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Planning your woodwork

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RogerS

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I'm about to build a couple of standalone storgae units/benches for the utility room. I started thinking that I should maybe be a bit more 'professional' this time and actually make some proper plans rather than have a concept and a few sketches.

So I then started looking at the various drawing packages out there (Mac and PC) and groaned when I realised yet another vertical learning curve to go through.

So then I thought maybe there were some plans out there and so typed in 'woodworking plans into google' and groaned even more when I saw sites offering 25,000 plus plans :cry:

So now i'm coming back to concept and sketch again.

But I did wonder what approach the rest of you adopted as I couldn't find an existing thread?

Roger
 

Chris Knight

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Roger,

Existing plans almost always fall down in some respect when trying to adapt them to your particular situation and I think with rare exceptions, it is not worth the trouble but instead, rather make your own - using a drawing package if this helps.

Of far greater use than someone else's plans is a good sourcebook of ideas that can easily be adapted to your needs. I am thinking for instance of Rodale's "Illustrated Cabinetmaking" by Bill Hylton which is excellent for this purpose - especially when coupled with a book on design like Graham Blackburn's" Furniture by design.

This approach will free you from the straitjacket of a design that doesn't "do" what you want.
 

Scott

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Roger

I have AutoCad but I'm hopeless with it! It just takes too long to learn to a level that you can use it quickly (and without the book!).

I'm back to sketches on paper and sometimes scale drawings of certain complex joints or bits where I think I might make a mistake.

Scott
 

frank

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a fag packet but i packed up smoking so it a drawing book with little squares on 8) 8) :lol:
 

GCR

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rsinden

I use a sketch book and jot down ideas. Some of my ideas take a long time to mature - my dining room table took 15 years!! Then it used to be out with the drawing board, but some time ago I was forced to come to terms with CAD. If you like computing and have the time to learn, CAD is great. You don't have to produce top-notch engineering drawings, but you can produce working drawings which are easily modified and stored. In the end though, a drawing which takes longer to produce than the finished article is just overkill.

Bob
 

Adam

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rsinden":3neh347g said:
But I did wonder what approach the rest of you adopted as I couldn't find an existing thread?
Roger
I take the opposite view tham many people here and avoid any plan at all costs. I like the freedom of changing things on-the-go. E.g. "Ooh, If I make this half and inch smaller, I'll just miss that knot etc..."

Also, I enjoy finding and solving problems as I go along. I *think* for me, the time saved from not pre-designing it allows me to spend longer in the workshop as it is easy to find and fix problems when they suddenly are staring you in the face. Sometimes this does cause problems where you wish you'd thought more about how you'd get widget A in after you've glued widget B in place. Even then, I still prefer to do things without a plan if possible.

I'll sometimes set myself a maximum dimension, but where possible, just start and see what happens. This is clearly not an option for professional people etc As they have to maximum work throughflow, machine time and setup, etc.

The above obly applies when I'm making a project. If I'm making a jig/other practical item which isn't really a "fun" item then a plan is the way to go as its much faster - and then you can get on with fun things!!!

Adam
 

UKTony

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Roger,

SWMBO dictates just about anything that gets built in or out of the house, with the exception of the lathe, she has now taken to grabbing one of the youngsters "Etcha - Sketch" things, btw they are now A3 in size and have a pen and built in printer, drawing what she wants and saying can you make one of these :?
 

Aragorn

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I always make some kind of plan. I use CorelDRAW for everything, but I've been using it to quite an advanced level for nearly 10 years, so, for me, it's quick and easy.
I do adapt plans as I go, like Adam, but I'll usually modify the drawing too.
I find that some types of project require very detailed and careful plans, for example to fit in exactly with something else, or because of a particular fixing, alignment etc. whilst others can be much more free flowing.
 
A

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Initially, I sketch/plan things out on paper to get a rough idea of the shape and sizes.

I have been an engineer fo 20+ years and so have become quite adept at sketching ideas.

If my wife is involved in the process, I usually end up having to colour the sketches in using either watercolour paints or water soluable pencils as her 3D visualisation and spacial awarensss is not too good :?

I always CAD up my sketches in a 3D package which allows me to check for fits etc. as well as providing an accurate 3D representation that a I can render and rotate to ensure that I am happy with the design.

Generally it takes an evening in front of the TV to CAD up a chest of drawers or something and the resultant drawings save me hours and hours of extra work in the garage (time I can't afford to waste).

In your position, I would simply draw it out on squared paper the best you can and work from that - but I would draw it out with ALL dimensions before you start cutting

Only thing I have never bothered with is a cutting list
 
A

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Sketching is on paper, CAD drawings are in Solid Edge but any CAD package would help
 

Alf

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Planning, Alf-style:


:oops:

The only things I've done proper drawings for I've never actually made, so I've stopped doing that in the hopes the project rate will increase. :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 

Mcluma

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The only time that i used a proper programme, was when i made two staircases, one normal one, and one with a turn-in it.

But I will be honest, I didn't want to buy it (Gbp 1100) so I used the 2 week free demo version.

And yes it provided proper drawings to work from, and the stairs came exactly out like I expected them.

So if it gets complicated, use a programm, if it is straight forward, use a sketch book :wink:
 

Chris Knight

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Roger,

At the risk of sounding like a spoilsport, I would strongly recommend that you don't bother with CAD. I do use a 3D package from time to time and like Tony says, it's useful for checking fits/interferences etc.

The big HOWEVER in my mind is that it is not at all like riding a bike. You do forget - at least I do - and coming back to it after a while of not using it I find it can take hours to do something that should take minutes. The initial learning curve on the sort of parametric package (Solidworks) that I use is very steep and long too, especially when you get away from simple straight lines.

Add this to the fact that as I get more experienced, I am far happier than I was to work more like Alf and Adam from a little sketch. I have enough of a repertoire of joinery and techniques in my head now, that I don't need the assistance of the CAD system. I am far more likely to use it to calculate a few dimensions or to illustrate a concept for LOML than I am to use it in earnest.

I honestly think I might have got to my present state of knowledge faster if I had spent more time thinking projects through from a design standpoint rather than trying to get a computer to do my work for me.
 

Les Mahon

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The only advice I would offer is don't do your sketches on the handy piece of plasterboard while building the house - There is a great sketch of the Bathroom vanity unit somewhere behind my living room wall!

Even though I can use CAD, like others here I find it too slow cause I don't use it day in day out, so I sketch, and sometimes draw complicated bits on the drawing board.
 

Argee

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Like Adam, I rarely use a plan. I know what the overall dimensions are and I like to do the calculations "live" in front of the timber, I find it more enjoyable. The thing I think about most before committing to a cut is "what else needs to be this width/length?"

The only time I resort to a plan (or, rather, a drawing), is when working out what I can get from sheet stock in order to prevent over/under ordering and to get all the raw materials all in one go.

Ray.
 

tim

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I think Chris is right re CAD. I've just started using Sketchup - which is pretty basic compared with some. I think it will suit me fine for three reasons. It does allow me to check for fit etc which is important because I do a lot of built in work (often a long way away). Secondly, it has already proved useful in bringing ideas to life to customers. Third is that the type of furniture I like is based on clean lines - if it involved all manner of twiddlery and curves I think it would be very difficult to improve on a pencil and paper (for me)

That said, I always start with a sketch and the smartest thing I ever did was paint a 4 ft x 3 ft blackboard on my workshop wall which I use to sketch ideas on the fly (anyone know where I can get coloured chalk from by the way). -plus a really good reminder list for bits and bobs that need replacing.

I do do cutlists - so that when a socking great delivery of timber arrives I can make sense of it and I also swear by Cultlist Plus for working out sheet cutting. You can do this by hand but for 18 sheets or so for a kitchen - it pays for itself in one go - esp if you find you've missed out a part or got a large dimension wrong!!

Hope this helps

T
 

Alf

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Les Mahon":27g4cmw3 said:
The only advice I would offer is don't do your sketches on the handy piece of plasterboard while building the house - There is a great sketch of the Bathroom vanity unit somewhere behind my living room wall!
<chuckle> :lol: :lol: :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

trevtheturner

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I'm sure when I visited Tim's workshop (and an excellent one it is, too) his blackboard contained a list of the contents of his wine cellar!

As far as prepping is concerned, I'm still in the dark ages. After I have rough sketched an idea it's out with the drawing board for scale plans and 'exploded' diagrams if necessary. Then it's on to producing a working rod, on white-faced hardboard, for use in the workshop. I enjoy doing all this and it helps to avoid annoying/expensive mistakes - which no doubt I would otherwise make. But then I am just a hobbyist with no time pressure and this probably wouldn't be practical for those with deadlines, etc.

Cheers,

Trev.
 
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