Inventables Community Forum

Unexpected Inconsistency in wood products, variation in sizes

I understand that organic material is not exactly reliable when it comes to mass production and certain applications. However, the issues I want to post here I do so out of the hopes that the situation can be improved or I can learn “how things work around here”.

Consider these: all of which are “supposed” to be 6x12 by 1/16th inch thick wood

Next, consider that the order consisted of 60 (30 maple and 30 cherry)

and that the work time on the table is about 3 hours for 3 boards at a time.
Because each of these pieces of wood are anywhere from 1/32nd to as much as 1/4th (+/-) each time a run is done I need to double check and create a test, then re-align the job and jig depending on how far off they are. Ended up having to make 3 different “spacers” to make em fit properly. Really increased the product time and slowed down the process.

Me and my client both laughed when we realized why all our cuts were all off on the 2nd and 3rd boards, we said “Must have been a shift change! lol. the guys that cut ON the line are gone for the day and the other guys who cut NEXT to the line finished their run”

Fine, so be it. Humans did it, I get it. But… now “measure twice cut once” has become measure 60 times and make new jigs, then change the artwork out and double check the board alignment.

I kind of feel like these should be "6x12 - 1/16th with LESS than 1/32nd of a variance… Anyway - the following series of thoughts come to mind, some of which are questions:

  • Is this to be expected every time I order?
  • Is this a fluke, only an occasional thing that is not the norm (lets say 3% of all orders are fubar like this)?
  • Is this considered an appropriate margin of error on wood from the inventables Shop?
  • In general can I expect this from any/all manufacturers on wood products?
  • Any other suppliers that people can recommend?
  • Can we get a big red disclaimer on the product page that warns us “these will be a little off, all of them, they are cut by hand to keep prices low for you (or whatever the case is)”? (would have been nice knowing what I was about to get into on this job)

I guess that happens. If i were you i would find someone that has it in sheets and cut my own. That way you know the size you are getting. I make a lot of furniture and only buy 1x12s. I cust anything and everything out of them. That way i know what size it is when it is cut. May take a bit more time but i know what i am getting.


My experience with materials is that you can’t expect any sheet goods to be totally flat or accurately cut anymore. Time is money and this stuff gets cranked out as fast as possible. As mentioned, you’d be better off doing the secondary manufacturing yourself and then you are in control of tolerances. Buy larger sheets and it’ll be more consistant at least in the parts you make from it. Smaller cut goods are a handy convenience to many, but you are subject to the accuracy of the machines set up to cut them, and the machine operators time and concern to produce those goods.

Unfortunately Christian is not talking about sheet goods. Those are hardwood pieces.
I would consider a sizing operation prior to placing them on the CNC to eliminate the variables.
Are the thicknesses consistent? That would really be a pia for production.

It doesn’t matter whether it is sheet goods or S2S lumber. The same economic, machine, and operator accuracy/inaccuracy factors are applicable to all secondary manufactured goods. When you buy larger pieces, you can control the results to your satisfaction. On top of that, you are subject to the moisture content in the area where the previous manufacturing was taking place and your own environmental conditions.

My point was that you are not going to find large pieces of 1/16" cherry and maple. Also shipping of larger pieces is not economical for general consumers.

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My local Hardwood lumber guy sells 1/4" thick boards that he himself resaws and planes down to supply that small demand. It’s not flat when you buy it…lol. It’s not cheap either. This is where having a good bandsaw and thickness sander can be a good alternative.

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I think that as others have said, time is money but reducing waste is also increasing yield. One way that manufacturers do that is by increasing tolerances. What would have been rejected years ago now passes QC. For the thickness, I guess you could use a thickness planer and fix those that are too thick and for the width, you may have to use your table saw and short of taking larger stock and cutting it to size, settle on having slightly smaller and thinner pieces.

Sheet goods are also another issue where most common sheet goods are not the thickness they claim because saving 1/32in on a million sheets means reduced costs and increase in profits but it does not help you making something of the right size. If you do the math, on a 1/2in sheet, it is an extra sheet they can sell for every 16 sheet they produce or a 6.25% increase in production for the same quantity of wood.

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Thanks guys, I get the idea of how the wind blows now…

I’ve seen what happens in a bigger manufacturing shop, but I made some judgments/assumptions based on that 1 place and wondered if they applied “everywhere”

What is being said here makes sense: time, money, demand, pushy consumers, crazy CEO’s, employees with 2 jobs coming in for the night shift, human error. Totally get it = big picture, nuanced overview.

so… I assume I can indeed expect this in the future.
(I had hoped maybe precision auto-machining was at work somewhere over the rainbow in a “bigger place”)

That brings me to the next issue: I really did want to do these in larger sheets (18x12) but I could not find anyone online who had that size in 1/16th thick and a good selection of wood, whom I would “trust” on such short notice. (My trust level for inventables was 90%, after this its 75%, still good)

I like the inventables shop, would love to have that be my one source, but having been a tattoo artist, done laser engraving, CnCing and 3d printing I know damn well you never get 1 source and you gotta make your own tools…

Any suggestions/recommendations for getting 1/16th thick woods at larger sizes (at least18x12 or bigger) without buying a whole wood-shop with a planer and a ban-saw then sourcing some “raw trees”? lol

Ideally: I am looking for a source that would provide material that is safe and pretty good quality, I also need to laser engrave the wood, so as I understand it I should not buy from China because of the chemicals they put in stuff.

(I know about Amazon, I feel that’s simply me using the search bar, lol, unless you have a specific “seller” on amazon or ebay, in which case please share)

I order from “Glowforge” [] sometimes, they seem to have some nice materials, they call “prograde”, but… they do not have the verity… and do not have 1/16th - my trust level with them is also 75% (ie: 25% of the time things are FUBAR)

I wish McMaster Carr would sell wood. I bet those guys would do it well…
Man make tools - tools not make man.

Are you looking for solid hardwood? I don’t know that you’ll find that.

yes, indeed I am.
Solid hardwood in 1/16th in 6x12 is available here on inventables, but the ideal size for me would be between 12x20 to 18x12. or… bigger sheets I could rip down…

We are curious what are you producing with 1/16 solid oak?

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Hi Christian, I do some production work on precise pieces as well. To eliminate inconsistencies in the wood blanks, I make my fixtures so that each piece of wood is referenced independently. Here is an example.

This fixture can hold 12 pieces on my 1000x1000. Each piece is referenced to the lower left corner. To make the fixture, I first constructed it as close to square as possible, but each pocket was intentionally undersized slightly. Then I did a final trim with the x-carve to flatten the bottom of each pocket and cut them to the exact size, which makes them perfectly square to my x-carve, as well as knowing the exact position of each pocket relative to machine home. Now I just need to load up the blanks, and reference the carve for each piece to the known location on the fixture.
Hope this helps.

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@ChristianWZagarskas I have had really good luck with Ocooch Hardwoods based out of Wisconsin. Very consistent dimensionally with pretty reasonable prices/shipping. The “scroll saw ready” hardwoods are sold in 24" lengths and widths vary from 4" to 12", depending on wood type (most domestic woods go up to 12" where a lot of the exotic woods stop at 8" or sometimes even only 6"). Available thicknesses vary from 1/16" up to 3/4". I think I originally was pointed in their direction by someone else on the forum so hopefully this helps.

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@AdamNorris Very nice selection.
Thank you for this. My next order will be from here.

thank you for the information

what I see in your photo is… to me… horrific… and impressive. LOL
Its impressive in the sense of “wow, nice work man!”
I am however horrified at the prospect of “engineering my own materials, before engineering a final product”

Ergo: I feel like the whole point of sourcing “ready materials” is to save time by using materials… that are ready.

On some level though… I have started to think that I might as well grab a Husqvarna and start sourcing trees since I am so picky.

Faux “Pietre dure”

As a thought, have you considered making your own plywood? rolls of veneer, glue, vacuum bag. Yeah its a little bit more complicated than that but not too much.

I am very much not interested in making my own materials - but grudgingly will, if it comes to that.

As interesting as ‘making your own plywood’ sounds (ie: post a video, love to watch it) I have as much interested in doing that as I would in turning my basement into a chemical plant and casting my own acrylic. (tone of voice here is playful, im a DIY person, but I gotta draw the line somewhere, dig?)

I was sold the “bill of goods” on the xCarve with the understanding I would be able to source materials here. turns out, that has been far more difficult than I would like it to be…

Making things, to make parts, to make the things I set out to make is a bit much of the making. At some point this is not a “home CnC” machine anymore and one needs to have a whole wearhouse. Which is a nice idea… but not what I was going for here with an Xcarve purchase for the tiny basement hobbyshop…