this point I was a bit angry; not only had they done it wrong the first
time, necessitating two extra drives out there, but then they don't even
bother to call me.
When I picked up they tried to charge me again for the work.
Was I justified in refusing to pay? It seems to me that 3/4" is 0.750", not
0.770", and it should have been done right the first time. Am I
Probably not, but look at the entire picture.
What is the standard tolerance for wood planing? I have no idea, but it
should have been mentioned before they started. Better to be over size and
correctable than under and have a total loss or more difficult fix. Lesson
learned is to check when you pick the work up.
The lack of communications internally is all too common. Yes, I'd be
Overall, it was a poor experience, but not something I'd hold a grudge
forever. If they are a good supplier otherwise, hold on to them and be
cautions next time around.
Their initial error was less than 3%, which without a specification is
within normal limits of error. If you had specified say -0 +0.0075, <1%,
they probabbly would have quoted you a higher initial cost. Greater
precision invariably means greater cost.
The wood was initially 13/16, or 0.81. They took it to 0.77" instead of
0.75". So their error was about 30%.
Ever try to put a tongue and groove together that is off by 0.02"? That is
not so terribly precise.
Nor was it cheap; I paid $20 for a job that took less than 10 minutes.
I concede I should have measured it before taking it home the first time, so
some of the inconvenience was my fault; but they still would have tried to
No, you did not tell them how much to take off, you tokd them how much to
leave on. Tolerance remains at 3%. All dimennsions have a plus or minus.
They erred on the plus side, which was god for you.
Yes, that is cheap. Stop by my shop and you will pay a minmum of $100.
Machines run at $200/hour plus material. That 10 minutes was the machine
time I'd bet. Not the time you took in the office, taking the part to the
shop, bringing it back to you etc. Today, cheap labor is $50 an hour with a
minimum of 1 hour. Skilled labor is $70 to $100, professional $150 to $250.
You don't know that. Chances are right on the spot they would have just
fixed it and all would be happy.
We do things for customers at no charge at times because the expense of
billing is more than the cost of the operation. There is a goodwill factor
also. Another consideration, was the person that wanted to charge you aware
that it was a fix, not a first time job?
For a woodworking shop that is undoubtedly true. I used to run a factory.
When someone came in asking us to plate or mill something small, we simply
declined. It really didn't matter what we charged, it wouldn't have covered
However... in the 20 times I have been there I have only seen one of their
machines in use once or twice. So the $20 represents pure profit.
Their posted rate is $60/hour; I don't actually know how long it took them,
I just figured it wouldn't have taken me more than 10 minutes if I were
doing it on their machine.
none of this matters anyway. either they or you should have specified the
tolerance. the fact that this wasnt done is/was the crux of the problem.
all else is a result of that not having been done.
It was not pure profit. The guy that did the work earned a wage, even if it
was 1/6 of an hour.
The machine used electricity and you used up some of the consumables. Small
as it is, you used some of the life of the machine. They are paying for the
machine to be there for your convenience also, both in the cost of the
machine and the space it takes up.
That twenty bucks is a little contribution to overhead and maybe a tiny
Hmm...I wonder how much Conn. teachers pull in by the hour, and
whether that is considered less than skilled or professional. <big
H, who is not trying to reopen what was probably a silly
misunderstanding, but couldn't resist. I do enjoy most of your posts.
These are rates charged by the employer, not earned by the employee. Yes, a
teacher would fall into the professional category and if the school board
operated like a business, they should charge in that range if a teacher was
subbed out like a welder or plumber.
CT teachers, though, are some of the highest paid in the country. I know a
couple that were going to retire a few years back but the wages and later
pension benefits went up so high they elected to stay to cash in. One case
in particular though, this was to the detriment of the students. Like every
other occupation, some should not be there.
Well, if you factor in all benefits, utilities, facility costs, management
costs and all of the other overhead built into the above quoted skilled and
professional labor hourly rates I bet the teacher rate is right up there. In my
district it costs about $11,500 per child for education (this is the cost those
hourly rates would need to cover). Our average class size is about 22. (That is
the class size, not the student/teacher ratio. The student teacher ratio is
about 15 due to all the specials). Thus the classroom teacher with 22 kids at
$11,500 each is "billing" the taxpayer about $250,000 per year. At 176 actual
student days and at about 5.5 instuctional hours per day (or 968 instuctional
or "billable" hours per year, this doesn't include luch or "study halls" just
like the enginner doesn't get to bill his lunch hour) it works out to around
$258 per billable hour. I realize that the teacher clearly doesn't see anything
like $258 per hour worked, but the mechanic, accountant, or the engineer do not
see anything like their billable hourly rate either. They all have to cover
overhead, vacation, training hours and everything else in their billable hourly
Tolerances/errors are always referenced to the required dimension, in this
case the error is 2.66%.
I am curious if the yard would have been interested in doing the job if you
had specified say 0.75 +- 0.005", calibration on those machines isn't
precise and depends on the grit on the machine.
The large sander I have used has no calibrations at all. You put the wood
in, and lower it until you hear it sanding. Then you lower it a half a turn
each pass until you have the right thickness.
No problem at all getting to within a few thousandths.
They didn't go beyond the 60 grit they used to cut it.
They did it wrong...pure and simple.
I would have bitched, too.
Ya done good!! lol
P.S. Just be careful who you bitch to...and who you talk to.
Employees usually don't care about the reputation of the company...and
often don't express the true sentiments of management. Make sure you
talk/bitch to someone in authority...someone in management.
Have a nice week...
What do you call a smart blonde?
A golden retriever.
Only to the extent that you can't expect quality in almost MOST things
in this modern world. You have to check.
Its a shame.
Have a nice week...
What do you call a smart blonde?
A golden retriever.
Most tapes, and even many machinist's rules, don't read in 64ths of an inch, so
it's hard to understand how you measured the wood. Or expected the lumberyard
to. And did you ever try to read the thickness of a piece of wood to a 64th
with a tape or a rule?
Oh, wait, you used a micrometer or a set of vernier or dial calipers. Did you
expect them to do the same? That's not woodworking, it's metalworking.
If you wanted the pieces to match within .02", there's an easy way to do it.
Woodworkers do it all the time. You just run all of the pieces - panels and
frame pieces - through the planer or sander at one setting.
You asked them to sand thepieces to 3/4". They did, within normal woodworking
tolerances. Try matching up two 3/4" planed boards of two different species,
or from two different lots. You'll probably find much more variation than
.02". I'd bet on it.
I probably wouldn't have charged you for the second pass. On the other hand I
might not have run them a second time - I just might have explained to you that
you were asking for something that a normal mill would not do, and handed you
back your first $20. And explained to you that if you really wanted all the
pieces to match that closely, you had to bring them all in and run them
together. Again, they didn't do anything wrong the first time. You were angry
because of the driving - hardly their fault.
Taking off an extra .02" with a scraper would have been a few minutes work.
Get some opinions from a few more millwork companies. Tell them you need some
thickness planing or sanding done, and that you'll be in with your micrometer
to check their results. Expect a few laughs.
Again, I'd probably have refunded your money or done the second pass free. On
the other hand, they just may have been thinking "What if I end up at .74" by
his micrometer? Will he expect me to replace his panels? No thanks..."
Just my opinion, though. I work both wood and metal. Metal often to .001",
very occasionally to .0001". But not wood.
If he was using something that was graduated in 64ths, how could he say with
any certainty that it measured .770 (1/64=.0156)?
Probably with calipers. They are becomming very common in woodshops, both
home and professional.
>Or expected the lumberyard
Don't know about him but I have. I'll garantee my measurements to +/-.003.
No. See above. Hobbiest woodworkers tend to get very hung up on doing things
the way they did 100 years ago saying that that was real quality.
Professionals take advantage of modern technology like anyone else.
No. For work of this kind, within a 1/64 would generally be considered max
deviation. They didn't make that.
Try matching up two 3/4" planed boards of two different species,
Out of the mill, I'm sure you would. They are not concerned with final use.
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