Bridgewood Design - Cutlist Plus, Woodworking Software (Rating: 5)

A few years ago I found Cutlist Plus from Bridgewood software. At the time, it was the only consumer-level layout + cutting diagram software I could find. (I have recently found the cutlist plugin for Sketch-Up, and I will talk about that at the end of this review).

Cutlist is available from the Bridgewood Design website: http://cutlistplus.com/

The software is available in a few different versions. The $90 Silver version allows you to create a modest project with 50 parts, but the biggest limitation I found was that it did not allow you to create sub-assemblies as separate projects and then specify multiple copies of that assembly in a larger project. I eventually upgraded to the Gold edition, which has very few limitations. There is also a $500 Platinum version which has some extra tools that make CAD design easier. I can't comment about those options.

CLP does layout very well. You define parts in a spreadsheet-like interface. The program has a database where you can enter in the type of material (species, thickness, board/sheet, etc), so that the material will be available in a drop down when you set up your project. Options such as edge-banding and grain orientation are also included. (I have not used the edge-banding optimization, but CLP will tell you how much you will need).

There are options for printing; diagrams with scaled boards, expanded diagrams, or just a list.

As stated previously, the Gold version allows you to import another project as an assembly, and you can then specify multiple copies of that assembly.

Here's where things get nice…

You can also enter your existing stock into the database. So if you have 3 6"X18" 4/4 cherry boards, CLP will include those off-cuts in the optimization. And, if you have a sheet of ply in your stock, and you commit a project that cuts off half, CLP will automatically update your stock to reflect the change.

CLP allows you to label each part, and produces cutting diagrams with options to include the part name, assembly and dimensions of the cut part. You can also print the BOM to standard Avery labels so that you can stick a label on each part as you cut them to keep track. See my kitchen cabinets project to see a cool pic of 92 stiles and rails lined up with labels.

I routinely update my stock with the materials I have for a project; once in a while, especially when I am using expensive wood, I take my laptop to the lumberyard and temporarily add in the boards I find to see how well the optimization works.

For those who run a commercial shop, the program also tracks costs, time and helps you price out a project.

The Google Sketch-up plugin has an option to output the results to CLP; I tried it (as I am new to Sketchup) and it seems to work very well.

I cannot recommend this program enough. I originally bought it when I screwed up a layout on a $110 sheet of cherry plywood. I got by for a while on the Silver version, and only upgraded to Gold when I had a project that benefited with the sub assemblies options. It has been worth every cent.

On a personal note, I have communicated with their support for a printing problem I had, and they got back to me quickly and fixed the issue.

The software does have to be activated over the web (or via some other method). However, you get to install it on at least two computers and if you have to reinstall, you just click that that's what you are doing on the registration form. This is pretty important to me, as my day job (programmer) requires me to reinstall my PCs all the time.

Quick Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with the company that makes this. I just love their product.