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I'm an "almost retired" woodworking hobbyist and out of frustration created a new online tool for woodworkers to create cutting plans. I hope this will be useful to some of you. Anyway, some of you will probably be able to relate to my story...
I'm posting this to tell you about my new website, woodcutplanner.com
I've been a hobbyist woodworker most of my life. I think you will agree, the advent of computers and the internet has really changed the game for professional woodworkers, carpenters and hobbyists. Since my day-time job revolves around high-tech and programming I started using my home computer early on to increase the quality of my projects. One of the early programs I purchased was a cutting program. I'm sure it paid for itself in wood savings.
But, I ran into a few problems with my trusty software. When I bought it I paid for a license for the maximum size job I expected to do. I picked one of the smaller sizes, but occasionally I would do a bigger job and found it frustrating that my job size exceeded the license I had bought. I coped with the problem by breaking my bigger projects into smaller ones, knowing I was messing up the optimal cutting plan. Then, I encountered the final deal breaker, I decided to switch from a PC to a MAC. I didn't want to run a PC emulator on my MAC so now I had no way to run the software I had bought at all! I thought to myself, "I'll call up the company I bought the software from and see if they have a MAC version." But, I couldn't find them. I guess support is no longer available.
I griped to my millennial-age kids, who are all very computer and internet savvy, and they said, "Dad, that is why everybody is moving away from buying software! Now days we really like applications that run "in the cloud". I could see their point. Why buy software that you may or may not use often, that may not work on next-year's machine, and that may lose support?
With this thought in mind I decided to write my own wood cutting optimization planner. I dove into the development and finished a really great cutting optimization program. I reported back to my kids, "No more buying a program for me, I've written a great program for my own use." They said, "Dad, remember our discussion about great applications being available on the web? You really owe it to the woodworking community to make what you have done available to them." So after many more hours coding it into a website, woodcutplanner.com is born.
Honestly my goal was never to make Woodcutplanner a revenue source. It will help if I can make a little money from it to support the website hosting and maintenance, that's all. So I've set the website up to allow for free small jobs so you can play with it as much as you like. For larger jobs I charge a small fee for computing the cutting plan.
The most important aspects of the Woodcutplanner are:
* Generate an easy to read cutting plan to avoid stock waste. The plans are also a great help in the shop when you dive into the actual cutting. I make a lot less mistakes when I work from detailed plans rather than just a list of final part sizes.
* Make sure the entire plan can be cut with "guillotine" cuts (all parts can be cut from the stock by straight cuts).
* Make sure the wood grain runs in the desired direction on each part.
* And, since there will almost always be some waste of stock, try to group waste together into larger pieces in hopes they can be used on some future project.
Since this website is brand new, I'd love it if you would visit it, play with Woodcutplanner, and give me your feedback. If you like it, and share my excitement about the concept of pay-as-you-go, please pass the word on to fellow woodworkers. I think this tool could be a great help to our community. You can always try small jobs of 5 or less parts on the site for free.
Two things about learning to use the tool:
You can jump right into using it by clicking the Woodcutplanner links on the site. When you do that you will see a check box at the top right of the planner called, "Check box to show helpful hints". You might want to do that the first time or two you use the tool. Later when you are an old pro you certainly won't need it, it isn't all that complicated to use. In addition you will see a link to a FAQ that dives into a lot of detail on many topics.