The Golden Mean

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by Clint Searl posted 07-23-2012 12:17 AM 3320 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2539 days

07-23-2012 12:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drawer layout

The Greeks(?) derived the ratio of 1:1.618… which came to be known as the Golden Mean for its perfect proportions in the layout of a rectangle. I have used the Golden Mean to divide a sequence of drawers into a linear progression such that the first and last drawers are in the 1:1.618 ratio, whether it’s a horizontal row or a vertical stack. To determine the correct dimensions of all the drawere, I constructed an Excel spreadsheet that takes the ratio and total dimension to be divided as inputs and returns the sequence of individual dimensions for any number of divisions up to ten as the output. The program is not limited to just the Golden Mean, but will accept any ratio between the first and last. An example is my interpretation of a G&G inspired credenza that has a horizontal row of drawers and a vertical stack of drawers proportioned as described. PM me if interested in getting a copy of the spreadsheet.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

24 replies so far

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3276 days

#1 posted 07-23-2012 12:36 AM

Now thats cool.

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2801 days

#2 posted 07-23-2012 12:49 AM

I have employed the golden mean in many ways for the past 2 decades. I believe this ratio permeates our lives. That said, have you made one of these golden ration calipers?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2982 days

#3 posted 07-23-2012 01:42 AM

Looks like it works

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View madts's profile


1872 posts in 2518 days

#4 posted 07-23-2012 01:50 AM

Any time something looks good the golden ratio is in there somehow.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2539 days

#5 posted 07-23-2012 05:42 PM

The calipers are clever, but the calculator is easier and doesn’t have any length restrictions.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View waho6o9's profile


8490 posts in 2755 days

#6 posted 07-23-2012 05:51 PM,43513

Great topic, the golden ratio rulers work best for me and the set is well worth the money.
Although, the computer generating one as no limit as mentioned by Clint and could come in handy.

View MrRon's profile


5150 posts in 3421 days

#7 posted 07-27-2012 08:52 PM

Interesting. People that build live steam ride-on locomotives build to a ratio of 1:1.6. Thats pretty close to the golden mean. I wonder if there is a connection.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3290 posts in 3287 days

#8 posted 07-28-2012 02:19 AM

The “Golden Ratio” is but one of many log-periodic ratios in use. TV antennas (the old ones that got put on the roof) also are log-periodic. Mario Livio wrote a book about this, and I tend to agree with his assessment- “The Golden Ratio is a product of humanly invented geometry”. We are a product of our surroundings, having adapted to it to survive. I think that the mathematics made us, and we discover it as we learn more…maybe we “co-evolved”.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View ChuckV's profile


3177 posts in 3705 days

#9 posted 07-28-2012 12:11 PM

This number appears all over the place. It has this fun property:
G – 1/G = 1

You can try this in a calculator:
G = 1.6180339887498948482045868343656
1/G = 0.6180339887498948482045868343656

I think of the ratio like this. Divide a line segment into two pieces so that the ratio of the whole line to the larger piece is the same as the ratio of the larger piece to the smaller piece.

There is plenty of information online. Here is the Wikipedia entry:

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Wildwood's profile


2450 posts in 2312 days

#10 posted 07-28-2012 04:48 PM

When talking about proportions can begin with known proven design standards like golden mean or rule. Those proportion do change when studying different periods and styles of furniture. Proportion ratio do change depending on piece of furniture too; end tables, entertainment centers, dining tables, and chairs for example.
Other design elements and principles of design cannot be overlooked if want to move your furniture into works of art.

Elements are the build blocks of design: color, line, shape or form, space, and texture.
Principles of design, which often overlap: Balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity.

Of course, none of this is important if furniture fails function and aesthetics buyers want. Alternatively, if there is total lack of craftsmanship forget everything said here.

Love the piece shown by OP!

-- Bill

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1108 posts in 2412 days

#11 posted 07-28-2012 11:45 PM

I have no and I mean no math background besides add, subtract, multipyl and divide. The a’s, b, and x’s mean nothing to me. If I had a box with a 12’’ long front what should the side be.?

-- Jerry

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2801 days

#12 posted 07-29-2012 01:36 PM


-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View a1Jim's profile


117283 posts in 3755 days

#13 posted 07-29-2012 01:43 PM

I know this works for many folks but I trust my eye as to proper proportions . I guess we all do what works for us.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3252 days

#14 posted 07-29-2012 02:04 PM

Just as an FYI – Some people may not realize this.

If you have a golden rectangle and you draw a line across it that divides the rectangle into a square and what is left over, what is left over is also a golden rectangle, albeit smaller.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2653 days

#15 posted 07-29-2012 02:09 PM

hmmm..ok maybe I will get flamed for this, but the golden mean is not always golden…the top row just does not work for me. I would have made 2 equal length drawers with a short one in the middle. There is just something strange about the progressive series on the top row.

On the piece itself the quality of your craftsmanship is flawless. Although I applaud the intention of not just copying the G&G style the doors for me are just too busy, too many accent plugs. And those hinges….For the next one I recommend you look at the Soss hidden hinges.

The choice of wood for the pulls as well as the face of the drawers takes away some of the beauty of your craftsmanship, the pulls are beautiful but they get lost on the face of the drawers. I would have used a contrasting wood with no figure so that the face of the drawers look more impressive.

As I stated, overall you clearly have the craftsmanship, but the devil is in the details and the piece is just too busy for me. Something the G&G brothers tried to avoid at all costs.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics