Building from plans?

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Forum topic by AWood posted 03-19-2008 04:32 AM 1177 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 3745 days

03-19-2008 04:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

When I first started building furniture I liked the traditional colonial style of early american such as the Ethan Allen furniture. In most cases any pieces I see, I take down the dimensions,take a few pictures and off to the shop I would go. I never much got into buiding anything by plans. Most sets of plans that I saw, the designs of were pretty basic and limiited.I always got the pleasure of building something that I saw in my head and produced a finished piece. I am sure that most of the craftesman on this site and with the complexities of some of their work, plans are used. But in general how are most of you guys building your projects?

-- AllWood

19 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3873 days

#1 posted 03-19-2008 04:39 AM

I enjoy tinkering and piecing things together, but when you are trying to turn out work with a deadline, having plans and cutlists saves huge amounts of time.

-- -- --

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3987 days

#2 posted 03-19-2008 04:51 AM

I usually just wing it, but it takes a lot of time stop and think about your next step.

I like to make at least some general dimensions on paper to start with. It all depends
on what I’m building.

Having a set of good plans takes all the thinking away between steps so things go a lot faster.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3873 days

#3 posted 03-19-2008 10:08 AM

Several of my projects were designed in process, but I get better results from plans.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3821 days

#4 posted 03-19-2008 11:33 AM

I generally like to use plans since I tend to have trouble with overcoming the difficulty I have with worrying about details of the project. Plus I need a design to work with and am on the steep side of the Sketchup learning curve right now. If I wing it I usually get myself in trouble.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3767 days

#5 posted 03-19-2008 12:27 PM

i dont use plans much. the printer table im making is all my own creation just from a saturday morning a measured the space and made all the dimensions. if i see something that i like that is already on plans. ill use that though.

View runngt's profile


120 posts in 3738 days

#6 posted 03-19-2008 01:48 PM

I would not mind to build from plans if I wern’t too darn cheap to pay for them ! : )


-- It seem's I just make scrap wood and saw dust most of the time !

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3773 days

#7 posted 03-19-2008 02:38 PM

When I decide to build something, I figure out the over all size of the piece and determine what size all the compartments will be. This is done by a few sketches of the face frame or the front of the cabinet. I make a complete cutting list of the unit before I start. Because I have done this for so many years I have been Blessed with the ablity to visualize all the parts. I then cut the whole cabinet before I start the assembly.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3881 days

#8 posted 03-19-2008 02:47 PM

I guess like others have said here, I start with simple paper drawings and adjust in the shop as I go along. Seems like it would be better to completely design it all in SketchUp, create drawings, and cut to them, but it is not how I really do it. I have more fun keeping the design in my head, since this is just supposed to be fun for me. It gives me something to think about during my commute.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View AWood's profile


51 posts in 3745 days

#9 posted 03-19-2008 02:49 PM

Thanks guys. Gary you pretty well summed up my routine of construction. I am in the not to distant future planning to build a grandfather clock. Probably my next winter project (provided I am not shovelling as much snow as this year)I am seriously considering cherry wood. I am looking for something ornate and draw in all my tools and 25 years of hobby woodworking. I am going to do some serious looking around and I am sure with the intracacies and details a set of plans is how I will go.
Any good places to go and look or a source of good plans?

-- AllWood

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3864 days

#10 posted 03-19-2008 03:09 PM

I enjoy a good plan. I’m early enough in my life as a woodworker that I am still learning a lot and having a guide, even if just scribbled notes, really helps. Most of the pieces I have made so far have been from a plan that I either found in a book/magazine, found online, or purchased.

That being said, I have found myself moving away from that. Some of my recent ideas have started as a plan that I saw but I didn’t like the layout or dimensions of so I re-drew. Even further, I am always finding myself trying to figure out how someone else did it. I have note books full of sketches and notes on a piece that I just saw or dreamed up. I haven’t had the luxury time wise to really attempt any of those pieces, but I am excited about the prospect of doing them later (that’s why I keep them in a notebook).


-- He said wood...

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3938 days

#11 posted 03-19-2008 06:39 PM

To paraphrase a quote I once heard, I read plans like I read science fiction, I get to the end and say, “That’s never gonna happen.” I think I’m like a lot of the folks here, I work from a picture and get some rough dimensions then have at it. I am, however, working on learning to draw accurate plans so that I can actually reproduce something in the future.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Paul M's profile

Paul M

89 posts in 3719 days

#12 posted 03-20-2008 01:39 AM

I started out using plans, but then needed to change some to make things fit into the space alloted, so went to doing some drafting that I had learned in school.

In a past job, I got into CAD and it is great. So once I visualize what I want to do, All I need are the basic size needed and then can draw plans that are spot on accurate. (More accurate than my measuring/cutting.) Plus you can go back and find a sizes if needed.

Whatever works!!

-- Paul from New England "No man is a failure who is enjoying life". William Feather

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3768 days

#13 posted 03-20-2008 02:16 AM

For my own work (my wife’s) I don’t use a plan, just an idea

For commission work, I do detailed drawings. Then a cutting list, then I throw it all away and work by “engineering on the fly”

I like to let the wood do the planning.

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3722 days

#14 posted 03-20-2008 03:21 AM

My wife will say, “I would like this…” This seems to be a trend here.

Anyway, I have the idea of what I want and then draw a quick sketch with rough measurments. After that, it’s off to the shop where I usually throw the sketch to the side and work from my memory of what I grew, and what I want it to be. A plan is nothing more than something to be deviated from. I like to see the finished product from the beginning.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View john's profile


2370 posts in 4380 days

#15 posted 03-20-2008 03:39 AM

I like the idea of making plans but not following them.

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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