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Newbie Woodworkers' Design issue #1 - Checkerboard syndrome..Everything is black & white

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Forum topic by Chelios posted 1237 days ago 868 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chelios

567 posts in 1690 days


1237 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question

Or red and white?

As I made my first pieces and got more and more into the design, my work evolved from being very spontaneous, to the point of not knowing how the piece would come together, to a more planned approach as to the joinery the milling, wood grain orientation, shapes, ratios etc.

As I got more involved in the planning of my projects, I started looking back at my first pieces and I came to the realization that I suffered from what I now call the black and white (checkerboard) syndrome. My projects had to have the contrasting colors of maple/padauk or maple bloodwood.

Once I realized this I started observing other people’s work and I found that many other fellow woodworkers went through or are going through the same checkerboard phase.

Follow this Lumberjocks tag so you can see what I mean http://lumberjocks.com/projects/tag/walnut

So the question tonight is does making black/white furniture say “new woodworker”? Or is just trendy to use these contrasts?


13 replies so far

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Chelios

567 posts in 1690 days


#1 posted 1237 days ago

I will also clarify that I still consider myself a beginer.

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wseand

2119 posts in 1666 days


#2 posted 1237 days ago

I think most people go with what looks good and then expands upon that. Contrast is a good design feature in everyday life. Not only in WW but in, interior and exterior design, clothing, and so on I don’t see how it is anything new maybe just leaning towards certain colors. Reds and whites, light and dark brown woods, those are the main colors unless you stain of course. Maybe I am full of crap, I don’t know. Maybe the availability or price of woods depicts what we buy/use, maybe its a trend, I am not really sure. Although, I wouldn’t call it checkerboard, I would call it contrasting elements or something to that effect.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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bubinga

861 posts in 1292 days


#3 posted 1237 days ago

Using contrasting woods ,is simply ,pleasing to the eye I wouldn’t call it checkerboard ether

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

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pete79

154 posts in 1765 days


#4 posted 1237 days ago

As a beginning woodworker, I agree with EJ and Bill. I know that I use contrasting woods whenever I can, but in combination with interesting grain patterns as well. I think this is to help add interest to a piece that otherwise would not be as interesting given that as a beginning woodworker, my abilities with different joints and styles has a long way to go still. As we evolve in our woodworking skill, we’re able to do more from a design/joint perspective that may reduce the need to use contrasting woods to add interest to a project. Just my .02

-- Life is a one lap race.

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Chelios

567 posts in 1690 days


#5 posted 1236 days ago

Well for sure it makes for more interesting pieces, I agree with that. However I have been observing that contrasting woods in hobby woodworkers’ furniture is more prevalent than in furniture made by more experienced woodworkers that actually make their living from the pieces they sell. I don’t mean to make general statements, it was just something I noticed and I was wondering of other people out there had thought about it.

In the future, I will be paying closer attention to these details and probably won’t be as bold/obvious with contrast but more subtle.

all the best

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mafe

9482 posts in 1713 days


#6 posted 1236 days ago

I don’t know for wood worker, but as a architect I know this.
Most new architects paly with all the elements, and large contrasts.
Then when you get more and more talented, you tend to be able to see the details, to find the pleasure in a simple design with a little twist that makes the difference, that the house seen as a eye opener not so often is the one that brings the biggest joy. That the details is where good are seperated from less good.
A good advice is to stay in the same level always, that means that if you work in contrast do it to the full / if you work in the details try to keep it simple.
Personally I prefere the little twist.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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Tony_S

420 posts in 1707 days


#7 posted 1236 days ago

Ive often thought about this when designing a project, and it’s an area where I can really struggle with when I’m in the planning stages. I think contrasting woods can bring a piece of furniture to life, or they can be so distracting, that it can completely ruin a beautiful design. Most often, I find it’s a very fine line between the two.
A lot of different factors can play into this. Type of furniture, design style, the species you’d like to use as a contrast and the proportions of that contrast…just to mention a few.
There’s a reason people go to design school! LOL!

I think this quite often, is where the ‘newbie’ struggles (unknowingly) when designing, AND reproducing. They see a ‘kick ass’ design, and think they can ‘improve’ it by changing this, add some contrast to that…..what they quite often do is cause a distraction rather than make an improvement.

I’m not saying that you can’t, or shouldn’t improve an idea that you’ve seen…not at all. But realize that sometimes a subtle change or contrast can have a much better impact and be more pleasing to the eye than a large one.

-- "The trouble with people idiot-proofing things, is the resulting evolution of the idiot."

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Chelios

567 posts in 1690 days


#8 posted 1236 days ago

Mads

You explained it perfectly, thank you for sharing your insight and experience. Creative sense develops in steps and it is great to learn from yours. I can understand exactly what you mean by introducing a small twist in a simple design. I very much like the concept and enjoy looking at these types of creations. You and Tony have re-assured me on to the next step.

thank you both!

all the best

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mafe

9482 posts in 1713 days


#9 posted 1236 days ago

I had a tear in my eye reading your words, it’s rare these days to meet a person who can take a advice in such a good way. Thank you.
What you have experienced is healthy, it means that you have been full of exitement, and this is priceless.
Now you take the next step, and this is not for all to ever get there, so I congrat you, and wish you a wonderful travel into this new land.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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chrisstef

10618 posts in 1631 days


#10 posted 1235 days ago

Ya guys got me thinkin here … I have a feeling that i know where you’re at and im going to try to explain it in relation to my status as a wood worker. Im at the stage right now where im still learning and tuning my joinery and overall measurements, so much of my time is dedicated to ehancing my abilities in that aspect, the designing, or the twist, hasnt been my overall focus. This is not to say that i never think about decorative design, i do, and the farthest my brain has gone is to use contrasting colors. Its easy and pleasing … for now. Im full on checkerboard.

Not be be callous but when i do something and invest my time into it, i want to be good, I like to think of it as competitive nature. Be a little bit better every day, just a little bit, at least try to. To find my way to a place where Mads and others around here are would be like making it to the big leagues in my opinion. I find that this is a hobby of limitless capabilities; as proven around this site.

Chelios – You’ve got a step on me but i think i learned a lot from this thread. I just may go back to the drawing board on the current piece im working on. The wheel’s are greased and they’re turnin.

Mad’s – Seriously you’re a smart guy. Thanks for passing some knowledge on, i appreciate it.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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mafe

9482 posts in 1713 days


#11 posted 1235 days ago

I’m a beginner of woodworking, trust me!
I have done house restore bricklaying, concrete work, even roofing, some terraces, a couple of kitchens, one old, and build some sheds and play houses, beds for garden and so and so. I had a hopeless Stanley with replaceable blades and some crap chisels and a skill saw to do it all. This was up until about two years ago, since then I started to look into this old dream of woodworking, and now I travel the road, step by step, I try and try, learn and learn. Yes I have an education as a building technician and an Architect, but this doesn’t make me a woodworker. I always dreamed of this, but never had the time, and the money. Now I have the time, and spend money I did not really have, but build up my workshop on a lot of vintage tools that I got at fair prices by being patient on e-bay. So NO, I’m in no woodworking league, just a beginner full of passion and some well trained eyes for design and quality (I believe).
I had a operation in my neck that made me retire due to health, I spend the last two days throwing up from pain and migraine from my neck tensions – trust me, I’m as human as can be.
So go for it! I do.
Best of my thoughts and a good travel,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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Chelios

567 posts in 1690 days


#12 posted 1235 days ago

Mads

It is indeed a wonderful journey. One that I am glad I get to have the chance to walk. I am glad we can come across so many great people that open our eyes along the way. Thank you again for that. I hope you are feeling better.

chrisstef, I am glad it worked for you as well. I will be looking forward to seeing that project.

all the best

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mafe

9482 posts in 1713 days


#13 posted 1235 days ago

Yes I’m taking a slow up tour thank you.
Glad also we came along on this journey.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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