Cutting Diagrams and Material Lists

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Forum topic by RandyM posted 02-16-2015 06:54 PM 1060 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 3253 days

02-16-2015 06:54 PM

I’m writing an article for Woodsmith Magazine about Materials Lists and Cutting Diagrams. I’d like your comments and feedback. I’ve included a sample of our typical Materials List and Cutting Diagram.

1. Do you find a Materials List helpful? If so, how? If not, what would help improve it?
2. Do you understand how the dimensions are listed for each part?
3. What do you like or dislike about the Materials List? What do you like about the materials list? What would help improve it?
4. With regards to the cutting diagram, do you find it useful? If so, in what way? If not, what would help improve it?
5. Do you take the cutting diagram to your lumber supplier and expect to find the exact boards shown?
6. Do you understand how the dimensions are listed for each board?
7. Do you purchase the exact quantity of lumber shown or do you purchase additional lumber to account for defects, bad grain appearance, or color when cutting parts to rough size?

What other comments or suggestions do you have regarding materials lists and cutting diagrams?

Randy Maxey, Senior Editor, Woodsmith Magazine

7 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2350 days

#1 posted 02-16-2015 07:22 PM

1) I find them helpful as a place to start.
2) Yes, I understand the dimensions.
3) The most useful thing to me is the list of hardware.
4) The cutting diagrams are the least useful for lumber, however they are nice for panel products like plywood.
5) I never expect to find the boards as shown at my supplier.
6) Yes, I understand the dimensions.
7) I generally purchase at least 20% additional lumber, that way I can select the best pieces for each part based on grain and match grain direction and pattern for showy parts like table tops. It also allows me to remove defects like knots or barks seams, etc.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View mramseyISU's profile


534 posts in 1544 days

#2 posted 02-16-2015 09:09 PM

Randy one thing I wish you guys would add is a plywood cutting diagram similar to what you do with the lumber. I spend hours laying it out to try and make efficient use of plywood. It may not be a big deal if you’re using the $45/sheet stuff from home depot but when you’re using the high dollar stuff that makes a big difference.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View johnstoneb's profile (online now)


2915 posts in 2171 days

#3 posted 02-16-2015 09:24 PM

x1 Bondo Gaposis.

The cutting diagrams for lumber are almost totally useless. I usually buy at least 50% more lumber. I can select for grain and color plus I like having extra lumber sometimes able to make additional projects without needing to purchase anything.
The plywood cutlist are a good place to start but don’t take into account grain direction. They aren’t always the beat way to cut. I never just cut according to the diagram. I always look it over. I have found that cutlist on Sketchup almost always can be improved on .
I do like the hardware list and the supplier lists also. I don’t always use the suppliers but they are a fall back.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Redoak49's profile


3244 posts in 1987 days

#4 posted 02-16-2015 10:32 PM

When I do cutting list for myself, I do it in Excel. This lets me sort by type of wood and thickness. I use this to layout my parts on the boards which are generally not of uniform width. I buy it from a saw mill kiln dried, planed one pass each side and one side straight line ripped. I will spread out boards and layout parts with the figure of grain.

Perhaps give some thought to being able to download a table of parts.

Good idea for plywood cutting diagram.

Glad someone is asking.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8190 posts in 2575 days

#5 posted 02-16-2015 10:36 PM

“What other comments or suggestions do you have regarding materials lists and cutting diagrams?”

A picture is useful of the item that you’re building. Visualize

View bonesbr549's profile


1549 posts in 3066 days

#6 posted 02-16-2015 11:56 PM

I’ve built with their lists before and they are starting points to get you in the ball park. I generally get one base started and from they base all other cuts from that instead of cutting parts and hoping you did not make an error.

In other words, I let the piece dictate where it goes. you will find as you build like a case, it may differ by a 1/16” or 1/8” and thats ok. And I never ever build my doors for a cabinet till the case is done. Custom fit those suckers.

I remember one of my first pieces, I cut all the parts, and then started assembling. It was a disaster. Learned my lesson. Kinda funny looking back on it now.

I use sketchup now for designing my pieces, and use the cutlist pluggin. Great and it will provide a cutlist. I use it to estimate BF calculations only. Most helpful when a potential client wants to modify a piece. I can adjust the drawing and quickly determine how much extra materials (+waste factor) I need to price in the design.

Take care.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2440 days

#7 posted 02-16-2015 11:59 PM

While I like the lumber cutting diagrams in Woodsmith, I generally used them more as a guideline than something to follow. Finding rough lumber in the same dimensions as used to make the cut list / diagram is rather difficult and not really worth the effort. Having said that, I’d be pretty disappointed if they went away from the Woodsmith projects as they do help visualize IMO.

As others have mentioned, the plywood cutting diagrams are much more useful because it’s based off of standard sizes.

Answers to your questions:
1) Yes. I tend to use it as a checklist.
2) For the most part, yes
3) Even with the materials list, I still sometimes end up doing relative dimensioning because of variations in finished stock thickness. Would be nice if it were made clear which dimensions are dependent on other dimensions (thicknesses really)
4) Sort of (see above)
5) I take it with me, but have little to no expectation of finding matches
6) Yes
7) Always extra, but I try to limit to +10-15% BF whenever possible. If I can’t get that close, say min quantity is about 60-70% extra, I’ve just rounded up to twice the materials needed and made two, one to give away.

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