I am new to woodworking, and I am using Sketchup. I wonder if there is a woodwork plan software that I can export sizing chart after I have my design finished, so I can just follow it not list it on my note? Or, how you do this.

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    There are packages out there that will produce a cutlist (my experience is with commercial, though consumer level ones might exist), but I think you'd learn more about your project by thinking through it and creating your own bill of materials. Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 18:58
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    There is a free extension for SketchUp that you can use to generate the cut list. Extension can be found here and YouTube video showing how it works here
    – user3112
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 7:39
  • Alternative if you want to do it manually, Jay Bates walks through his method: Making A Cutting Layout For Plywood Parts
    – user3112
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 7:41

1 Answer 1


Once I have my design complete in Sketchup, I find it useful to make my own cut list. What I do is make a copy of the file or create a new layer to serve as the cut list. I usually have an idea of what kind of wood it's going to be, so I use the Tape Measure tool to lay out a grid of the board or sheet good sizes I'm thinking of purchasing. Then I fit the pieces to those boards with an eye towards keeping common cuts together.

For example, I was thinking about building some Tetris shelves as a Christmas present for a friend. So first I designed the shelves for each Tetris piece:

Tetris shelves

Then I created a separate layer to plan my cut list. I have a pretty good idea that I would want to build this out of poplar, and my local hardwood dealer supplies rough cut poplar up to 16' lengths. So I laid out a grid with markings for 8' and 16' boards, 12" wide. Then I made a copy of each shelf, and laid out each piece for the shelf on its own board:

Initial cut list for Tetris shelves

Note that I'm not accounting for kerf here, so I want to be sure to give myself plenty of extra room at the ends. I know that each cut will take up about 1/8", so for example the cuts for the leftmost I-shaped shelf will require a minimum of four cuts, and if each has a 1/8" kerf, that's 1/8" x 4 = 1/2" minimum that I haven't actually accounted for in my layout. I definitely want at least a couple of inches of play, and preferably more, and from this rough initial layout, it looks like I'll be fine. But it's something you'd want to keep in mind if your tolerances are getting tight.

You might notice that even at this early stage, I'm already thinking about how I can minimize the number of blade changes I'll need. the sides of each shelf have a rabbet that will hold a backboard. I've lined up the rabbets on each board so I can set up a stacked dado set and run the rabbet in one pass on each board. In fact, once the boards are jointed, planed, and ripped to a common width, I'll run the rabbets for each board before I cut any of the sides to length. Cutting the rabbets in the same pass ensures they'll all match each other when I cross cut the sides of the shelves.

The next step is to figure out how I'm going to do my cuts in a way that allows me to set stops for common sizes. Just like with the rabbets, the idea is to set up my tools once for each length that needs to be cut, and make all the cuts for that length at the same time. That way, even if I'm off a little bit in where I've set the stop, I'll be off the same way for each board of the same size. After following this step for the Tetris shelves project, this is what I'm left with:

Tetris shelves final cut list

The rabbets line up. All boards of the same length are grouped together. I have shrunk my required lumber purchase by one board; instead of needing seven 16' boards, I only need six. I have everything grouped together enough that I can set a stop to 28", and then cut two of those. Then set my stop for 14", and cut five from one board, and five from another. Then set my stop for 21", and cut one from the cutoff of the first board, one from the cutoff of the second, and one from the cutoff of the third. Etc.

Going through this exercise helps me think through the entire project. I can do it keeping in mind the materials I'm going to use. It helps me consider each tool change I'm planning on making, allowing me to group common cuts together without changing the tool set up, which in turn helps with overall consistency. For me, this is worth not having an automated tool that produces the results. Once I've gone through this whole exercise, I'm much less likely to make a mistake once I'm making sawdust in the shop.

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    Jay Bates has a video where he shows his process doing exactly this. I'll try and post a link when I'm not on mobile
    – mmathis
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 17:12

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