MSU introduces no-cost software for furniture rough mills


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Posted: 4/11/2001


New software recently developed at Mississippi State University promises to be a boon for the furniture industry by taking the guesswork out of managing lumber cut up by rough mills.

Rough mills turn lumber into the rectangular pieces that eventually become finished furniture components. Since lumber represents 50-60 percent of furniture parts production's total cost, the yield of parts from lumber must be maximized to generate competitively finished products.

Named RIP-Xcut--RIP-X for short--the software assists in maximizing yields by providing an analysis of production.

"While the rough mill task of producing rectangular parts from lumber appears to be a simple one, there are numerous factors at work that simultaneously influence lumber yields," said software designer Philip Steele. "The number and sizes of parts cut from lumber constantly change, as does the lumber grade mix."

Steele, a professor of forest products, said the RIP-X program provides digital simulations for 1,500 to 2,000 board feet of lumber in each of six grades. In addition to analyzing part yields and costs, it determines the best lumber grade mix.

Available free of charge to lumber mills and furniture manufacturers, RIP-X can be ordered online at

"A powerful feature of the system is its ability to characterize parts quality exactly by describing the specific defects and their sizes allowed in the parts," Steele explained. "The number and size of defects allowed in parts has a huge influence on lumber yield."

The software simulates both the crosscut-first and rip-first systems currently used in rough mills. The crosscut-first versus rip-first yield and cost comparison has been identified by the furniture industry as one of its most important production decisions.

"Crosscut-first refers to initially cutting lumber across the grain, whereas rip-first refers to initially cutting lumber along the grain," Steele said.

Because the software simulates both systems, it was a natural step to provide a comparison of the yields and costs of the systems.

For additional information, contact Steele at (662) 325-8083 or

The software can also be ordered online.

Forest Products