All Replies on Cut as you Build or Cut first THEN Build?

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View TwistedRedneck's profile

Cut as you Build or Cut first THEN Build?

by TwistedRedneck
posted 04-09-2010 03:09 PM

20 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3449 days

#1 posted 04-09-2010 03:19 PM

What I do is cut all like pieces at one time. I do this because once I set up a jig, or the table saw I want to be sure all like pieces are exactly the same width and length. So typically I will start out and when I come to a point where there are duplicate pieces, I cut all of those at once, then I start assembly until I get to another point where there are more duplicate pieces then cut those all together. I dont like to cut all plan pieces at once before assembly because sometimes there are slight variations in length/width from the plan so I want to verify those pieces with the assembled pieces to be sure I have the correct size before I cut them.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View skeeter's profile


233 posts in 3310 days

#2 posted 04-09-2010 03:24 PM

Whats a plan?

-- My philosophy: Somewhere between Norm and Roy

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3043 days

#3 posted 04-09-2010 03:25 PM

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question. For me it really depends on the nature of the project.

I like to cut everything that requires the same saw setting at one time but I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself. I could envision cutting all the pieces for the base of the wishing well at one time and then assembling the base. Then move ahead and cut the pieces for the next phase.

FYI – sometimes its a good idea to sand and finish as you go because early in the assembly process you may have easier access to these portions of the project.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View TwistedRedneck's profile


41 posts in 3460 days

#4 posted 04-09-2010 03:41 PM

Thats basically the same Idea I have or do. My primary machine in my shop is my RAS and I tend to set it up and make multiple pieces at the same size when I need them. I like the accuracy it has. However sometimes you can get a little over confident and miss that little wood sliver that has come off and lodged itself between your next piece and the fence or stop and boom, you are not cutting pieces that are not long enough or no longer straight.

I was just curious if I have taught myself wrong or if it is the norm to cut as you go. So only a few responses but I think I am on the right track. Thanks.

-- Nails are better wood fasteners than screws, if both are applied using a hammer.

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 3537 days

#5 posted 04-09-2010 03:47 PM

I’m with richg, it depends on what I’m building. Some time’s it’s crucial to cut all the pieces at once to make sure they are identical (cut on the same setup), other times you want to custom cut as you go. Sometimes, its both in the same project – I’ve fiddled with box making and found it best to cut the side in matching pairs, and then cut the top and bottom to fit the sides.

One caveat though – if I’m milling my material, it’s all milled before hand.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View buffalo689's profile


175 posts in 2976 days

#6 posted 04-09-2010 06:53 PM

I’m with skeeter..

-- bill

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3862 days

#7 posted 04-09-2010 07:04 PM

with few exceptions. I cut every single, machine every single part, sand every part and then assemble. Sometimes the parts list is in the thousands.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3255 days

#8 posted 04-09-2010 07:25 PM

Depends. In my door shop—-high production, we cut everything from a computer generated list, and then machine parts. However, at home for personal projects, I usually cut as needed. Here I’m usually making things up as I go, so I fit each part individually.


View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3005 days

#9 posted 04-09-2010 07:34 PM

I can tell you from experience,....PATTERNS ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT! I cut a lot on the scroll saw and with patterns such as this, it is not uncommon to have several cuts, some as many as 300+ in one piece. I recently had an experience with a piece with 279 cuts that I found out AFTER the fact was sized incorrectly on the “plans”. CUT AS YOU GO!!! JMO

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2952 days

#10 posted 04-09-2010 07:36 PM

Which plan? I sometimes might use 3 or 4 plans on a project I want to build, if I use a plan at all. The only thing I might use a cut list for is in lieu of a material list. I do tend to create my own cut list for pieces that are the same dimensions to ensure accuracy in my cuts, and to avoid constant setting changes. Like you said being self taught everyday is a learning lesson. In my self taught philosophy, I have learned if it works good, if not find another way.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TwistedRedneck's profile


41 posts in 3460 days

#11 posted 04-09-2010 09:19 PM

One thing I have found that does work for me if I decide to cut first is to make sure they are rough cut (oversize). Example would be ripping plywood down to a manageable size that can be re-cut on the table saw for a more accurate dimension.

Now I can see if I was doing this for a living, creating the same thing in a production atmosphere as Kent Shepherd mentioned.

Derek Lyons I see your point and that makes sense as well. You want to make sure that the front back or sides match when making a box or cabinet.

Looking at some other plans I see around my shop and wood working magazines, they all say the same thing, cut all pieces to length or something to that effect. A little common sense to me is that you cut as you go because like Cozmo35 mentioned, the “patterns,” or plans are not always correct.

I did run into an issue with cutting a hexagon pattern in the past that would have taken the same width, length and thickness of boards all around it but after careful setup and cutting I found out that I ended up with a hexagon that had uneven edges. Some at 5-1/2” some at 5-1/4” and some at 6”. Apparently I did not have things set up properly on that one. But if I had followed the plan, I would have cut the boards for the sides and they would have been wasted as far as the width was concerned.

-- Nails are better wood fasteners than screws, if both are applied using a hammer.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 2979 days

#12 posted 04-09-2010 09:43 PM

relative dimensioning

First I cut all parts to rough size (~1/2-1” oversize). Then measure off the project itself and nibble as I go. Takes a lot of more cuts this way, but the reward is a tighter fit and more room for error.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3636 days

#13 posted 04-10-2010 01:14 AM

For cabinetry I rip everything to width, stack it and then crosscut to length as needed. For most everything else I think in terms of groups. Legs, aprons, drawer sides etc. One of the best ways to ensure success is cutting all like items at the same time. Tiny deviations add up quick.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View cstrang's profile


1832 posts in 3137 days

#14 posted 04-10-2010 01:22 AM

I usually make a cut list for my projects and break out the sheet stock to exact dimensions, but I cut solid to rough dimensions first and later cut it to the exact size I need.

-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

View ToddTurner's profile


144 posts in 3292 days

#15 posted 04-10-2010 02:00 AM

Do whatever works for you.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3002 days

#16 posted 04-10-2010 02:04 AM

I have never used a plan. I sketch. The first cut piece pretty much decides for me what the actual size of anything will be :)
Then I cut as I go along.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2966 days

#17 posted 04-10-2010 03:13 AM

I am a man, don’t read instruction manuals, road maps or plans. And when I am driving and get lost….I don’t ask for help, I pretend we are on the right road and just wanted her to see this fine part of the city.
Actually I generally blueprint everything out first on my graph paper. (Now computorized) Making sure I layout the pieces to get maximum value from wood. If I need matching grains on doors I cut them from same sheet and set them aside. Most of my projects are created from SEVERAL different things I have seen in past.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View woodism's profile


46 posts in 2946 days

#18 posted 04-10-2010 10:08 AM

Plans are good till you screw up… then you have a design opportunity…. the more this happens , the sooner you won’t need plans anymore.

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4222 days

#19 posted 04-12-2010 02:52 PM

OK – my two cents:

When I’m working with power tools, or doing rough dimensioning, I usually do everything first (getting rough lumber to something close to the sized pieces I need).

When working with hand tools, I tend to cut and join each piece as needed.

For most power tools/jigs, there is signifigant setup involved. The win is that once it’s set up, you can make as many of that size/shape/length as you want.

For hand tools, there’s really not any benefit from the repetition – in fact, doing things as needed tends to break things up a bit – you get to use different muscles, change your stance, etc.

This is one of the (IMO) valuable lessons that I learned from The Joiner and Cabinetmaker republished by Chris Schwarz and Joel Moskowitz.

-- To do is to be

View David "Lucky Dawg" Brown's profile

David "Lucky Dawg" Brown

440 posts in 2961 days

#20 posted 04-12-2010 03:00 PM

try it both ways and see what works for you!
You could give the same plans to twenty different people and each one
will build something different. Its a hobby not a job!!!!!!

-- dumpster diver delux

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