Early Furniture Desgning

Yesterday I notice the bookcase I'd made n high school. Dusty, but just as solid as the day it was finished. I guess you could say this is a tale of how it was done. This has strung out longer than I had figured on, so I'm sure some of you will want to skip this. No prob.
This was isn '53 or '54, not sure which the new school was finished. So I was probably 13 at the time, just starting the 9th grade. Befoe then the only power tool we'd been allowed to operate was the belt/disc sander. The one with grit about the size of road gravel. It did a very nce job of taking the tip of one finger off while I was flat sanding a piece of wood. You can bet I've never pulled that stunt since.
The teacher was new too, very experienced you could tell, he had part of one hand missing. He showed us how to use the table saw, demonstrated what kickback was, none of us had kickback while I was tere, and I've never had once since. He also showed us how to use the metal lathe, milliing machine (both huge commercial models), wood lathe, huge bansaw, gas and arc welders. We'd already learned forging a year or two before.
This was when he also taught us about draftng and design. Drafting is like many things, easy and fast to learn, and years to really becme skilled. But he did a great job of teaching us basics, perspectives, scale, and all the really imporant technical detais, or at least a working knowldge of them - T-square, triangles, French curve, the whole nine yards. None of this of all the class finishing at the saee time either, you didn't get one part of it, you were held back and he made sure you got it, while the rest of us moved on to the next step.
The next step was deciding on something we would like to make, drafting a complete set of plans for it, and making it. I decided on a bookcase for my room. One guy turned a baseball bad, out of walnut as I recall.
Turned out pretty darn nice really. Just over 10" deep, 25" wide, and 24" tall. One shelf in the middle, and the bottom divided in two. The back is boards dowelled together. All solid cherry, held together with dowels (unknown wood, all the holes drilled with a brace, bit, and dowel jig), and glue, no nails anywhere in it. The finish appears to be some brand of varnish, and it's held up nicely. Wipe the dust and grime off of it, and it'll be just as nice as when it was made.
I drafted plans for my stuff for a good while. Then evolved into sketches. Then on to rough sketches. Now most of my designs are just in my mind, about all I put to paper are measurements on occassion, and very rarely a rouh sketch or two. Some of te stuff I make is pretty simple. Some not. For some time now I'e been workig out designs for a bed fo myself, and a coffee table. The bed design is about worked out except for a few technical details about the back legs. The coffee table is also about sorted out, ecept for one item. So far nothing on either one is cmmitted to paper. Once I get the final details worked out, probably the only things then that will go to paper will be some measurements. It's just more fun that way. It probably helps that I visualize these thigs, which I'm told a lot of people can't do - I dont really accept that, I think people just don't try to do it.
If I hadn't started out with drafting at such an early age I don't think I could design thing now. Or at least not as well, or as confidently.
Plans are always good when you're starting out, even plans you've done. Then you can gain confidence and not rely so heavily on them, or even have the confidence to alter them to suit yourself. Or do without them all togethr.
But, there's a few people out there entirely competent and talented enough to work with no plans at all, and make jus about anything - but prefer to work from complete plans on paper, whether they're someone else's plans or their own.
I always like plans, because they often give me ideas about something I've never ran across before - no need to reinvent the wheel if you don't ned to, unless it's fun doing it.
JOAT What is life without challenge and a constant stream of new humiliations? - Peter Egan
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote in 3331.bay.webtv.net:
<snip of one of JT's stories about shop experiences>

I write down the plans with the numbers, so I don't forget them. Getting to the next phase in the shop will certainly come after a bunch of the rest of life has gotten in the way of another creative work of art. It's a challenge, because patience is something that I've had to learn just a little bit of.
Thanks for the insight into how your thought processes work. Helps me understand things, they way they work for some folks. Even if it differs somewhat from my own experience.
Patriarch
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Sat, May 5, 2007, 1:45pm (EDT-1) snipped-for-privacy@nospam.comcast.net (Patriarch) doth sayeth: I write down the plans with the numbers, so I don't forget them. <snip>. Even if it differs somewhat from my own experience.
Well, as so much is kept in my mind, sometimes I don't write down numbers at al, just hold a piece of wood in place, mark it, cut it, fit it in, repeat. Depends on what I'm making. Sometimes it's measure, write te numbers down on a piece of scrap, and go from there. Other times, I get everything figured out, then write the numbers down, with, or without, a rough sketch. That's probably how I'll do with the bed, when it gets that far. If something needs multiple duplicate parts I'll probably make a master piece and use it to rout out the pieces, that usually works well. Sometimes after i've made something, I probably couldn't duplicate it, even if I wanted to. My latest router table looks good, works great, and to make another like it would probably take longer to figure out 'how' I made it, then it would to make another. Sometimes when I'm working on something like that my mind just kinda kicks into neutral and doesn't consciously absorb how I'm making whatever.
The way I do things usually works out well. For me. Everyone has different experiences, because of different backgrounds. Growing up when and where I did, then 20+ years n the Army, and some of the assignments I had, contributed a whole lot. Not having a lot of money to toss around most of my life did too. Still don't for that matter. LOL But, life is basically good.
JOAT What is life without challenge and a constant stream of new humiliations? - Peter Egan
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On Sat, 5 May 2007 12:38:53 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

It's definitely something that some people can do and others cannot. I look at a chair and my details are the 3D wire-frame construction. My wife's details are the fabric pattern and the stitching.
John

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Sat, May 5, 2007, 4:46pm snipped-for-privacy@sig.net (John) doth sayeth: It's definitely something that some people can do and others cannot. I look at a chair and my details are the 3D wire-frame construction. My wife's details are the fabric pattern and the stitching.
Yep. I can visualize in color, and I've been told must people can't do that.
3=D wire frame? Not sure what you mean by that, but I visualize in solid wood. And I tend toward pads and cushions for chairs - easier to toss and replace one of them than to repair.
JOAT What is life without challenge and a constant stream of new humiliations? - Peter Egan
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