Woodwork design books

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sienew

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Hi. I'm looking for some design inspiration for future woodworking projects and wondered if there are any woodwork design books that you would recommend?

A lot of the projects I see (and quite honestly have done myself) are quite utilitarian. There doesn't seem to be much education on design, at least not that I've seen. There are a thousand places (books, guides, videos) that will teach how to make a dovetail joint, very few places that will teach you how to design a piece of furniture or project that is actually worthy of that.

So that's what I'm looking for. To learn more about design. Any book recommendations would be very much appreciated.
 

rogxwhit

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Can't think of a book, but there are different aspects of design that need to mesh in a project. One is structure - and this is where knowledge of the structural behaviour of wood and how it can be jointed is needed. Another is function, which I see as common sense really. Then there's the aesthetic aspect of things - a sense of proportion and dealing with colour, texture, shapes ...
 

Adam W.

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George R. Walker has some nice videos and books about the elements of classic design. He's on youtube and has some streaming videos on the Lie-Nielsen website.
 

Yojevol

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I've just counted the number of furniture design books on my shelf. To my surprise there are 22. All except one cover a design theme, eg, Art Nouveau, Shaker, Victorian, chairs, etc, etc.. These are all useful for browsing in an effort to find inspiration or for just plain copying.
The one exception is 'Solid Wood Cabinet Construction' by Franz Karg and sub-titled '70 contemporary designs with details', the details being scale drawing and copious black & white photos.
There are a number of of copies available at ridiculously low prices, Have a look here.
Brian
 

Jameshow

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I've just counted the number of furniture design books on my shelf. To my surprise there are 22. All except one cover a design theme, eg, Art Nouveau, Shaker, Victorian, chairs, etc, etc.. These are all useful for browsing in an effort to find inspiration or for just plain copying.
The one exception is 'Solid Wood Cabinet Construction' by Franz Karg and sub-titled '70 contemporary designs with details', the details being scale drawing and copious black & white photos.
There are a number of of copies available at ridiculously low prices, Have a look here.
Brian
Are you recommending this book??
 

TomGW

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Not wishing to hijack the OP’s thread but I’m also interested in cabinet design, particularly mid-century designs, and would welcome any pointers to inspiration sources.
 

Jameshow

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Recommending it? Now that's a difficult question to answer without knowing in more detail what Sienew's requirements and aspirations are. All I am saying is that there is a lot of design details in this book and for the cost it's worth a punt.
Brian
I brought it so will give a review from a novices perspective when it arrives....
 

sienew

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Can't think of a book, but there are different aspects of design that need to mesh in a project. One is structure - and this is where knowledge of the structural behaviour of wood and how it can be jointed is needed. Another is function, which I see as common sense really. Then there's the aesthetic aspect of things - a sense of proportion and dealing with colour, texture, shapes ...

Yes. I think I've got a lot of the structure down and there seems to be a lot of information out there. Its the aesthetics that I'm lacking and struggling to find good sources of info for.
George R. Walker has some nice videos and books about the elements of classic design. He's on youtube and has some streaming videos on the Lie-Nielsen website.
Will check them out, thank you!

I brought it so will give a review from a novices perspective when it arrives....

Please do. Was going to buy it as it seems like a bargain but a second opinion before I do is always good.


Thank you again everyone for your advice and thoughts so far.
 

rogxwhit

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The aesthetic side of design is as hard to get to grips with as any other aspect. In some ways it's more nebulous, since much of its content is cultural / emotional. When it comes to proportion and form, judgements are somewhat intuitive. The aesthetic sense of many people remains naive - they have never developed it. I wonder if aptitude is a factor too? But I'd say do lots of looking, not just at wooden items but at made things of all kinds. And reflect on your reactions. It's possible to be analytical to a degree. But you have to immerse yourself in the field.
 

johnnyb

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this is a bit like are there any books on writing music I'm good at playing an instrument but want a book on writing a tune. the music you write will reflect your personal likes. so pick what you really love and then try and distil it into an essence that ticks your boxes.
 

rogxwhit

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Design is a process. To design a chair, say, which is a very structural item where parts & joints can be more stressed than say a cupboard, you might begin with a skeleton idea for a structure, maybe like a matchstick cartoon where matchsticks are allowed to be bent, and sketch this on paper with a pencil. You'll be considering compression, tension, racking, twisting and all the forces. Imagine somebody heavy leaning back and tilting the chair onto its back legs. Without this being a pun, it's seat of the pants stuff - there are no numbers.

I'd use an A4 or an A3 pad - cartridge or layout, it's handy to have both because you can trace through layout. You might want to sketch alternative arrangements. Your mind might lead you to experiment with a particular detail. What you're doing is letting your mind wander, exploring different options. You will go down culdesacs and retreat. Ideas are jostling in the melting pot. The paper is filling up ...

If a detail doesn't gel, sleep on it - for a night, a week, a month. The answer can appear unexpectedly.

Eventually you might produce a scale drawing - or a full size one - or a rough mock-up - or a prototype. None of these are essential, you just do what you feel you need to prove the pudding.

The design process might extend into the actual making phase, assessing and modifying things as you go.

And I'm struggling a bit to think of how a book could help!
 

Jameshow

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Books are great for techniques and joints and best practice. Less so for design....

I find looking at antique furniture inspirational see how they made things in the past perhaps copy it and give it a sharper more modern look.

I find looking at others work too, like the "what have you made today" thread and wip threads give me great ideas!!

Finally just having on eye for proportion and dimensions helps too. If I can not sleep I'll given myself a item to design in my head work out the best use of materials etc I'm asleep before I know it!!!
 

TomGW

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Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll get that.

This is the style of cabinet that I’m interested in making, either as ‘built in’ or free standing. See page 31 of this thread:


Or page 15 of this thread:

 
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