Say i make an end table with a top 26 x 16 (golden). And it's 24" tall.
How can the legs outer perimeter come close to golden when their outer
width is about 23" and they NEED to be about 23" high. according to the
formula, they could only be about 14 inches! I know this need not be
EXACT, but that's not in the ballpark. BTW, the legs will be approx 2
1/4" square. What am I missing about conforming to pleasing proportions?
There's an article in the most recent Fine Woodworking about the
Golden Rectangle. One of the points made in the article was that it's
impossilbe to design a piece of furniture in complete conformity with
Try adding stretchers that leave 14" space between them and the top.
Also, remember that the GR doesn't HAVE to be in landmark orientation;
it can be in portrait orientation, too. Does that work with your
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
In defense of Graham Blackburn, the author of the article in question,
he's fairly well credentialed - a prolific author
an extremely proficient neander, a pretty good teacher, engrossed in
solid wood furniture making and fascinated by form and function - be
furniture, architecture or, I suspect, the female form, which includes
many golden ratios BTW. And he draws most of the illustrations in his
To be a little sexist, Mother Nature has had a lot of time to come up
with forms and proportions that work, and work well.(also stated as
God don't make junk - but Ikea on the other hand...). Understanding
the underlying principles of Her/His "designs" seems to be why we're
here (see Bucky Fuller's Operation Manual, Space Ship Earth) - to
figure out how and why things work and then use that knowledge to
make the place a little nicer, or at least no worse, than we found
it. The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Series and Fractals are just some
of the insights humans have come up with for much of what forms
occur in our universe. They're elegantly simple - a forte of "nature"
and, to me, fascinating. When you can boil something that appears
to be random and chaotic down to something clean and concise -
E = mc^2, you've got a handle on understanding and using "nature's"
approach to things.
Given the infinite range of height/width/depth relationships, why not
use some relationships that have been codified as at least a starting
point when you have no constraints in a design?
(for the vocabulary builders - extant means old but still around
as opposed to extinct - old and gone)
e = mc^2 is far from clean - it's simply the expression of
proportionality between our arbitrary human units for mass and a
universe that really considers energy to be the important quantity.
e^( i * pi ) = -1
Now _that's_ pretty.
I didn't read this article too closely, because I already got the
presentation live. I don't know if he covered this in the article, but in
his presentation, he clearly made the point that it's not the golden
rectangle or any other specific rule that makes a design good. The real key
to a good design is having a reason for each and every dimension (stomp,
stomp, stomp). Applying the golden rectangle, where it's appropriate, has
been demonstrated to result in well proportioned designs that are pleasing
to the eye. But the idea is not to slavishly follow this rule.
Now... the quiz: What is the key to a good design?
The key to good design is in the eye of the beholder. If you look at enough
pieces of whatever you are designing either in the flesh or pictures of
superbe pieces then the brain will decide what pleases it. Another example
is the common bow front chest, produced for the last couple of centuries
and still to this day just as popular as the first day it was built, why
,because it is not only a functional, but a pleasing design to most of us.
A simple example in my case is a table with a tapered leg ,legs tapered on
the inside and outside look clumsey whereas legs tapered on the inside only
have a much more light and airy look .....after a while you look at pieces
and some uplift the sensibilities whereas others jarr them .
In the case of furniture, design is one aspect .to end up with something
good the design has to be good and be functional, the construction must be
good and the finish also. mjh
Good design in my opinion
Well said ... I have one table, out of the dozens that I have built, that
pleases me whenever I look at it.
It is simply a "table", as simple in its design as to be just past a board
placed on top of legs, but it has a graceful inside taper on the legs from
the bottom of the apron to the floor.
The best word to describe it is "elegant" ... as if a thousand lines of
computer code were distilled into three, still performing the same function.
It is not math, nor science, but art that this is made of.
"Once you have truly understood - trees are once again trees, streams
are once again streams - and, sometimes - a cigar is just a cigar."
thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
(Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet)
Geoff, in the most simple terms I can use, I'm trying to determine if by
using the golden ratio for the table top and given the fact that the
height of the table must be 24", how can the legs conform to the rules?
I'm missing some basic concept regarding the application of the golden
Geoff Clark wrote:
In this case, the chicken existed before the egg. The golden ratio
exists as an ex post facto attempt at quantification regarding the
pleasing nature of the form.
You are trying to put the formula prior to the eye. The a priori
value is in the look - a posteriori justification is a concept that
can exist as a codified check against the existant but can not
determine its form prior to its existance.
In a previous post I asked you to look into the drawings of people
such as Palladio, so that you might gain an inkling as to that which
is pleasing to our enculturated eye. You rejected that approach. Now
you are asking for a formulaic understanding of what is pleasing.
I would encourage you to go back to the Orders of Architecture, so
that you can absorb that which is best in Western thought about the
relationship of forms.
Look up Fibonacci Numbers. Look up The Golden Mean.
Better yet, since it is more visually organic, look at the buildings
that please your eye. In my case this would include Classical,
Neo-Classical, Federal and Georgian structures. Once you have come
to a conclusion as to what you like, research the mathematical design
underpinnings of those structures - trust me - they are there.
The values and relationships are not absolute. We are not
mathematicians. We are not Aristotelians. We are Platonists in
search of an Aristotelian shorthand to further our communication and
the prediction of aesthetic acceptance - not excellence, since that is
A danger of the misapplication of the Golden Mean is that it can work
well in two dimensions but not in the X axis. You can draw a nearly
perfectly realized design that includes Golden Rectangles within a
Golden Rectangle, and still have a beast of gross propertions when it
is extruded into the 3D world that we are all forced to live in.
Furniture is sculpture. It must exist in three dimensions. The
Golden Mean does not allow for mass - and mass is critical in
Engage and educate your eye. Find that which pleases you and then try
to come to an understanding of what makes that possible.
It doesn't work the other way around.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
(Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet)
In your inimitable style, I can say that you've answered the question,
Tom. The key is the x-axis issue and 3d. To paraphrase your post:
using the golden ratio for a table top precludes using the same rule for
placement and size of the legs when the height cannot for practical
purposes be changed. If that's not what you intended feel free to
correct me. (You used a couple of words that flummoxed me, but I got
the gist of your ideas. Thanks!)
Tom Watson wrote:
I couldn't agree more with your post (the bits I understood anyway!). I had
a discussion with Paully Rad on this topic and he started me off on the
search for the holy grail ^H^H^H^H^H Golden Mean and Fibonacci Numbers.
Whilst I found some good sources, and enjoyed the journey through a few
hundred websites, I did not come across what *I* would call a 'definitive'
Probably the most valuable research I did was into columns (amazing where
these things pop up). Do you know of any comprehensive books on the subject?
I have not yet been able to obtain Joyce's work:
Joyce, Ernest. The Encyclopedia of Furniture Making ISBN 0806964413
"Tom Watson" wrote...
brought forth from the murky depths:
Poor Grogs cain't foind no copy o':
Wail, we's help him.
It's available from Amazon.com who charges $6.99USD to ship
all the way Down Unda.
Used for $4.00, maybe he'll ship to AU.
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
http://www.biblioz.com/main.php can get them from here in the
States for $29-90. (out of print, seekbooks.com.au
http://www.collinsbooks.com.au/ and http://www.angusrobertson.com.au /
both have it for $47.41AU
Try some other sources:
Dymocks doesn't have it.
(Yes, I have too much time on my hands this morning whilst
waiting for a client to call back.)
Proud (occasional) maker of Hungarian Paper Towels.
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