Set designs or own designs

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Forum topic by woodworkingdrew posted 06-18-2014 10:07 PM 1009 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 1633 days

06-18-2014 10:07 PM

I have watched many episodes of norm abrahm and other professional carpenters/woodworkers. When designing furniture pieces, cabinets, or shelving units/bookcases are there set traditional ways/methods to build these pieces or can you design them yourself and use any joinery method you want. For example, to tile a shower you would first do insulation, vapor barrier/waterproofer, concrete board, morter then tile. But does building a piece have a certain pattern or way it should be made or do people free design and make there own pieces by design. Sorry if this is confusing, I know what I want to say I think its just hard shelling it out on here. Thanks

-- Andrew, California

5 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 days

#1 posted 06-18-2014 10:16 PM

I have never used a pre-made design, although a lot of wood woorkers do. I may look at a few and get an idea of what I want to do, but, I always use the final design in my noggin.
It’s just my way.

Your mileage may vary, objects under the Tee-shirt are larger than they appear, No baby seals are used in our alcoholic drinks at any time.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View AandCstyle's profile


3070 posts in 2281 days

#2 posted 06-18-2014 11:42 PM

Andrew, if I have never made a particular piece previously, I tend to use plans and will follow them more or less depending on the complexity of the project, e.g. I followed the plans for the Rodel chairs very closely. Now that I have completed those, I wouldn’t bother with chair plans again.

Joinery can be accomplished many ways and is often at the builder’s discretion unless you are making period pieces and want to be true to the originals. However, you need to be aware of any particular issues that tend to dictate preferred joinery methods. Dovetails are preferred for large drawers due to the physical strength of the dovetail, but on a small drawer use whatever you like.

Hopefully, this helps to answer your question(s).

-- Art

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#3 posted 06-19-2014 12:03 AM

Joinery is a fascinating aspect of woodworking. Don’t get
hung up on it though. You can learn all you need to know
by reading one good book on the topic.

For fine chairs, it’s got to be mortise and tenon or sliding
dovetail. That’s because chairs have to be both reasonable
in weight and take a lot of racking. For most work, considering
the awesomeness of modern glues, joinery options
are flexible. I think dowels are great – they are cheap
to buy and all you need is a jig and a drill. Plus they
allow exquisite precision in aligning parts.

Everything I build is custom from a supplied drawing from
a client or designed by me.

If you want to build up your confidence, make practice
pieces and practice joints out of cheap wood. I learned
to dovetail by cutting one dovetail every morning for
a few weeks. I’m not very good at designing on paper
but when I make mockups I can really get a feel for
what the aesthetic and ergonomic problems will be and
make adjustments. Mockups are a pain, but if you
go to the trouble you’ll make much more satisfying
final pieces out of your expensive lumber.

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3267 days

#4 posted 06-20-2014 05:23 PM

Designing a piece is a matter of what looks good to your eye. You can look at plans for ideas, but the final judgement is yours alone. It’s the same as cooking. You cook what tastes good to you, not what tastes good to someone else.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2394 days

#5 posted 06-20-2014 05:30 PM

I’ve designed some of my own work, and also built from plans. Doing my own design gives me more pride, however working from a good set of plans makes things go faster/smoother.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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