GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Calculating to Make Efficient use of Linear Lumber Stock

chris814 | Posted in General Questions on

I’m going to put T&G Western Red Cedar on part of the outside of my house – to match some other external walls. This material is becoming hard to find so I jumped and bought about 90% of what I estimate I need. It’s arrived in bundles of numerous different lengths. I need some software to figure out how to most efficiently use these various lengths. The wall has above & below window  (different sized windows) sections, whole height sections etc.  I want to avoid butt joints in the cedar and I don’t want a bunch of very expensive kindling left at the end of the job.
I see a lot of software advertised online but it is mostly for sheet goods.  I’d very much appreciate a short cut through the numerous software offerings. Thanks, chris814

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. maine_tyler | | #1

    If you have truly random lengths, this probably wouldn't help, but a simple online 'linear cutting list calculator' might do you some favors. Just google that; there are a few and free.
    You can enter all the lengths you have available (stock lengths) and all the lengths you need, and it will distribute accordingly.

  2. chris814 | | #2

    Thanks Tyler, your search keywords have given me some much more promising leads than I'd come up with. I'll try a few.
    Fortunately my supplied lengths are not completely random - they are bundled, e.g. x @ 10', y @ 8' etc, but I see from a quick look at the software that I have some homework to do yet to find out their exact length rather than their nominal length.

  3. chris814 | | #3

    Hopefully at least one of the programs will give me the option of specifying "no butt joints".

  4. maine_tyler | | #4

    It's possible I don't understand precisely what you are trying to accomplish, but looking at this specific calculator:
    it has a place to enter all your stock lengths (and the number of pieces at that length), then you need to enter all your final cut lengths, and it has a kerf input too.

    So with this tool, it's up to you to manually measure and determine what lengths you need—the calculator doesn't care about butt joints, etc.— just the final needed lengths. I assume you will have to take some measurements to determine your desired lengths no matter what software you find.
    If you are looking for a program to do some layout, there are free programs like SketchUp that might help, but there is a learning curve. Probably not worth climbing that curve for a one-off project.

  5. creativedestruction | | #5

    In my experience I've yet to model or draw the built conditions closely enough to rely heavily on software takeoffs. I had the same predicament on my addition and the best solution to minimize siding waste was keeping every piece organized by length before and during installation. You can butt them all up to a wall or stand on end from short to long, which allows you to quickly find the right length to use next. It requires a little more math on the fly but often fewer cuts when you find ones 'just right'.

  6. chris814 | | #6

    Hi Tyler, I've tried your suggestion of the Kurraglenin software. I found it pretty straightforward to use and is what I was looking for. It shows that I have just enough cedar for my job, although from the Excel spreadsheet I had made I thought I was underordering by a larger margin so I've got a little investigating to do to see where the discrepancy lies. However the cut list is a great help. Many thanks for your assistance.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |