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post #1 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Can I Build It?

That might be a question you ask yourself when you have a project in mind. I'm not bashing the idea of buying plans. There's a lot of requests about buying plans, so I thought having a discussion about "to buy, or not" might help. I'd like to also include the freebe plans that are available.

Most custom woodworking and cabinet shops can't buy explicit plans for projects that walk in the door. From my own experience I can say it can be pretty scary. Even after all these years it's a challenge to take on a project and be responsible for gettin' it right. So, how is it done?

My method is to just look at the idea, and figure out what steps I have to go through to make it look like the idea. I may do many rough pencil sketches until I get very close. I may present those sketches for approval.

Among the rough sketches, I'll do a rough explosion drawing to show the joinery and general details. Then I take the sketch and draw it to scale on a drafting table (that's right, a drafting table). I'll draw a floor plan, plan views, elevations, sections, and detail drawings. I know I've posted this before, but I feel getting specific in the "to buy plans or not" thinking process might make trying your own hand at the planning stage would broaden your scope as a woodworker.

At first for some it might be easier to buy plans just to see how someone else relates how to make or build something. Plans are generally set forth in a typical format. A materials and cutlist may also be included. Seeing how that's done could be helpful. Once you get the procedure for drawing up a set of plans, you will see how to improve it by just doing the work as the plan indicates, and your work progresses through to completion. You might find areas of improvement in details, or maybe drawing a joint from a different angle.

For a large project like a kitchen, I use a method like I found as a kid putting model cars and airplanes together. I make several copies of the pages of the plans and mark right on a page in either a letter or a number for each cabinet, the doors as they lay on the cabinets, drawer fronts, drawers, shelves, and every panel that makes up the entire job. Those numbers or letters then get put on each piece as they are cut. I wind up with several sheets, each may be for a specific part. For example, one sheet may be just an elevation showing all the doors on the cabinets, with their corresponding number or letter. I will also have a cutout sheet with many rectangles representing 4x8 sheets and draw on each rectangle the cutout layout for each numbered or lettered item.

What does that do? Well, it tells me how to cut up a sheet, which sizes first and in which order, which allows me to maximize material and minimize waste. It also will tell me if I'm missing anything, by just looking at the parts and their markings and comparing them to the drawing. It's a fool proof system that works great. It sounds like a lot of paperwork, but, a project with a lot of parts can be confusing when cabinet panels can be close in size to some doors or shelves.

There are other advantages. It keeps parts separated and will keep parts that need certain machining readily available. This all may sound confusing, but developing your own methods takes its course and will become a habit that just happens. For other projects, the paperwork may not be as involved, but the design end of planning a project into plans become easier.

Doing your own plans will bring you closer to the work that is needed to be done, as you will be thinking of the variables in making the project from just an idea or rough sketch. You may find yourself understanding joinery to a greater degree in just planning out which joint to use where. Personally, I find as much fun in the planning stages as I do in the fabrication. It's not that difficult...you'll see.

Besides, if you get in a jam, there's always help on the forum.






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post #2 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:07 AM
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good advice hate to sound crude... but if you cant plan/design it chances are you cant build it
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 11:02 AM
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writing plan

I use a plan that is wrote out, i do each job with what i think something should look like. I can't see what the item is like because i am totally blind, there for the cuts can be put on a tape player so i have a list of the cuts. but i have done this type work for 22 years. carl.
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post #4 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 05:05 PM
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I use a plan that is wrote out, i do each job with what i think something should look like. I can't see what the item is like because i am totally blind, there for the cuts can be put on a tape player so i have a list of the cuts. but i have done this type work for 22 years. carl.
what a blind woodworker..... seriously you deserve an award or something! that is amazing! you got balls
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:22 PM
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I have bought plans and I have also drawn my own. For me it just depends on the project. If I am not sure exactly how I want to do something or how it will all go together, I will find a plan and go from there. I usually won't follow a plan to the letter. I will take the parts that I needed it for and then I will modify to meet what I want. Most things I will draw on my own. I will figure dimensions and do a rough sketch to make it all fit. Once I have the sketch done I will figure out what I need for materials. I don't always look for plans, to me it is not one of a kind if you buy a plan for it.

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post #6 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 11:03 PM
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Building kitchens is pretty simple [to me]. Boxes, face frames, doors, drawers. All simple to do, just assemble. My usual plans consist of a picture of what I am going to build with dimension. I'll break it down into a parts list. For boxes I would take the parts list and make it into a plywood nest diagram. I use to do this by hand using a parts list and a CAD. Just keep laying out sides, tops, bottoms etc until I was done. Now I use eCabinet to do it. I am more efficient at it, but eCabs does it in minutes where I might take an hour or three to lay it all out. The time saved equals a few sheets wasted. It usually comes out a bust. I like to use a CAD program to figure things out for two reasons. One, it shows things in proper perspective and two, it is a lot easier to redo if something needs to change.

There isn't much that I draw out in specific detail as to how it will be built and joinery. I've done this long enough to know how to do it.

I do make parts list
I do front on drawings

But I rarely make specific drawings for different pcs. I have work to do.

Measure Twice Cut Once -- It's a lot easier to cut more off then it is to cut MORON.
Finishing is 3 parts chemistry and 1 part VooDoo http://lrgwood.com

Last edited by Leo G; 02-14-2009 at 11:13 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-16-2009, 11:38 AM
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I'm a hobbyist, not a professional so I have more flexibility in designing things that I feel like building. What I usually do is search online for different pictures of things that I want to build (clocks, medicine cabinets, tables, etc...), and then spend a little time thinking about all of the different design ideas that I've seen. Once I have conceptualize something that I like, I start drawing up my own crude plans (which I've been know to modify slightly while I'm building). This is probably one of the reasons it takes me so much longer to get anything finished, but for me it is a stress reliving hobby.
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-26-2012, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Malamute View Post
I'm a hobbyist, not a professional so I have more flexibility in designing things that I feel like building. What I usually do is search online for different pictures of things that I want to build (clocks, medicine cabinets, tables, etc...), and then spend a little time thinking about all of the different design ideas that I've seen. Once I have conceptualize something that I like, I start drawing up my own crude plans (which I've been know to modify slightly while I'm building). This is probably one of the reasons it takes me so much longer to get anything finished, but for me it is a stress reliving hobby.
Hi Texas Malamute,

I have to agree with you and my biggest challenge is convincing my wife her builder is good, just slow.

My little This Old South Workshop avatar picture is one example. We saw a garden shed locally for sale that was over several thousand dollars. I went back up there and did a couple of measurements and came home and started building. Now she thinks I can do anything by just looking at it.

Oh boy, I have got to get to work.

As NORM always says...
"and don't forget to wear these, safety glasses"
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-26-2012, 02:30 PM
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I'm not opposed to using someone else's plans but I am a [email protected]$$. If I see something in a woodworking magazine or book I may use those plans exactly as they say or modify as I see fit (usually modify), but if the plans will cost me I'll just look at some examples and draw it up. I will say that I get more of a feeling of pride and accomplishment when I finish something that I've come up with on my own and worked through.
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-26-2012, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Texas Malamute View Post
This is probably one of the reasons it takes me so much longer to get anything finished, but for me it is a stress reliving hobby.
Blegh, who wants to relive their stress? Me, I'll take stress relief...

As for the topic of discussion... I always either just draw a picture and wing it, or heavily (usually) modify the plans I'm planning to use from some other source. So far the only things I've built from someone else's plans are a kayak (heavily modified) and the "alternate methods challenge machinist chest", which is actually quite far from finished at this point. Too much life gets in the way of my woodworking, unfortunately.
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post #11 of 11 Old 04-26-2012, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
That might be a question you ask yourself when you have a project in mind. I'm not bashing the idea of buying plans. There's a lot of requests about buying plans, so I thought having a discussion about "to buy, or not" might help. I'd like to also include the freebe plans that are available.

Most custom woodworking and cabinet shops can't buy explicit plans for projects that walk in the door. From my own experience I can say it can be pretty scary. Even after all these years it's a challenge to take on a project and be responsible for gettin' it right. So, how is it done?

My method is to just look at the idea, and figure out what steps I have to go through to make it look like the idea. I may do many rough pencil sketches until I get very close. I may present those sketches for approval.

Among the rough sketches, I'll do a rough explosion drawing to show the joinery and general details. Then I take the sketch and draw it to scale on a drafting table (that's right, a drafting table). I'll draw a floor plan, plan views, elevations, sections, and detail drawings. I know I've posted this before, but I feel getting specific in the "to buy plans or not" thinking process might make trying your own hand at the planning stage would broaden your scope as a woodworker.

At first for some it might be easier to buy plans just to see how someone else relates how to make or build something. Plans are generally set forth in a typical format. A materials and cutlist may also be included. Seeing how that's done could be helpful. Once you get the procedure for drawing up a set of plans, you will see how to improve it by just doing the work as the plan indicates, and your work progresses through to completion. You might find areas of improvement in details, or maybe drawing a joint from a different angle.

For a large project like a kitchen, I use a method like I found as a kid putting model cars and airplanes together. I make several copies of the pages of the plans and mark right on a page in either a letter or a number for each cabinet, the doors as they lay on the cabinets, drawer fronts, drawers, shelves, and every panel that makes up the entire job. Those numbers or letters then get put on each piece as they are cut. I wind up with several sheets, each may be for a specific part. For example, one sheet may be just an elevation showing all the doors on the cabinets, with their corresponding number or letter. I will also have a cutout sheet with many rectangles representing 4x8 sheets and draw on each rectangle the cutout layout for each numbered or lettered item.

What does that do? Well, it tells me how to cut up a sheet, which sizes first and in which order, which allows me to maximize material and minimize waste. It also will tell me if I'm missing anything, by just looking at the parts and their markings and comparing them to the drawing. It's a fool proof system that works great. It sounds like a lot of paperwork, but, a project with a lot of parts can be confusing when cabinet panels can be close in size to some doors or shelves.

There are other advantages. It keeps parts separated and will keep parts that need certain machining readily available. This all may sound confusing, but developing your own methods takes its course and will become a habit that just happens. For other projects, the paperwork may not be as involved, but the design end of planning a project into plans become easier.

Doing your own plans will bring you closer to the work that is needed to be done, as you will be thinking of the variables in making the project from just an idea or rough sketch. You may find yourself understanding joinery to a greater degree in just planning out which joint to use where. Personally, I find as much fun in the planning stages as I do in the fabrication. It's not that difficult...you'll see.

Besides, if you get in a jam, there's always help on the forum.






Nice post.
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