Help Me Design This App!

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Forum topic by pashley posted 07-08-2014 11:45 PM 2020 views 0 times favorited 53 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1044 posts in 3959 days

07-08-2014 11:45 PM

Well, I think I’ll get away from my opinion on tools for the time being, lol.

I would like YOUR advice on a project I’m contemplating; not a wood project per se, but a “tool” of sorts. If you use iPhone apps in the workshop, this question is for you.

I’m currently designing an app that is truly helpful – at least it would be for me. Here’s the situation – I hope this app can help with – and yes, I know I can just you a pen and paper, but I’m not going that route, so please don’t suggest it.

Like you, I often have to go to the lumber yard for the next project. What I’m doing now is jotting down on paper what I need, for example, Five 6’ x 6” 4/4 QSWO boards, three 6’ x 10” x 5/4 QSWO, and one 8’ x 6” x 5/4 cherry.

Now, I don’t like surprises when I get there – such as forgetting the sheet, or being surprised at the final bill – or screwing up an estimated cost for wood for a customer. Or maybe I forgot to get a box of screws or bottle of glue while there.

So basically, I’m thinking on an app that is a board foot calculator combined with a shopping list. If that would be something you’d use, would you add anything else onto it that would be helpful, some feature, for example? If so, what?

Would you want a way to make out several lists for several jobs? Maybe your situation is you have to drive an hour for your lumber, and you get several job’s worth at a time, and this app would help you keep track? Perhaps be able to email each list to a client?


-- Have a blessed day!

53 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2558 days

#1 posted 07-08-2014 11:57 PM

An app means you have a smart phone. Would that phone have email or internet connection?

It’s tough to beat the versatility of a spreadsheet so one idea is to make individual spreadsheets for each project which would be done at the shop. Then you’d just need some method to connect to them and view them on the phone.

-- See my work at and

View dawsonbob's profile


3146 posts in 1996 days

#2 posted 07-08-2014 11:59 PM

There is an app that I use constantly, called “Out of Milk.” It does everything you need, except for board foot calculations. Bosch, and others, have board foot calculators. All of these are available for free. They’re worth taking a look at before building your own. Good luck.

JAAune brought up a point that I should have mentioned. Out of Milk lists are emailable (is that a word?)

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2602 days

#3 posted 07-09-2014 12:04 AM

Not worth it.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1806 days

#4 posted 07-09-2014 12:27 AM

I use “woodworking utilities” app for my board feet calculations and costs, there are soo many of them out there I don’t think it’s worth your time to re invent the wheel.


View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3959 days

#5 posted 07-09-2014 12:40 AM

Would a more comprehensive app be worth it? Say, one including a killer fractional calculator?

-- Have a blessed day!

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2558 days

#6 posted 07-09-2014 12:52 AM

One thing that’s a pain is adding up the board footage of lumber as it’s picked from the yard. An app that lets you insert board dimensions and automatically tallies up the total in board feet would probably be handier than a fractional calculator.

-- See my work at and

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2683 days

#7 posted 07-09-2014 03:46 AM

Well this is certainly a boring thread :)

I’ve had thoughts about this in the past, and I’ve tried writing up a couple of board feet calculators apps for myself, but in the end, I always just found the spreadsheet to be more convenient. Reason being is that I end up grouping together all of the materials I need to make rough estimates of what size boards I want to look for anyway, and invariably at the lumber yard I go to, it never seems to match up. I end up just mentally pairing up parts with individual pieces of lumber and keeping a tally of it on my printed-out spreadsheet. It’s certainly not the most efficient way, but it hasn’t failed me yet and it’s not like I have a frown on my face when I “have” to go back to the lumberyard to get some extra stock that I didn’t account for.

One idea I have had that would help that would be a way to input a BOM for parts, and when I get to the lumberyard, I input the dimensions for boards I like and the program automatically figures out what goes where and what else I have to buy. Problem with that though, is that I’m only a hobbyist and I don’t do nearly enough volume to make the effort I’d have to put into writing the program anywhere near worth it. Secondly, I find myself picking through boards and choosing ones for interesting grain patterns for specific parts. It makes the logic behind that all that much more complicated.

My ultimate dream would be to take that and automatically feed it with data from my CAD program and it creates its own BOM based on thickness and available stock sizes. But in the end, it’s not worth it for me and my weekend hobby.

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1806 days

#8 posted 07-09-2014 04:11 AM

My personal view on apps is go big or go home.

Pashley, your asking to develop a new product that already exists and has a footing in the free market place as is. If you’re serious about developing an app and have the means to do so, which I believe is apparent in your post you need to look beyond single user applications. There are far too many options for a new app to become relevant.

You need a new idea for an app that doesn’t address what is already out there. To spend time developing your app idea which is already out there seems like a colossal waste of time to me.

The woodworking app I use to figure out cost in board feet even has a dove tail function. I don’t want to burst your bubble but there are a ton of options free or buy able apps for what your looking to do.


View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3472 days

#9 posted 07-09-2014 04:48 AM

I use the Gold version of Cutlist to get detailed cutlist, layouts, cost estimates, etc.
I also have several spreadsheets for calculating parts for doors or drawer fronts.
And sometimes, I make a spreadsheet on the fly if I am having a hard time figuring out some sizes I need.

But like gtbuzz said, what you find at the lumber yard doesn’t always match what you are looking for, especially when buying rough lumber. That stuff comes in random widths and lengths.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Woodknack's profile


12469 posts in 2621 days

#10 posted 07-09-2014 04:57 AM

Android & Windows both have apps that do exactly those things, I would be surprised if there weren’t already apps for IOS. Your best bet might be to try any existing apps and see if there is room for improvement. There is always room for new apps if you can do it better for the right price.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3609 days

#11 posted 07-09-2014 05:24 AM

Rick is correct, there are a quite a few applications available for Android OS.

The one that looks most like you have described is Woodworking Utilities a by Mike B. Hill which is free from the Google play store.

I haven’t tried it but the reviews are 3.9 out of 5 which is fairly decent in this digital mobile world!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View dawsonbob's profile


3146 posts in 1996 days

#12 posted 07-09-2014 05:28 AM

The thing is, that the wheel already exists. If you can find a way to make your version rounder, with better spokes, than any existing wheel, then maybe — just maybe — you might be on to something. If all you can come up with is a new coat of paint for the existing wheel, well, why bother? There are so many apps that do what you’re talking about, and are free, to boot, that it’s a wasted effort.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View kirbi69's profile


83 posts in 1825 days

#13 posted 07-09-2014 09:27 AM

you need to make an app that has a real time road map linked with gps showing you were all the cop cars near you currently are :)

View KE4NYV's profile


138 posts in 1703 days

#14 posted 07-09-2014 12:28 PM

Sorry, but as soon as you said iOS only, I was out. I started using Woodworking Utilities for Android recently and I don’t think I would use anything else. Something pretty awesome would have to come along to make me switch.

-- Jason R.

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3959 days

#15 posted 07-09-2014 12:29 PM

Well boys, at least THIS thread isn’t generating the amount of heat the last one I started….holy cow.

Yes, you are right, there are BF calculators out there – many for free, on Android and iOS. Some of you throw up your hands right there, and say “Why bother then….” or “it’s a colossal waste of time…”

Shame on you! Don’t give up so easily.

Haven’t I taught you guys that people will pay for the best? You can get a hamburger at McDonalds for 69¢ yet people still pay north of $10 for one at a sit down restaurant, for example. People also pay top dollar for Apple computers – for example, the cheapest laptop they have starts at $899, while you can get a Windows machine at BestBuy for under $300. Why are people willing to pay so much more? Not for the prestige, believe me, but for the experience.

It’s not always just about the physical product. In my blog post, The Cheapest Add-On that Sells Products, I give the example of why Starbucks can charge so much more for coffee than a McDonalds can – and no, it’s not based on the coffee itself.

When I started using my iPhone more and more in my shop, I had a hell of a time finding a fraction calculator that had a decent interface. The way you’d enter fractions on most of them was difficult to understand. I mean, do I have to fight a damn calculator now? To top it off, the design looked amateurish. Ditto for a BF calculator. And please, no, I’m not doing those calculations in my head.

I have already designed interfaces for both a fraction and BF calculator. They offer innovations others didn’t think of, yet are very helpful. I’m paranoid about posting the screen shots here of them because I don’t want someone stealing them. Yes, sorry, but I think they are that good.

You have to remember too that when something is made more convenient, people will generally trend towards it, and be willing to pay for it.

-- Have a blessed day!

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