We call this “chickenomics”. Let us explain: if you were a chicken farmer, then the very best scenario for you would be to sell whole chickens at the market. If your customers only wanted to buy chicken breasts from you, then for every two chicken breasts that you sell you’re left with the rest of a chicken. What do you do with the rest of the chicken? Well, you could market and try to sell the thighs, and maybe the wings too. But then you’ve got to spend time butchering each chicken. Perhaps after that you could cook and strip the rest of the carcass and make soup, or pies. But then you’ve got to buy all of the other ingredients for your soups or pies, and cook it all – which requires a kitchen and equipment. No, the very best scenario for a chicken farmer is to sell whole chickens. This is chickenomics.
Let’s apply this to a sheet of plywood; the best thing that we can do is design items of furniture that use either an entire sheet of plywood, or a half or quarter (so that we can make multiples of the same product from a single sheet. We don’t want to have to absorb the cost of offcuts, or pass it on in our pricing, and we don’t want to have to come up with supplementary products to use those offcuts that might require additional time, equipment and components to produce. We design, then refine, adjusting dimensions and how we lay out each component on the sheet material in order to get the most out of it – this is called “nesting”, and closely nesting components, often rotating and tessellating them, is the key to getting all of the components onto a single sheet.