Cabinet finish quality
Every once in a while we do a custom window, or door, or cabinet doors, where for some reason - schedule, matching a wood or finish, using some custom veneer, some custom shape - it seems sensible to make the item in-house. As my contracting business changes, I've felt that I either need to find a way to accomplish the work more efficiently or reliably, sub it out, or stop providing some of the custom touches that have been important for some customers in the past
A big productivity killer in particular has been achieving factory quality on rail and stile construction, for example on Shaker cabinet doors. I have a nice bandsaw, good jointer, good-enough thickness planer, a decent router (running Amana cope and stick bits) but not a shaper, a mortiser that I rarely use now that I use Dominos, and a good small (10") Performax belt sander, and I don't have any problem getting the stock perfectly dimensioned and straight. I get to shaping the profiles and assembly, though, and things don't quite line up perfectly, so I spend some time (or have an employee spend the time) with sanders, getting things clean and flat. Spraying goes fine. The results are great, but it costs me way too much.
I'm curious about others' experience and suggestions about making that one step up? Is it a mistake to think this can be done efficiently in a small shop? Does it just require more time with a micrometer, adjusting things? Is there a silver bullet (a belt sander wide enough for full doors? a shaper?)?
I'm not planning to expand my cabinet-making business, just trying to figure out how to keep offering the custom details.
I'll be grateful for any advice.