Minimizing Lumber Use and Cost

Hi Gang – Today we’re talking about making the most of the pieces you buy.  Have you ever seen dimensional lumber at the store in different lengths and different prices, like 10 foot sections instead of 8 foot sections?  These are typically used for long  joist runs and 9 foot ceilings.  Have you ever wondered whether it really matters and whether they could ever save you cash?  Well the answer is, it depends.  To illustrate, let’s use an example using something really simple like a child’s Sandbox.

Here’s the 3D Build Planner import file:

sandbox (Right click and save the file to your desktop, open with the Import button)

Child's Sandbox

Child's Sandbox

Now, this is a basic Project made up of 2x8s and a single piece of plywood on the bottom.  Initially this was completed with 8 foot 2x8s.  The totals in the Project Manager window show:

4 2×8 (8 foot)

1 4×8 Plywood

Total: $40.96

Now, if we select one of the corner seats and bring up the Layout Tool, we can see this was how 3D Build Planner laid out the cuts:

First Layout Plan

First Layout Plan

This makes sense.  But now (using our right click menu, selection options and shift key) select a few of the shorter pieces and also select a few of the longer pieces (as is shown below) and change these to 10 foot 2x8s by selecting the Type: 2×8 (10 foot ) under the Lumber Types list and pressing Update to change the pieces.

2x8 Pieces to switch to 10 foot

2x8 Pieces to switch to 10 foot

After changing the type of those pieces to longer 10 foot 2x8s, what we end up doing is reducing both the cost of our project by about $4.00 as well as reducing the total number of pieces of lumber (and overall weight)

The reason is because using the longer 10 foot pieces, 3D Build Planner is able to condense some of the longer sections together with some of the smaller pieces. Selecting one of the seats and bringing up the Layout tool now shows this:

Second layout option using 10 foot 2x8s

Second layout option using 10 foot 2x8s

A better use of the lumber. Bottom line, don’t make the assumption that just because a longer piece of lumber costs more money that it can’t save you money.  In particular, when using a combination of long and short pieces, it can often be the case that longer pieces of stock lumber can yield better results, meaning less cost, less lumber, and less overall weight.

3D Build Planner provides some nice selection features under the right mouse button menu that can be used to make detailed selections and updates simply using the Lumber Type list and ‘Update’ button. After each update, the Project Manager displays the new pieces needed along with the new total cost, and Project weight.  So feel free to experiment to find the right combination for you.

Happy Building,

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