I was browsing Toolcrib this evening and found a blog entry about cut list programs (see link below). I thought it was worthwhile for a couple of reasons. First, while probably too time consuming for general shop use, it could be useful when using critical resources. Like for special prop piece that needs a $100 a sheet material.... Second it reminded me of our cnc machine that does this automatically (I learned this after I spent several hours arranging an entire job into 4x8 squares since the machines I had used in the past didn't have that feature). Third, it is actually an interesting thought process, both in the thought required to layout the materials in order to reduce scrap, and in cutting the material. For instance in the article I refer to below, there is a definite order in which you would want to cut the materials to ensure straight cuts.
Two concerns - one, which is compensated for within the program, is cutting thickness. Secondly, in critical applications I would be concerned about grain orientation. While this wouldn't matter in some situations, it can be critical in others.