What Makes a "Good" Woodworking Plan? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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What Makes a "Good" Woodworking Plan?

Hi Everyone,

I am working on an FAQ page for an online woodworking marketplace website and would love some feedback. We're trying to give designers guidelines as to what makes a good woodworking plan. Of course there are many variables depending on the project, but here's what I've come up with as common attributes so far. What do you think should be changed or added to the list?
  • An exploded diagram that shows all the parts and how the fit together.
  • Dimension information on individual pieces
  • A material list (it can be helpful to include vendor information for specialty items like hardware)
  • A cutting diagram (how you might cut the individual pieces out of a piece of wood to minimize waste).
  • Step-by-step instructions. Photos or illustrations of intermediate steps can be very helpful
  • Tips
Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 02:46 PM
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On your second item add the word ACCURATE dimensions! Russ
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will.F View Post
Hi Everyone,


I am working on an FAQ page for an online woodworking marketplace website and would love some feedback. We're trying to give designers guidelines as to what makes a good woodworking plan. Of course there are many variables depending on the project, but here's what I've come up with as common attributes so far. What do you think should be changed or added to the list?
  • An exploded diagram that shows all the parts and how the fit together.
  • Dimension information on individual pieces
  • A material list (it can be helpful to include vendor information for specialty items like hardware)
  • A cutting diagram (how you might cut the individual pieces out of a piece of wood to minimize waste).
  • Step-by-step instructions. Photos or illustrations of intermediate steps can be very helpful
  • Tips
Thanks for your help!
*An exploded diagram would be too busy and confusing for many
beginners. I think it would be better to show the item
assembled, maybe from different angles and number the parts.

* Dimension information on individual pieces would be good as
long as it included specifications on dowel holes or other means
of fastening.

* A material list would be good unless it was so specific the user
could not find a particular brand of hardware in their area.

* I would not use the cutting diagram. For the beginner, he's got
enough to worry about making the project without being
sidetracked with waste. It would be enough to
point out to make the biggest pieces first and work down to
the smallest. This could also be accomplished by the step by
step instructions with pictures and illustrations to make the
project in the order that would produce the least waste.


* I would be careful listing a project that takes a lot of
professional tools. Chances are if someone is using plans they
don't have a fully equipped shop. I saw a home wood projects
book once that the book was showing to use a hollow punch
mortising machine. I have a cabinet shop and this
is something I don't have.
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 07:46 PM
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The first word should be....

FREE
and not some numerical figure, like 10,000 or 16,000 and not followed by the name Ted. I'm bring cynical of course, I just wonder how many plans are sold online vs full size detailed drawings. I like to work full size, but that's just me. I also really don't use plans, but that's just me, sorry, not much help.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
FREE
and not some numerical figure, like 10,000 or 16,000 and not followed by the name Ted. I'm bring cynical of course, I just wonder how many plans are sold online vs full size detailed drawings. I like to work full size, but that's just me. I also really don't use plans, but that's just me, sorry, not much help.
So, why bother to reply to this...it's probably spam anyway.






.
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 08:20 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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'cause

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
So, why bother to reply to this...it's probably spam anyway.






.

Just tryin' to be helpful, not critical.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Just tryin' to be helpful, not critical.








.
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
FREE
and not some numerical figure, like 10,000 or 16,000 and not followed by the name Ted. I'm bring cynical of course, I just wonder how many plans are sold online vs full size detailed drawings. I like to work full size, but that's just me. I also really don't use plans, but that's just me, sorry, not much help.
I think there will be many plans for free, but it's up the designers to set the price. I keep seeing the above mentioned add on the internet and it is surely a scam. I've also seen other sites dedicated to free plans, and even though the search experience is difficult, the price is right. The Full Size point is a good one, and one I've seen come up a few times. Thanks for your input.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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Steve - you bring up and interesting points. Overly complicated plans/instructions should probably be labeled as higher skill level. I'm curious about your comment regarding people who use plans. Do most craftsmen with full shops not use plans?
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will.F View Post
Steve - you bring up and interesting points. Overly complicated plans/instructions should probably be labeled as higher skill level. I'm curious about your comment regarding people who use plans. Do most craftsmen with full shops not use plans?
I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I've never known any experienced craftsman that doesn't make their own plans so I guess I incorrectly made the assumption that people using plans were novice's. Usually with project plans, the style or size wouldn't fit my needs so I usually start with a photo or pencil sketch. I even worked for a guy one time that wouldn't let you make plans. He said just built it, don't draw it. If you look at my photos the grandfather clock I built at age 17 in high school wood shop. I ordered the movement by mail order and made my own plans.
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
So, why bother to reply to this...it's probably spam anyway.






.
Ok guys no it's not spam from what i can tell. I did remove the first post until I had a minute to find out more. So either help out or not. Just don't hijack and ruin the thread because you think its spam.
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post #12 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
*An exploded diagram would be too busy and confusing for many
beginners. I think it would be better to show the item
assembled, maybe from different angles and number the parts.
* Dimension information on individual pieces would be good as
long as it included specifications on dowel holes or other means
of fastening.
* A material list would be good unless it was so specific the user
could not find a particular brand of hardware in their area.
* I would not use the cutting diagram. For the beginner, he's got
enough to worry about making the project without being
sidetracked with waste. It would be enough to
point out to make the biggest pieces first and work down to
the smallest. This could also be accomplished by the step by
step instructions with pictures and illustrations to make the
project in the order that would produce the least waste.

* I would be careful listing a project that takes a lot of
professional tools. Chances are if someone is using plans they
don't have a fully equipped shop. I saw a home wood projects
book once that the book was showing to use a hollow punch
mortising machine. I have a cabinet shop and this
is something I don't have.
While I think that your comments are good and thoughtful, I do not think that they apply to plans in general. Unless I missed it I did not see that the original poster was referring to having these plans appropriate only for a beginner.

If I was going to be using "store bought" plans I liked what was presented.

George
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post #13 of 19 Old 04-01-2012, 10:53 PM
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proofing the plans by actually building the product, not a CAD only.....
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post #14 of 19 Old 04-02-2012, 02:09 PM
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Two things I almost always find missing from plans:

1) A list of "gotcha"s. For instance, "It looks like you can add this piece later more easily. You can't." Basically, notes on things you can't get from reading the instructions without extra notes.

2) An alternative to work requiring a dedicated machine. I tend to ignore plans that assume you have a router table, because I don't have one. Plans that say "This is easiest on a router table, but you could also use a (insert inexpensive hand tool here). It's a lot slower, but it will work" get a lot more attention.
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post #15 of 19 Old 04-02-2012, 10:18 PM
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For what it's worth I have been checking out the Site that these questions were for. I have had a few back and forth emails about the purpose and process of the site. They have responded very well and have been extremely receptive to my opinion about there sign up process including several of the details about the cost and membership.

Basically you can sign up as a member to shop or sell woodworking plans. They have a hobby and a professional level membership for the selling of plans. They also have a share section which I will be finding out more about.

My point is if anyone has there plans that they want to sell this could be a good thing. For those looking to buy plans like they come on here all the time it may turn into a decent sight for that also.

If Will the OP has any info on the share part of the site please let us know what it is. i will also be back in touch with Russ who I been speaking with at Sawtooth Ideas.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-03-2012, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amckenzie4 View Post
Two things I almost always find missing from plans:

1) A list of "gotcha"s. For instance, "It looks like you can add this piece later more easily. You can't." Basically, notes on things you can't get from reading the instructions without extra notes.

2) An alternative to work requiring a dedicated machine. I tend to ignore plans that assume you have a router table, because I don't have one. Plans that say "This is easiest on a router table, but you could also use a (insert inexpensive hand tool here). It's a lot slower, but it will work" get a lot more attention.
This is really great information. Thanks!!
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post #17 of 19 Old 04-03-2012, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rrbrown View Post
For what it's worth I have been checking out the Site that these questions were for. I have had a few back and forth emails about the purpose and process of the site. They have responded very well and have been extremely receptive to my opinion about there sign up process including several of the details about the cost and membership.

Basically you can sign up as a member to shop or sell woodworking plans. They have a hobby and a professional level membership for the selling of plans. They also have a share section which I will be finding out more about.

My point is if anyone has there plans that they want to sell this could be a good thing. For those looking to buy plans like they come on here all the time it may turn into a decent sight for that also.

If Will the OP has any info on the share part of the site please let us know what it is. i will also be back in touch with Russ who I been speaking with at Sawtooth Ideas.
I really didn't start this post to advertise the site (I removed the name from the original post)...this forum has given us some really great feedback, not only from Richard, but from everyone who has posted about the FAQ page. So Thank You!!!

The SHARE part of the site will most likely include joinable groups (woodworking clubs etc...) as well as blogs and other how-to media. We're still working out the details, so if you have suggestions, please let me know.
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post #18 of 19 Old 04-03-2012, 04:55 PM
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Will,

I think your original list is pretty good. I build both with and without plans and consider myself to be about halfway between a "wood butcher" and a "pro" I personally really like exploded views, but they are not always needed. Detail drawings are very good, especially when there are complex shapes involved or multiple cuts on the same part. I also like to have tips on ways to achieve a certain cut; I may have my way of doing it, but that doesn't mean someone else's idea won't work for me too!

George

I Peter 2:17
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-03-2012, 04:57 PM
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oh yeah, another really great addition to a set of plans is to not only have a full bill of materials, but also nesting diagrams that show how to lay the pieces out on your material for the most use of your stock.

George

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