Using a Cut List - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-28-2019, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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Using a Cut List

Most plans will include a cut list, but how many of us actually use it to our best advantage?

There has been a lot of discussion lately about accuracy, which is important but not a critical as repeatability which can only be accomplished by setting a fence or stop once and making every cut of that dimension.

Don't try to break a large sheet down cutting the parts to the required size, cut them a bit larger, then when all the parts are cut set up your table saw fence or stop to each dimension and go through the list for each dimension which will result in every required part being exactly the same same length and width.
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-28-2019, 08:11 PM
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I donít often use cut lists since 90% of what I build I design myself and I normally donít bother producing a list. The big exception though is when Iím building European style cabinets. Iíve built quite a few for our house and so early on, I went to the trouble of creating an Excel spreadsheet which produces a cut list. For example, if I enter the box dimensions, it produces a list of panel sizes for the box, and also dimensions for rail, stiles, and panels for the doors and end panels. I use the list when breaking down full sheets to get nominal size pieces. This gets done outside with a circular saw. Then as Frank suggests, I cut to final size in my shop using a table saw. Iíve found the use of a cut list to be very useful in eliminating cutting errors.
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post #3 of 13 Old 12-29-2019, 11:59 AM
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I've been working as a professional woodworker for nearly 30 years now, I do all of my own design work, and unless it's a small, one-off piece, or a piece with a lot of irregular sizing and shapes, I nearly ALWAYS make a cut list. Many times, I have averted mistakes by catching them on paper before cutting material. Cut lists also help me determine my most efficient use of material, minimizing waste and unnecessary cost. And if there are a lot of components, such as kitchen cabinets, it makes it possible to keep track of what's what.
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post #4 of 13 Old 12-29-2019, 01:33 PM
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Although I am not nearly the accomplished woodworker as some, I agree completely with the process described here. Cut down sheet goods to get workable sizes and finish sizing them by setting the fence or stop for consistent dimensions.

In the past, I would hand lay out the initial cut list, either using pad and pencil or a CAD program. A few months ago, I discovered an online app that performs this task well enough that I use it as an initial guide, to figure out if there are layouts that optimize the number of pieces I can get out of a sheet, be it a full sheet or what I have on hand. It allows designation of grain direction and whether to heed the grain, as well as individual sizes of sheets and type of material, quantities, etc.

I now use it regularly, as I said as an initial guide, using my judgement when it comes to actual cutting. It helps a lot in determining if I have enough sheet stock available. What I have not found is whether it allows for marking sheets for blemishes, such as knots or patches, that I want to avoid. That would be very nice, as, as careful as I try to be, I still find some showing up where I didn't want them.

There are a number of these online apps available and I have tried only this one, but like it. For now I use it on my PC. It is not available for iOS devices, but is for others, via Google Play. I have found one that is similar for iOS, but I've not used it yet, so will not comment further on it.

https://www.cutlistoptimizer.com/

Rick

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post #5 of 13 Old 12-29-2019, 03:45 PM
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What Frank has suggested is the best way to break sown a large sheet. That is, UNLESS you have one of those $25,000 CNC systems that can machine your parts from a single sheet.

BTW - The huge advantage to a cut list is that you do the set up once for many identical parts. Then on to the next setup and part.

Rich
In furniture 1/32" is a Grand Canyon
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-29-2019, 04:44 PM
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It depends on what I'm making. I do a lot of single-purpose rigs for various projects out of 2x4 or 2x6 construction lumber, so I don't care so much about the cost of waste, plus I will eventually use the scraps for something. If the material is costly or limited I will absolutely measure everything out and use a cut list.
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post #7 of 13 Old 12-29-2019, 10:49 PM
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All my cut lists are always on graph paper. I dont need a ruler or tape, just count boxes.
Once I draw my sheet goods parts I cut them to size. as I go. then I slowly start assembly if it is a cabinet type job like a dresser or chest. I cut the tops, bottoms and sides first. I make my dados or whatever and dry fit and clamp together. Then I measure again, with the dados cut and then cut my dividers and set them in place. And so on and so forth. I have learned from experience not to cut everything all at once. If a slight error in calculation or in the cuts themselves should happen, it's easier to now cut the parts now than figure out how to work with already cut parts that might not fit.

With hardwood boards, I always purchase 20% additional. I also buy the longest and widest boards when practical. This leads to less cut-off waste. Then cut to size the largest pieces first. if I screw up a cut and cut too short, I can use it where i need a smaller piece.

Example: I cut the table top boards first and glue them up Then I cut, mortise and taper the legs. Then I will cut my 4 apron pieces adding in the length for the tenons. Then dry fit everything on the upside down table top and check the overhang. Then partially disassemble and dado the front and rear apron pieces for the interior supports and drawer supports. then dry fit everything together again. Now that I am confident, I can prepare for the drawer front opening as well as the area for the drawer slides and a dado all around and on these pieces for the slot for the slots for "Z" clips to attach the table top.

So basically, I have a cut list on paper so I know what cut piece goes where, but in actuality, I cut as I go. A whole lot less waste of time and lumber and aggravation.

And yes, I leave enough room on my cut list and assembly sketches for notes like slight changes in dimensions for screwed up cuts.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx

Last edited by Tony B; 12-29-2019 at 10:55 PM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 12-30-2019, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
I've been working as a professional woodworker for nearly 30 years now, I do all of my own design work, and unless it's a small, one-off piece, or a piece with a lot of irregular sizing and shapes, I nearly ALWAYS make a cut list. Many times, I have averted mistakes by catching them on paper before cutting material. Cut lists also help me determine my most efficient use of material, minimizing waste and unnecessary cost. And if there are a lot of components, such as kitchen cabinets, it makes it possible to keep track of what's what.
^ this.

For speed I tend to do a specific type of cut (e.g. all the rails of a cabinet) in one big go. The cut list gives me the totals I need at a quick glance.

I draw my plans onto isometric graph paper ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VYDIJZ0 ), with measurements. This type of 3D project view makes it very easy for me to create my cut lists. I've tried software such as SketchUp, but pencil to paper seems much less cumbersome, and more permanent.
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post #9 of 13 Old 12-30-2019, 11:17 AM
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Until @AwesomeOpossum74's post, I had never heard of isometric graph paper. I can't draw anything worth a dang, but that graph paper looks like a helpful aid. Thanks for sharing!

I have seen and used some very unusual graph paper in the past; a few pages of each are yellowing in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. None of it is like isometric graph paper. Neat stuff. Gotta give it a try!

Print Your Own Graph Paper:

I also learned about free websites that let you print your own graph paper of many types, including some of the unusual ones from my past. Until today, I did not know they exist. I can't vouch for any website in particular, but you can find a few for yourself with a quick web search for "print graph paper". They make it easy if you need a few sheets of a particular graph paper to try out.

... But don't knock professionally printed pads. The specialty papers they use have surface texture and transparency properties that make them better than ordinary printer paper for some uses. Both kinds have their place.
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-30-2019, 11:21 AM
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For sheet goods, its the only way I go. CutlistPlus it is an excellent program I highly recommend.


You have to be very organized, label your parts as you go, and stay focused, and go one sheet at a time.

Dimensional lumber is another matter entirely. Depending on what I'm building, I often use Cutlist to estimate materials, then always buy at at least 20% over to account for defects, grain matching, etc. It is necessary to go to your supplier first to see what widths and lengths they have in stock.
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post #11 of 13 Old 01-04-2020, 08:37 PM
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Most cut guys done worry about what's on the cultists and tge better guys understand the parts and catch certain things that some dont.. Must be why typically new shop guys are grunts and older farts like myself are called cabinet makers. I cost you more, but I save you more... equals out I think.... I only oversize parts on factory ends to get good end aND factory edges. . After that I cut everything to size. Think twice, cut once....Bob
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post #12 of 13 Old 01-04-2020, 08:57 PM
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On small stuff out of pine I do a pencil layout, with more costly hardwood I do a Autocad drawing and then a cut list layout to maximize the wood (what lengths and widths would be best) before I buy it
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post #13 of 13 Old 01-17-2020, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terryh View Post
I don’t often use cut lists since 90% of what I build I design myself and I normally don’t bother producing a list. The big exception though is when I’m building European style cabinets. I’ve built quite a few for our house and so early on, I went to the trouble of creating an Excel spreadsheet which produces a cut list. For example, if I enter the box dimensions, it produces a list of panel sizes for the box, and also dimensions for rail, stiles, and panels for the doors and end panels. I use the list when breaking down full sheets to get nominal size pieces. This gets done outside with a circular saw. Then as Frank suggests, I cut to final size in my shop using a table saw. I’ve found the use of a cut list to be very useful in eliminating cutting errors.

I'm kind of an excel geek (not meaning good at it, just interested in it's capabilities). If you are willing to share your workbook, it'd be awesome. If not, I get it...I've made things that have taken hours to finish and then some [email protected]$$ like me comes along and says "hey can I take a look at all your hard work....for free?" :) . So if you'd rather not, I really do understand...just saw the word "Excel" and got excited lol.


And for what it's worth, SketchUp is a great program for doing cut lists. Make a 4x8 rectangle and pull it up 3/4 (although that part really don't matter much) then start "building" your individual pieces. I usually leave 1/4" between each piece for the kerf (overkill, yes...but better than having the last piece short). Anyhow, it works great. If you're familiar with SU, you'll know what I'm talking about...if not, it's a pretty easy program to learn.

Last edited by jproffer; 01-17-2020 at 12:14 PM.
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