Ways to determine/calculate material for project

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Forum topic by pgc posted 06-20-2013 05:25 AM 1328 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 2953 days

06-20-2013 05:25 AM

I want to make several of the box projects in Gary MacKay’s book “Box-Making Projects.” A great book!

I am trying to figure out how to determine or calculate the wood for say 3 boxes. Each box has its parts and each part its dimensions and size. Example: Triangle Box requires 2 pieces 1/4×5 1/2×6 1/4 for the box in Maple. Another box may require 2 pieces of wood close to the Triangle Box.

What are some ways to layout the required wood stock for each box / part and at same time combine the sizes to cut from larger piece of wood. I looked at some of the software CutList, etc. but did not find any for small pieces like for these boxes.


-- Phil

4 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11613 posts in 2376 days

#1 posted 06-20-2013 07:30 AM

What you need to do is enter the part sizes and then the stock size and it will calculate the optimum cut list accounting for grain direction. Tricky if you are buying rough, so you’ll have to find a width/length available from your lumberyard and plug it in ahead of time. For example if I were using padauk, I know I can buy it in 4, 6, or 8 inch widths (roughly) by 10’ lengths so I pick one and my stock size is (e.g. 1×6x120). Hopefully that makes sense.

-- Rick M,

View pgc's profile


9 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 06-20-2013 01:01 PM

Thanks. This helped to clarify and to make a decision to purchase CutList.

-- Phil

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3240 days

#3 posted 06-20-2013 03:47 PM

The really best way is to layout all the pieces using a CAD program like Autocad. Another way is to make full size templates cut from paper. You can then arrange them to fit the stock you are using.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10382 posts in 3644 days

#4 posted 06-20-2013 04:03 PM

One of the annoyances of woodworking is the need to
overbuy lumber. Eventually you get a collection going,
but maybe you’d prefer not to have the money tied
up in it. You can try to sell off scrap but short pieces
aren’t worth much.

It’s not like buying fabric where the material is uniform
and can be put together in any way you like to make
larger pieces.

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