Reply by GerardW

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Posted on How do you work ? From detailed drawn out plans and sketches,or by rote ?

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44 posts in 1787 days

#1 posted 06-18-2013 04:19 PM

I too am a new/novice/amateur woodworker. I have a background in theatre set construction… though I was originally trained as an actor. Part of the requirements for my acting scholarship was that I had to help out with tech stuff, and I found myself in love with working in the shop. Lots of building 4×8 platforms from cheap wood, then painting to cover the imperfections. Everything we built there was designed very meticulously in the groundplan (i.e. where it will sit on stage and how people will look at it) but the specifics of HOW to construct it were often left to the shop foreman and many a blank piece of printer paper handed to a drill-monkey. Also, this stuff was all intended to look good from 25 feet away and last for a max of one month before it fell apart.

That process is decidedly different than the woodworking I’ve come to enjoy. Even when I got my own theatre shop to manage (two years at a university) I only moved to using Google SketchUp (free 3d design program) to put together the working drawings and help me figure out board feet for my lumber orders. Although when it came to building the stuff I still ended up printing those pages out, bringing them into the shop… and often changing them with pencil marks.

The woodworking projects I’ve done in my garage shop so far have moved from following online how to’s (sometimes so strictly following what the original poster did that I abandon all reason and common sense), to Wood magazine projects (still enjoy those, and modify them to be more what I’m looking for) and now i am working on my first project for a “client” (friend wanted a coffee table). This project I have designed in sketchup and sent to her for approvals, and updated as changes were made. However…. now the sketchup is out of date and the table is almost made. At this point I don’t need the plans any longer.

I see the point about “machining the wood”, but as a newbie I like to have something to follow- it helps me build up my skills in “safe” ways, and still gives me a decent product at the end to show for it.

Plus- thanks to LJ for all the guidance and keeping me from totally screwing up some of my personal projects!

-- Gerard in Bowie MD

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