Woodworking Plans - What's Good? - What's Bad?

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Forum topic by Jack Barnhill posted 05-08-2009 10:58 PM 1507 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3395 days

05-08-2009 10:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plans marketing drawings

I’ve never really built anything from a plan and have never bought a plan but, I have had a few requests for a plan of one of my projects. So I was wondering if I could get some input.

Where do you most likely find good plans?
Whose plans should I avoid?
What is good or bad about them?
For those who do build from plans, do you prefer a lot of detail (if so, how much and what?) or do you just prefer shop drawings?
What type of projects do you prefer to use plans for?

Has anyone marketed or, tried to market, woodworking plans?
How did you go about marketing them?
How successful were you?
What problems did you run into?

Any other relative comments would be appreciated as well. Thanks to everyone in advance.


-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

6 replies so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3555 days

#1 posted 05-08-2009 11:36 PM

The internet has thousands of plans both for sale and for free from indivisuals to larger companies. There are books of plans, magazines and video/dvd’s of plans. For yourself, if you have drawn out plans for your projects, you could maybe publish them as a set on demand or something like that. You have very hard questions!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3395 days

#2 posted 05-09-2009 05:02 PM

KM – Thanks for the suggestions. I have looked at the plans available online but, have never bought any. The free plans tend to be mostly just shop drawings. I don’t know how this compares to the content of the plans for sale or what most woodworkers who build from plans would prefer as far as level of detail and instruction goes.

I’m hoping to get some feedback and arrive at a consensus so that, if I go to the effort, I do it right the first time.

Thanks again,

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#3 posted 05-09-2009 06:46 PM

Hey Jack
There are plans and there are plans. Some plans have a very nice appearance to the finished project ,but lack in acceptable Joinery. I teach a beginning wood working class for adults at my local community collage and the plans some of the students bring in are terrible. The most recent one is a display cabinet 7ft tall and 2ft by 2ft with glass on all four side and the joinery on the corners was finish nails and glue, WRONG. When new to woodworking I suggest making you own plans, if that’s beyond your capabilities at least obtain your plans from people who know woodworking such as Finewood working, or Wood , or other Magazines that specialize in woodworking . Don’t buy plan books from the stores or off the shelf plans unless there published by one of these reputable woodworking magazines. Unless I’m duplicating a customers project or asked to work from a plan I make my own plan. I just make a drawing and add dimensions to it or you can take a photo and do the same. I call it suppose design. If say you want a side table and you like the design you’ve seen in a book or magazine. Just make a copy of it and add dimensions to it height,width, length .This is were the suppose part comes in suppose it’s this high and this wide or measure heights and withs of other furniture close in scale to what you thinking of. If this is a project that for some particular use Like a CD cabinet for example you have to take in account how many will fit up and down and depth an of course that the CDs will fit with room to spare. After you have your dimensions then you have to determine the joinery,whats strong enough and looks best . This takes a little investigation if your new. The next step is to make a full scale drawing of your project. From your drawing you can determine angles and make corrections if you find somethings not working out. If your making a simple project you might just go for it an use the dimensions you put on the photo you copied. If your making what you consider an important piece you may just build a practise piece out of inexpensive wood. This way you can make mistakes on the practise piece first. Hope this helps.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3510 days

#4 posted 05-09-2009 07:54 PM

The amount of detail I think would come down to who exactly you’re marketing these plans to, beginners with very little or no shop experience and knowledge, novices with comfortable knowledge of tools and general knowledge of joinery, experienced wood workers, or professionals. Most pros I know can work from a real basic sketch and have all the freedom to embellish the original concept, where someone with little or no experience will need more step by step instructions with lots of detail in the drawing. For drawings you might be making up I say try and find a happy medium. I wish I could loan you a set of plans I have to give you an idea. Check out these plans from Jet Tools ( Might give you an idea on what info to put in your drawings. Good luck, I hope it works out for you.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 05-10-2009 05:32 PM

Well, all I can say is I just got some plans from, and I am extremely disappointed with them. It’s more like a poorly written article than a set of plans. Yes, it has a cutting grid for the boards, but the instructions are bass ackwards, and talks about joiner on th last couple pages, and assembly on the first! Pain in the butt!

I doubt I’ll ever pay for plans from again.


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3395 days

#6 posted 05-10-2009 10:57 PM

Thanks guys! All good information. I’ll you know when I have the plan completed.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

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