You Are the Jury – Cutlists: Yes or No?

The prosecution asserts that woodworkers shouldn’t use cutlists, because it’s virtually impossible to cut all pieces for a project to size, then assemble it and have everything fit perfectly. Woodworkers would be better served to study the drawings for a project and figure out the sizes, as well as how everything goes together – then cut the pieces as they are needed, working from measurements pulled from the workpiece in progress. Further, the cutlist for a substantial project takes up a lot of valuable space on the page – space that could perhaps be better used to provide more/larger pictures.

The defense asserts that a cutlist helps woodworkers estimate the amount of wood needed for a given project – and that PWM readers are savvy enough to know that one shouldn’t cut all pieces to size working only from the cutlist (and the defense does not appreciate the implied insult to the readers). Further, the cutlist provides an interesting visual element on the page.

You are the jury. Please cast your vote:

135 thoughts on “You Are the Jury – Cutlists: Yes or No?

  1. Cribbin

    Please do NOT include cutlists in the print version of the magazine.

    It’s a waste of valuable space for many of us who are not new to woodworking. I don’t buy the minimum amount of wood necessary for a project — I overbuy and cut judiciously for grain and color. This is something I learned from the creators of a really good magazine which is now out of print. You might’ve heard of it… Woodworking Magazine.

    It would be a shame for Popular Woodworking to take such a step. A step which could create a qualitative downward slide towards the hum-drum woodworking magazines with Fine names and Shop orientation.

  2. chandero

    The cut-lists are valuable for planning how much wood is needed. It makes it easier than deriving a bill or materials from the plans.
    However, DO NOT print it in the magazine. Make it available on line as a special for subscribers. Then if someone wants the cut list they log in and get it. If they do not want it they don’t.
    More space in the magazine for editorial content.

    Bob Blaney


    Cut lists are important, yet they are useless if not checked against the plan, and if the plan and cutlist are not adequately proofread. Publishing as a whole is suffering because of inept copyediting. Please lead by doing that right.

  4. reastman

    I am new to PW, but like the idea of a cutlist.
    That is a vote Yes.

    I also like having a diagram (Woodsmith) that shows the pieces organized on blank stock to guide in determining how much blank stock and what size(s) is needed.

    Both could be online to save space in print.

    I have not received my first magazine yet, but I am pleased with the “I Can Do That” Manual.
    Well written.

  5. Farkled

    I believe you should continue to calculate cutlists. However, I believe they should be published as an on-line extra and not printed in the magazine. This will pull traffic to the site and save room for more editorial content.

  6. roofighter83

    I like seeing the cutlists, online. They, combined with the schematics, give a good over-all sense of what is needed. Customization to one’s own particular needs are easy enough. And, as previously stated, your readers probably know enough to not cut everything directly from the list. Save the magazine space, however, for other articles or photos.

  7. GordonC

    I prefer to have cut lists either in an article or available on line. What I am concerned about is if they are available only on line, how long will it be before they require $$ to get them. Then you will be like other magazines that just list general dimensions. This may drive those not experienced enough or not sure of themselves to subscribe to another publication that provides cut lists. PW has always met the needs of the experienced and the novice woodworker. Why stop now.

  8. comotion59

    It is hard to vote yes and no. Ther are some projects that I need too modify to fit my needs but there are some I will build to spec or size.

  9. Gpops

    I too enjoy the cut lists but could be served just as well with a URL so I could print it out as needed. I particularly like the source list as sometimes locating those little dodads that just make a project irresistible is difficult.

  10. Dausien

    Of course Yes!
    But I like it online so its easer to customize to my need and recalculate it to the metric system.

  11. Elaine

    I agree with all of the above – cut lists available on line. A cut list is like a ballpark cheat sheet. Sometimes projects with cut lists are incorrect, or perhaps I’ve read my ruler incorrectly. I like the reference but refer to the project itself. And as I enjoy books that are often available on project Gutenburg – they rarely, if ever, have a cut list. Which, of course, takes me back to mathematical word problems.

  12. WayneM

    I agree a link to URL would be nice leaving the space for other things. Tips, help or side notes. Cut lists are something I use to estimate the lumber for a job.

  13. lynxsg

    link to a URL where we can find the cut list, and save the considerable space for woodworking tips and techniques


  14. Wayne Eller

    The cut list is interesting and helps to give an idea of how much wood it would take to make. It could be handled with a link printed in the magazine where someone could search to get the list, and still be able to use the majority of the extra space for additional photos or helps.

    1. grecy55

      I agree Wayne that the more information the better. A link would be a great idea and if hard copy needed I can print. I can make enough mistakes on my own; so any details are helpful.

  15. tennispaul

    I find the cut lists handy for reference purposes, but could see them being put online to save space for other articles in the magazine, preferably not more advertising.

  16. tpobrienjr

    The cutlist gives me a quick indication whether I need to do any special setup, make an accessory, or (!) buy a new tool.

  17. AndyGump

    Cut list can act as a check list for missing dimensions on the drawings. In addition, a cut list can be a aid when the dimension on the drawing is different.
    Then again, even if if you don’t follow the cut list to the letter, (I don’t) it still gives an idea of what to expect in planning the project.

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