Frequently Asked Questions

A list of frequently asked questions.

Common Problems

How can I change the language?

Check Preferences.

How does OpenCutList know which dimension is the length of a part?

The local axes of a component are used to find out which dimension shall be considered the length, width or thickness of a part.

The dimensions of a component are wrong in the Parts List

The dimensions of components are taken from the bounding box. Depending on how you draw your component, the bounding box may not be aligned with the component axis. Check out SketchUp Skill Builder: Group axis and bounding box to learn about relocating the local axis to align the bounding box with your component.

The Option Automatic orientation of parts, tells OpenCutList to interpret the dimension of the part using the largest dimension as length, the smallest dimension as thickness and the remaining dimension as width. You can edit the properties of a part, change the order and lock the orientation of the local axes. If Automatic orientation of parts is not enabled, the length is read along the red axis, width along the green axis and thickness on the blue axis. Depending on how you draw your volume, SketchUp might not place the local axes the way you would like them.

These local axes can be changed in SketchUp, in the Properties of the Part or by using the Smart Axes Tool.

I cannot define material in the plugin

On the Materials tab of OpenCutList, add a new material and configure its type. Alternatively or if you already have material on your components, you may define the material within SketchUp, then it will appear in the Materials tab, where you will have to configure a few additional parameters. This information will be used to compute raw dimensions (using the oversize) and select the correct thickness. Also price and weight attributes can be added to the material.

Why is my material not configured?

If you have just applied material defined in SketchUp, OpenCutList lacks the additional parameters it needs to exactly compute the Parts List. Check out the tab Materials to enter this information for all materials used in your model.

The available thickness/size does not correspond to my material

It is not possible to make an exhaustive list of all thicknesses, sizes and personal preferences. For each material we have listed default sizes, which you have to adapt to your local market availability. There is one set for metric units in mm and one for imperial (fractional) units in inches listing a limited set of parameters. You can save your customization and restore it at any time. You can also revert to the original defaults.

How do I define the grain direction?

On material of type Solid Wood, the grain direction is assumed to run along the length, e.g. the first dimension (red axis) of your component.

On material of type Sheet Good, there may be no grain direction (like for MDF sheets) or a grain direction along the length of the sheet. Some material do have the grain running across the sheet (plywoods). In that case, simply swap length and width so that the first dimension represents the grain direction.

The highlight arrow shows the back, how do I change this?

Using the context menu Flip Along and selecting the blue axis (if the thickness is on the blue axis) will flip the front and back face of a part.

The highlight arrow points into the wrong direction, how do I change this?

Using the context menu Flip Along and selecting the red axis (if the length is on the red axis) will change the direction of the arrow.

I have a ~ (tilde) in front of some of the dimensions

This happens when the dimensions are not exact with respect to the precision of your model. See the menu Tools -> Model Info -> Units or the Preferences. Enable the length snapping and configure it to the same value as precision to minimize the effect. However there are situations where this will almost always happen (because you cut a curve or a bevel or because you changed the units of your model after creating your components).

How do I add texture to the OpenCutList material?

OpenCutList material is SketchUp material with some attributes attached to it. Textures cannot be added directly from OpenCutList to the material, but you can edit the material directly in SketchUp if you want to customize its appearance. It is important to configure the direction of your texture in OpenCutList.

I applied material to my component, but I want some faces to have different materials

OpenCutList selects the top level material of the component to assign the part to a group. You may define other materials to the faces of the component. If you do this on all faces of the part, the color of the component material will not be visible anymore.

I applied material to all the faces of my component, OpenCutList still says No Material defined

Material must be applied to the component, assigning it to all faces is cumbersome and unnecessary.

In the Options, you can enable Smart assignment of material, in that case material from a child (face) or parent (enclosing group) of a component will be selected as the material for a component.

My panel parts are displayed in different groups, even though they all have the same thickness

This may happen when your drawing is not precise enough. Increase the displayed precision in the model info to the maximum, menu Tools -> Model Info -> Units or in Preferences. You should now see that parts have different thicknesses. If you use fractional inches, and a ~ (tilde) is displayed in front of the thickness, switch to decimal inches to see the difference.

OpenCutList only uses one size of panels or length of board?

OpenCutList can either use panels/boards from a stock (we call them Panel Offcuts) or a Standard Panel. The offcuts have quantities associated with them and OpenCutList will use them in a particular order to place the parts. If OpenCutList cannot place a part in any of the offcuts, it will issue a warning.

If a Standard Panel is defined (only a single panel/board is possible), OpenCutList will generate as many panels as necessary to place all the parts in an efficient manner. If a part is larger than an offcut or the standard panel, it will issue a warning.

Due to algorithmic complexity/time constraints it is currently not possible to have OpenCutList select from multiple standard panels/boards to find the optimal mix of panels/boards. In general a larger panel/longer board will yield a better result.

The fact that only a single panel/board can be defined as Standard Panel/Board is not a bug!

North America only Problems

My model unit is fractional, do I need to enter nominal or actual dimensions?

In North America, there is a distinction between the nominal and actual size of many wood products (rough wood, dimensional lumber, wood panels). SketchUp and OpenCutList work with actual dimensions, therefore you need to enter actual sizes and not nominal sizes.

For dimensional lumber (softwood), when the nominal size is 2 x 4 (2 by 4), the actual size will be at least 1-1/2 x 3-1/2 at 19 % maximum-moisture content.

Here are a few examples from Archtoolbox.

Nominal Size (inches)

Actual Size (inches)

Actual Size (mm)

1 x 2

3/4 x 1 1/2

19 x 38

1 x 4

3/4 x 3 1/2

19 x 89

2 x 4

1 1/2 x 3 1/2

38 x 89

2 x 8

1 1/2 x 7 1/4

38 x 184

4 x 4

3 1/2 x 3 1/2

89 x 89

4 x 8

3 1/2 x 7 1/4

89 x 184

See also American Softwood Lumber Standard, June 2010.

My model unit is fractional, do I need to enter nominal or actual dimensions for my panel?

When you plan to use a panel (OSB, Plywood, ...), make sure you note the correct dimensions. Often the hardware store will list the panel with an indication like this:

Birch Plywood (Common: 3/4 in. x 2 ft. x 4 ft.; Actual: 0.728 in. x 23.75 in. x 47.75 in.)

This means that instead of 0.75 in. the panel's thickness is only 0.728 in., not much difference, but 2 ft. x 4 ft. is missing 1/4 in. You need to take this into account when setting up the trimming size for the panel.

The volume of solid wood is labeled FBM, what does that mean?

Rough wood volumes are usually measured in FBM (for "foot, board measure"). One board foot equals 1 ft x 1 ft x 1 in or 12 in x 12 in x 1 in. A volume in FBM is 12 times larger than the volume in ft³. See also the National Hardwood Lumber Association Grading Rules.

Is 4 ft. x 8 ft. the same as 8 ft. x 4 ft.?

It depends! In OpenCutList, the larger dimension or the dimension of the grain direction is the length of the panel, the other being the width. If your material has no grain (like MDF) it probably does not matter. For material like Baltic Birch Plywood, the grain may run along the largest dimension or across the board.

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