How to Get the Most out of a Sheet of Plywood

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!