How to Scale up/down?

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Forum topic by JustJoe posted 05-04-2013 02:01 PM 2106 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1554 posts in 2004 days

05-04-2013 02:01 PM

Where can I find some guidelines for scaling projects up/down in size so they look good, not just shrunk or blown up, and are still usable? I’ve seen a lot of small boxes with 3/4” thick sides (and made a few too many) and they look too chunky even for my untrained non-artistic eyes. Shrink the thickness of the sides down to 1/2 and it looks good but not great. Shrink some of them down to 3/8 and it looks a bit too thin.

I want to build two 1/2” versions of a small box. The original is about the size of a machinist’s chest with 3/4” sides and a whole lot of 1/4” dividers. and drawers of various sizes. I can make it 1/2 as tall, half as deep, 1/2 as wide but what about the thickness of the wood? If I make the sides 3/8” and the dividers 1/8” it will end up being so dainty it’s not worth the risk of putting anything in the drawers (which would have bottoms made out of veneer?). So surely it’s not just a matter of dividing the thickness of the wood in half to make a 1/2 scale.

Or thinking about it from a different angle – is there a guideline that says if I’m building a box carcass with side X inches wide and Y inches long I should use wood of thickness Z?


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5 replies so far

View hobby1's profile


335 posts in 2263 days

#1 posted 05-04-2013 02:23 PM

Hi ,hope this can help,
If it were for reproducing asthetics only, by building a scaled down version, then everything would need to be scaled together, to keep the same proportions, but if it is going to function like the real thing, then think about how nonbearing house wall partitions with long lengths can be built with 2×4’s, and at the same time a small partition in a shed can be built with 2×4’s, shed being a scaled down version of a house, keeping the same scale throughout is good for model building, but in actual construction some parts may need less acurate scaling to function properly.

If you have a thickness planer, then you have the advantage of sneaking up on a good looking thickness without sacrificing the strength, of the workpiece.

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2832 days

#2 posted 05-04-2013 02:25 PM

There is a tool that every woodworker should have. It can instantaneously accomplish anything like this along with a whole host of other things. I know that you will think that I’m crazy but it is an inexpensive CAD program like Turbocad. It is not that difficult to learn with the tutorials that come with it and you can easily begin using it on the very first day for a great many things. Here's the link.

I get absolutely nothing out of recommending it other than from the satisfaction of recommending a tool that I use that works well.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2004 days

#3 posted 05-04-2013 03:14 PM

Thanks Charles but I’ve used Turbocad. It can scale, but all it does is the math. There is still no button that says “make this look good but still be strong enough to function.”

Hobby1 – thanks, I know what you’re saying but I’m hoping someone’s actually done small-scale furniture before and has worked out the best proportions to split the difference. I’ve got a back issue of Scale Wood-Craft (1986) here on my desk. It deals in much smaller scales than I am interested in, but it looks like even down at the super-miniature size the length/width of a piece will be in scale to the original, but thickness seems to be fudged. I guess it’s an optical illusion or trick of the eye but a dollhouse dresser that might have 1/32” thick sides if true to scale looks ridiculous with 1/32” thick sides, but looks correct with 1/16” sides, even if that means the piece it represents must have been 2.5” thick.

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View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2656 days

#4 posted 05-05-2013 01:25 AM

Joe, When I first started on my boxmaking journey I used a lot of wood flooring, When I got the ribs planed off the back and the finish sanded off the front, it turned out to be 5/8” thick. This seemed to’ fit’ most boxes that I made of various sizes so I pretty much stuck with 5/8 with a few exceptions dictated by the thickness I wound up with after resawing a particular board so as not to waste any.

Not very scientific, but that’s how I arrived at my thickness!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View waleedwaheed2013's profile


145 posts in 1850 days

#5 posted 05-05-2013 10:37 AM

Send my any photo or draw and I can do any size you needed I’ll Stay zoom in or out on a program Corel Draw or AutoCAD and I will send you a again

-- Waleed Waheed

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