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Thread: Cut list optimizer for sheet goods

  1. #1

    Cut list optimizer for sheet goods

    When cutting panels out of a sheet of plywood or other sheet goods I have always drawn everything up in AutoCAD and arranged things for optimizing the panel usage. This got me thinking there must be some tools out there on the web for optimizing panel usage. I did a quick google search and found this: http://cutlistoptimizer.com/

    Seems to work well. It doesn't always arrange them the way I would cut them from the plywood given I might want my waste pieces optimized in a different size, but for those of you who don't use CAD or other cut list optimizing software, this seems to be a pretty cool tool. It shows all dimensions, allows you to include saw kerf, and also lets you label everything... cool tool... so thought I would pass it along.

    Here's an example of how I arranged my panel vs how the tool did.

    My layout:
    cutlist1.png

    custlistoptimizer.com layout:
    custlist2.png

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Looks like a neat tool. Does it allow you to specify the direction you want then grain to run on the pieces or do you control that by the order you enter the dimensions?

  3. #3
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    There used to be another woodworking optimizer program called "Sheet Layout" that did the same thing. I still have and use a paid version of that program. For the most part it worked extremely well and it was fast. The Sheet Layout program would also do linear materials such as boards, molding, pipe, etc. I can even put leftover pieces of material in the raw materials and it would integrate them into the cutting lists and diagrams.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa Starr View Post
    Looks like a neat tool. Does it allow you to specify the direction you want then grain to run on the pieces or do you control that by the order you enter the dimensions?
    There was an option for grain direction too... I haven't tried it yet!

  5. #5
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    No cutlist optimization tool will lay things out "the way you would" (they lay them out better than that lol). It lays them out as best it can calculate mathematically based on yeild and has no ability to allow for the fact that you may like or want your drops from job "A" on the Y axis of the sheet but on this job B-2.0 you want them on the X axis. A big part is coming to the realization that giving things over to the software will usually mean seeing a bunch of things where you think your smarter than the software and the software is wrong, but when you look at your balance sheet at the end of a project you'll see that your waste material in the dumpster is less.

    I go through this regularly cutting parts for others. They would twist a part around or say oh that one part the grain orientation doesnt matter so Id have rotated, and so on. But no matter how often I take the time for the heck of it to re-orient the parts in the manner "they would have cut the sheet" and show them that they would have spread into an extra sheet or two, they dont get it. Ive sat with guys who want to make you turn this part and try to fit that part over there and wont that fit in that little waste piece and after two or three iterations I tell them we are going to lawyer style billing and every minute of shifting parts is $5. At that point the answer is that the software has it correct lol.

    Wait til you start optimizing for CNC when your logic is full lenght X/Y axis rips only and your no longer constrained by that method and parts can be tucked in small notches and waste areas. Thats when peoples heads spin because they are use to large waste drops due to cutting on a table saw.

    It sure does help your workflow and visualization.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Day View Post
    When cutting panels out of a sheet of plywood or other sheet goods I have always drawn everything up in AutoCAD and arranged things for optimizing the panel usage. This got me thinking there must be some tools out there on the web for optimizing panel usage. I did a quick google search and found this: http://cutlistoptimizer.com/

    Seems to work well. It doesn't always arrange them the way I would cut them from the plywood given I might want my waste pieces optimized in a different size, but for those of you who don't use CAD or other cut list optimizing software, this seems to be a pretty cool tool. It shows all dimensions, allows you to include saw kerf, and also lets you label everything... cool tool... so thought I would pass it along.

    Here's an example of how I arranged my panel vs how the tool did.

    [...]
    I think I wrote that previously at those fora - I wrote a program to optimize my cut list on the very beginning of the 1980s... first using FORTRAN IV and afterwards C language including the "sophistication" to define saw kerf and the grain direction for each piece... Of course I had then no graphic output but the text output was good enough... but I discovered that for my use it wasn't an exactly great idea: except for a couple of years in the 1990s I always had less than five panels (or boards) to optimize a year, so to make that manually looked me better and a fast solution. Since then I prefer to use my drawing skills to optimize panels and board cuts. I do not miss any software to make that.

    Bottom line is that kind of software optimization apps can be an overkill to some people.
    Last edited by Osvaldo Cristo; 02-17-2019 at 2:20 PM. Reason: Rephasing for better understanding
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2006
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    I just used cutlistoptimizer recently for a 10 drawer build. I was very happy with the solution. What I liked was the quick estimate of sheets needed and the graphic output.....made it easier to modify some cuts to the way my shop works.

  8. #8
    This is a pretty old thread, but thought I'd add a more recent experience. I have the least expensive version of this program, which goes for about $90. There are some very good features but it's not the easiest to use - I find some things are unintuitive, and if you don't use it regularly, you have to go back and read about how things work. They haven't updated the software in quite some time - at least a couple years and even longer for the android viewer version. (The latter now causes Android to say it was built for an older version and may not work).

    There are a lot of things that could be improved in operation but they seem to not be making any effort to do so. There's no indication on web site when it was last updated - but it hasn't happened since I purchased a couple years ago.
    I don't do wood working professionally so I'm not particularly interested in the features related to providing estimates to customers, costing, etc.
    It works well enough - but even the basic version costs enough that you might want to think twice since they don't seem to be keeping it up.

  9. #9
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    When I did my kitchen cabs 5 years ago I had 8 sheets of Hickory ply to cut for the boxes. I used MaxCut, free for guys like us. Allows you to input saw kerf, grain direction and I even printed out sticky labels to put on the stacks of parts. https://www.maxcutsoftware.com/ I just downloaded the newest version and it seems very adaptable to your situation including CNC panel cutting. I can't imagine needing more.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 05-18-2020 at 8:50 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  10. #10
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I've owned Cutlist Plus for many years. I don't use it often, but when I do, it fills the need very well. The grain direction feature is actually pretty important when the panels will be "show" in the final project...there needs to be consistency. For other projects, full size optimization without regard to veneer grain works fine, as it will when cutting materials that don't have "grain", such as MDF and MDO.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Another vote for MaxCut. Works well, and the price is right. Has a grain direction function. Stay safe everyone!

  12. #12
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    Jan 2020
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    Apex, NC
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    +1 on Cutlist Plus. I also like that you can enter the dimensions of your parts needed in hardwood and it will show you how many bf of lumber you need.
    I use it on most of my projects - especially larger ones where I need to either lay out ply or go buy lumber.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Jasper View Post
    This is a pretty old thread, but thought I'd add a more recent experience. I have the least expensive version of this program, which goes for about $90. There are some very good features but it's not the easiest to use - I find some things are unintuitive, and if you don't use it regularly, you have to go back and read about how things work. They haven't updated the software in quite some time - at least a couple years and even longer for the android viewer version. (The latter now causes Android to say it was built for an older version and may not work).

    There are a lot of things that could be improved in operation but they seem to not be making any effort to do so. There's no indication on web site when it was last updated - but it hasn't happened since I purchased a couple years ago.
    I don't do wood working professionally so I'm not particularly interested in the features related to providing estimates to customers, costing, etc.
    It works well enough - but even the basic version costs enough that you might want to think twice since they don't seem to be keeping it up.
    Michael,

    I think you're referring to Cutlist Plus - not cutlist optimizer. I bought the cheapest version of cutlist plus several years ago and I like it, but I don't remember why I decided it was the right choice at the time. I don't use most of the features but it has definitely paid for itself over the years just for optimizing my plywood usage.


  14. #14
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    I too bought Cutlist Plus and I like it. Just used it for an 8 cabinet project. With it would can specify lots of parameters and you can tell it what inventory of partial sheets you have at the start of the project.

  15. #15
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    Optimilon offers a web-based calculator that seems to work perfectly and it's free, with some limitations-- you can only have 10 active projects at once and there may be an upper limit on the number of sheets. (worked fine for a project that spanned 10 sheets). You can upgrade to the pro version that eliminates all the limits. It is quite sophisticated in the control it offers. I haven't had the need to look for anything more.

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