When you like to use sheet goods as MDF or plywood you’ll have difficulties calculating the ideal cut layout. When you prepare a project, it’s likely you’ll have a cut list. For bigger projects there’s a need to reduce the wasteful offcuts. In my attic closet build I managed to reduce my waste by 4 full sheets by using the right tools.
There’s software that calculates a certain cut layout according to your specifications. You type in your cut list, add your own stock of sheet goods and the program does the thinking. Some programs even take into account the grain direction and saw blade thickness.
I love the program Cutlist plus. It has a free trial period. What I like the most about it is that you can chose whether you prefer rip cuts or cross cuts. It lets you add prices so you know what the project will cost you. A professional can also add labour to the calculation. This way he can inform his client about the project’s cost.
If you are looking for a free program you should take a look at MaxCut. There are online tools if you fancy that. Optimalon is one of the best known sites to do so.
If you are plain lazy you could also decide to buy your sheet goods already cut in the store. If you go to a good quality local wood store, there’s a chance they have one of those robotic saws. These saws have a built-in software so you supply a cut-list and the machine will tell what type of sheet to feed it. The sheets can be stacked 5 sheets high (if the layouts are equal) and in less than 10 seconds your pieces are ready to go. No matter how hard you try to get that ultimate precision..I’ve never been able to attain the level of precision that machine has. It costs you 20 euro but it saves you a couple of hours. No back-pain when lifting MDF (40kg for a 19mm sheet), no dust for your lungs. Life couldn’t be more peaceful.