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How to Get the Most out of a Sheet of Plywood

– Posted in: Articles, Home Improvement, How to

A Quick Guide on How to Cut Plywood to Get the Most out of the Sheet with Minimal Waste

I don’t always have time to draw a diagram for cutting plywood. I could buy a computer program that will create a diagram for me but those programs are expensive and I’d rather spend the money on building more projects! When I was remodeling my kitchen, I came up with a plan on how to cut plywood for the cabinets from a sheet with very little waste. This is the plan I use for every project and it works for me, hopefully it will work for you, too! It is a very simple process. I will be using a table saw to cut the pieces and this method also works well with a circular saw.

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For this example, I am cutting drawer boxes for the kitchen island at the Rebel house. I like to have my plywood sheets cut in half (4′ x 4′) at the store. For one reason, it makes it easier for me to handle by myself, and for another reason, it will fit in my car!

Looking at the plan being used, determine which piece is the widest. I like to cut all of the largest pieces first, then cut the smaller pieces from the remaining plywood or scrap. Make sense? In this case, the drawer bottoms will all measure 9-1/2″ wide. I can get two drawer bottoms out of each 4′ length (I will need eight pieces) so I cut four 9-1/2″ wide strips.

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Next, I will cut the pieces for the sides and front/back of the drawer boxes. The side pieces (the longest) will be 5-1/2″ tall by 20-1/2″ long. I will need sixteen pieces and can get two out of each 4′ strip, so I will cut eight 5-1/2″ wide strips.

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I will also need 5-1/2″ strips for the drawer box front and back, which will be 11″ wide. I need sixteen pieces and can get four per 4′ strip. I will cut four more 5-1/2″ wide strips.

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The strips will be cut to length on the miter saw because they are so narrow.

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When building a larger piece, the same process will apply. Normally the largest piece will be the top or the back. Those pieces will be cut first. Next will be the sides, bottom, any shelves, doors, etc. Start with the largest piece, ending with the smaller pieces cut from what is remaining or scrap.

I hope this little tutorial on how to cut plywood has helped. I find that I have very little waste when I am finished which to me, makes project building so much more economical! Any questions? Feel free to contact me at cher {at} designsbystudioc {dot} com!

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  • http://www.jessicafhinton.com/ Jessica F. Hinton

    Thanks for this, Cher! I haven’t worked much with plywood, but I know I will as soon as it gets warmer here and I can really begin DIYing.

    • CherTexter

      If you ever need help with any of the projects, let me know!

  • LindySez

    My hubby can use this, he always takes like a square out of a big old sheet and then has these odd pieces left to work with, of course he does the same thing with wrapping paper…

    • CherTexter

      That sounds exactly like my son!

  • http://www.betterwoodworkingplans.com/ Ron White

    It seems that the price of stock is rising on a regular basis. Getting the most out of it is very important.

    • CherTexter

      Hi, Ron! You are absolutely right!! The cost of materials is skyrocketing and anything to keep the costs down is a plus!

  • ckachelmuss

    My husband is terrible at wasting, I am saving this for him to check out! #SITSBlogging

    • CherTexter

      Lol! Sheet good are expensive and I get upset at myself when I waste it so I try not to do so! Thank you for stopping by!

  • Cheryl @ Artzzle

    Your blog is really something. My Hubs will enjoy this. It’s great how you’ve done so much and developed so many talents. Glad you stopped by my blog so I could find yours!

    • CherTexter

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! It certainly keeps me out of trouble – sort of!!

      • Cheryl @ Artzzle

        Hey . . . a LITTLE trouble is OK now and then . . . it keeps life interesting!
        P.S. my Hubs likes your site. I’m pretty sure I marked follow yesterday, but SITS week is so busy! I’ll double check if I don’t start seeing your posts.

        • CherTexter

          Thank you!!

  • http://www.tidbitsofexperience.com/ crystal

    I definitely found this to be interesting. My husband is big on working with wood too. He’s always trying to get the most of his pieces of wood/plywood too. #SITSBlogging.

    • CherTexter

      Thank you very much! I think with the cost of sheet goods these days, you almost have to squeeze the last little bit out, so to speak! Thank you for stopping by!

  • http://www.christinasquest.com Christina Hecht

    As someone you has zero experience working with wood, a post like this is something I will defiantly need in the near future with all the home projects I have plans for in our new home. Knowing me, I would have done the the smaller cuts firsts. :)

    Stopping by from #SITSBlogging.

    • CherTexter

      You can do it, I promise!! If you ever need help, let me know – that is why I am here! Thank you for stopping by!!