A Guide on Woodworking Cut Lists

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Newbies often buy materials that are either too much or less than their project needs. Ultimately, they end up wasting time and money on matters that can be solved by making a good woodworking cut list. 

To save you from all that trouble, here’s a straightforward method suggested by our resident woodworkers for creating a proper cutting list. 

What is a Cut List in Woodworking?

First off, why do most professionals recommend having a woodworking cutting list? The simple answer is to maximize resources and productivity when handling a demanding project. 

Some woodworkers also refer to it as a material list because it involves listing materials or parts you’ll be needing in the project’s construction. It includes crucial project details like material type and quantity. It would help if you also input the workpiece’s depth, length, and width.

Aside from a cutting list, you can prepare your woodworking kit for beginners so you can easily list down and access the tools you need to finish the project. 

Drawings and Columns

Drawing an accurate woodworking plan and organizing its details in a column is a proven and tested method of making an effective cut list. Above everything else, the drawing or mockup project will serve as the key element that will guide the creation of this list. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ll draw the plan by yourself or utilize a pre-made option–what’s important is you insert the right measurements into the cut list columns to avoid faulty construction. 

woodworking cut list

You can arrange the list however you like, but our resident woodworkers recommend listing the solid wood parts before the material sheets. We suggest assigning codes or abbreviations to the parts for better and easier organization. 

One column should indicate the total quantity assigned to each material based on your project design. After that, there should also be columns for their thicknesses, widths, and lengths. If you want, indicate in one of the labels if the specifications are rough estimations. 

It would also help if the cut list included a note section where you could put specific woodworking instructions or note the wood type. 

How Do You Make a Cutting List?

Your project’s cutting list could be a simple spreadsheet with all the precise material details to make your lumberyard shopping worthwhile and less expensive. Aside from finding the nearest lumberyard, here are the important elements and steps you should take when making one. 

Layout

When crafting a layout for your cut list, don’t forget that the basic rule of thumb for writing down dimensions is thickness x width x length. Some newbies may get confused by this, so our team recommends following the grain’s direction. 

woodworker in his shop

If your layout has materials labeled under rough sizes, remember to indicate this properly in the cut list. You should also mention in the note’s section if the part is cut to create multiple parts through other means like resawing. Besides that, it’s advisable to mark or label excess materials. 

Although you’ll be basing the measurements on the drawing plan, the project parts should be at least 1 inch longer and ¼-inch wider than the initial lumber dimensions [1]. Allow them to sit stickered for some days before milling them or taking them to the sawmill. 

Relative Dimensioning

After you note all the part’s dimensions, you’ll need to pinpoint which of these materials are key elements to your project. It’s how you determine which material comes first during the cutting process. 

setting cutting parameters for a wooden cabinet on Sketchup

Typically, you cut the key parts first and work on the “relative” materials to complete the framework. You can add it as a note on each part so you wouldn’t get confused later.

Cutting List Software

Like woodworking modeling programs, you can use an advanced cut list tool to ease your material list creation. You can also search online for available templates. 

FAQ

Can SketchUp give me a cut list?

Yes, SketchUp can give you a cut list. The software has an extension that generates the cutting specifications of each part you modeled in the program. 

Can Fusion 360 make a cut list?

Yes, Fusion 360 can make a cut list. You just have to install its add-on, allowing you to export the material specifications and cutting list in different formats.

Conclusion

While some may think a woodworking cut list requires too much effort, our pros assure you that this process will ease your project experience and expenses. 

After all, woodworking works well with good accuracy and insight. If you follow instructions and templates, this method isn’t as tedious as you think. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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