Woodworking plans sometimes say to cut certain parts oversize before later cutting them down to exact size. Why not just cut them to size to start with?

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Test and perfect the angle of the miter on an oversized blank before marking and cutting the trim piece to the final length.rn

Q:

Woodworking plans sometimes say to cut certain parts oversize before later cutting them down to exact size. Why not just cut them to size to start with? Wouldn't that waste less wood?
—Jeffrey Walker, Odessa, Texas

A:

Paradoxically, Jeffrey, cutting parts oversize helps you cut the part perfectly the second time.

In cases where parts have unusual angles or must fit perfectly between two other parts, it's important to size the part based on the project rather than using a numerical measurement. Leaving a little wiggle room to mark, rather than measure, the exact dimension, as shown below, eliminates the potential for frustration over an imperfect fit. Pictured are two examples where it might be necessary to size parts down from oversize blanks.

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Undersized plywood can throw off the dimensions called for in a plan. For a perfect fit, mark the back panel to size against the dry-fit case.