Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Plans" or "No Plans"?

    How do you like to approach a project?  Do you like to work with a set of detailed plans when building your project or would you rather just sort of "wing it" as you go along and work out details as you go?  I'm sure it's a little of both for most of us, but I have found that some woodworkers have to work from a very detailed set of plans to be able to build their project and some have to rely totally on someone else to work out all the details of the plan.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it does make me realize how different we are when it comes to woodworking.   I guess you could say I was pretty naive when I first started woodworking, thinking the only difference from one woodworker to another was simply his level of experience, but there's a lot more to it then just simply woodworking.  The planning, engineering, drawing and working out all the details is such a big part of each project and how we deal with that part of it can be quite different from one woodworker to another.
     I know we all have different taste when it comes to style of furniture we may like to build or the building techniques that we may use, but today I would like to talk a little about how we even get started on a project and how we work out all the little details.
     I'll share with you how I like to build, not that it's the right way or best way of doing it, but what works for me and for you to compare how you like to do yours.  It's fun to see the different ways of looking at the same type project. I know a lot has to do with the actual type of project  we may decide to build, but let's think more along the general lines of how we like to approach a project.
     Most of the time I want to design my own project.  I may get some general ideas from either something I've seen and or a picture of something, but 99% of the time I never want to copy it in detail and I hate to work from someone else's plans.............and with that being said, I've been building a train from someone else's plans.  There's always an exception to the rules, even my own!
     Anyway, here's an example of how I like to approach a project.  The following picture is of an open shelving unit I built and it was based on a shelving unit I saw in a store years earlier that caught my eye and loved the simplicity of the design.  I never took any pictures, never took any dimensions and have no idea how many shelves the original unit had or what it was made out of.  It was probably 8 to 10 years later before I ever got around to building it and started my design relying strictly from memory.    Basically, I remembered the basic concept and created my own version.  I've seen many versions of the same basic idea over the years, but I designed mine for what I liked and what I wanted it to do for me.

     The vertical stands are hinged in the middle so they can fold flat for moving or transporting and the shelves simply slide in from the end and lay on the cross supports.  Easy to set up and easy to take down and move and it's very stable when set up.   I made mine out of Mahogany.  I used a simple butt joint for the cross supports using biscuits.  I did a soft round over along all edges and rounded the corners of the shelves.   I've used this unit in a lot of Home Shows to display some of my smaller projects.

     As you can also see in the photo, I like making band saw boxes and again, I like to just come up with an idea and go from there. A lot of times while I'm cutting out one band saw box, my mind will be racing with ideas for another one and can't wait to try that idea.


    Here is another example of getting ideas or plans for a different project.  Above is a picture of one of the band saw boxes I made from an idea I got from one of the books I had on making band saw boxes.  While I was cutting it out, I was thinking how neat that would be to make something like that in a full size dresser.  I knew it could not be cut out like a typical band saw box, so my challenge was to figure out what building techniques it would take to build a full size box like that.
     Here's the results:

       Other than a couple sketches that I made of the outside shape and overall dimensions, that was the only plans I had to build from.

     Not the best way for most woodworkers to approach a project, but designing and figuring out all the little details as I go is just part of the fun for me.  There was no way I would have been able to draw all the details out with dimensions before I started.  Part of it has to do with it being truly one of a kind and nothing to base anything on and also that it was much more of a free form design that could change some as I went along, but I still do pretty much the same thing when building more traditional pieces.  

    I would like to talk a little more about this in Part 2; "Plans" or "No Plans".



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