CategoryAlways Improving, Tips & Techniques


Simple Cutting Software X – Building a Cutlist

Now working on my third cabinet build project, I’ve come to appreciate using software to sort out the cultist for plywood.   I’m using a demo version of Simple Cutting Software X, and it works pretty well, with some exceptions.

Of the detractors for the software, it tends to “optimize” the cuts rather than make them all work in the grain direction you prefer.

I’m now getting the counter subtop, shelves, and plinth base cultist organized to break down two more sheets of plywood, and then on to laying out for cutting 1/4 Baltic birch for backs and door panels. You can tinker with it in the Fibre column so that it will shift pieces around, but it still will not give everything you want.  Depending on the stock size of your sheets, though, it is simple enough to shift a couple of cuts on the fly and get most of what you want done. English or Metric works.

The demo version of the software doesn’t seem to allow the cultist diagrams to be saved, but even so, it does print. So it is a nice, handy piece of software that you may want to use on your next shop cabinet project, shelving project, or whatever plywood or other sheet cutting job you have to do.

There is NOT much Mac friendly woodworking software out there, so it was nice to find this one.
Lanai Cabinet Cutlist

Lanai Cabinet Cutlist

A Mobile Chop-Saw Workstation

Scott King’s 1991 Fine Homebuilding article served as inspiration and the basic plan for my miter saw workstation.  For my purposes, with limited storage and often working in my driveway or garage, it was important to have a workstation that I could easily move and also tuck away.  I live in the tropics and near the ocean – critters (geckoes, cockroaches) and salt air add additional challenges to tool maintenance – an enclosed box is the way to go…

Chopsaw workstation.

Chop station set up.


Easy Storage for saw.

Outriggers extended.

Workstation with rollers and outriggers

ready to stow

ready to stow

Rolling, locking casters.




Removing Pencil Marks

 Well, you could sand away pencil marks, and hope you don’t gouge the wood or go through the thin veneer of expensive plywood. But, there is a better way! – Alcohol!  No, not that kind  – this kind – denatured alcohol.

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

Building cabinets, I try to minimize layout marks since the surface will be either clear-coated or stained, and marks can easily show through. Nonetheless, some marks are needed, such as these to layout a course of shelf pins.

Pencil Mark

Pencil Mark – Before

Soak a small rag in the denatured alcohol, and give the marks a good rub until they fade and disappear. It doesn’t take too much.


Allow the alcohol to dry


Pencil Mark – After

Take a good look – marks are gone!  There may still be some faint marks left, but they can easily be lightly hand sanded and they will be history. The denatured alcohol method works well also to remove most yard markings and small smudges from the surface of the wood, or fade them well enough to facilitate a light sanding.

Credit to Wood Magazine

Scribing Stair Skirt Boards

In the below pics, the left-hand skirt board was my first attempt.  After making the floor cut for this skirt, I started second guessing, and measured before cutting out for the treads and risers. Hmmm, got some gaps that aren’t too nice. Good thing I did this intending to fit the risers and treads to the skirt, rather than skirt OVER the treads and risers.  It will be okay.

Skirt Base Transition

Skirt Base Transition

Scribing Gauge

Scribing Gauge

Right Skirt Base

Right Skirt Base

The right hand skirt base (looking from bottom to top of stairs) is my second attempt. NO measurements were taken.   I found that making my scribe gauge out of longer stock allowed me to use the same piece of stock and keep it reasonably plumb more easily. I used a scrap piece of poplar. I simply scribed for treads and risers exactly as explained. Worked like a charm!  I don’t need a zero tolerance fit because I intend to fit treads and risers after the skirt is on, but this is darned good without any touch up sanding.  Very good recap of this technique provided here.


Wainscot Setup with a Rabbet and Kreg Jig

There are plenty of how-to on YouTube, but Gary Striegler is the guy to follow for methods using the Kreg jig that are simple and quick. Striegler uses a frame with inset panel glued to the wall and finished with trim.  I prefer to rabbet the back of the frame to accept the edges of the panel. This allows the entire assembly to be glued together and installed all at once. The backside rabbets will have to be cut out with a chisel on the corners. This technique allows use of a broader range of stock lumber and does not require inside trim to cover the panel to frame joint (along with a pin nailer to install it).

NOTE: Gary Striegler is using poplar for the frame.  S4S poplar that is most available is NOT 3/4″ thick. It is 13/16″ thickness.  

Rabbet Bit  Rabbet, Wainscot Frame

Router Table Tweaks

Yesterday I changed out router bits in the table to setup for a 1/16″ roundover bit for all of the solid edging on the cabinets/shelves. The refinements at such a small dimension get critical, so it was also time to pull out the router mounting plate, draw a template, and drill a hole thru the plate for the topside fine height adjustment key.

This is the Bosch 1617 mounted in a Bosch router table specific base. It is similar to a fixed base without handles, but has the ability to use the top mounted height adjustment (note the knob on the right).

Here is the router and top in profile. Here you can see the feather boards added to the fence to hold down the cabinet panels for smooth flow past the cutter head. The feather boards fasten to the fence with t-bolts (toilet bolts with heads filed to fit the track, and cut to length).

…..and here is the fine adjustment – a t-hex wrench that fits into a female fitting in the router base adjustment knob.