How do you build from plans?

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I've never done it. Do you just cut everything to size per the parts list and then assemble it? Is it usually worth it? Does everything usually fit together correctly?
I can see that for some things, it would be much easier to have plans. Do most of you follow the plan exactly or do you customize it, change things?
--
McQualude

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McQualude wrote:

You could be best off using the plans as a road map. First off make a copy of the cutting list (cut bill/stock bill) and isolate the major components. Start by checking the math on a few things like the major components. In the case of a cabinet these would be the sides, top, bottom and back. If it all works out cut and assemble them.
For trims I bill everything out long and cut to length based on the actual cabinet size as it was eventually built.

Yes. Until you can build it out of your head there's really no other way. Even when you get better you'll find that you'll have "plans" of some form or another.

No and sometimes yes. Wooddorking is a process of set ups, cutting and assembling. Let's say you're cutting tops and bottoms. These are usually the same length so you'll want to cut them at the same time with the same set ups. Let's say you're 1/32" off. No big deal. Now let's say you have five cabinets ganged together and each of them is 1/32" off. What you have is an accumulated error. Still no big deal unless you went and cut all your trims at one time to a size that wasn't 1/32" too big.

Yes.
UA100
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Unisaw A100 spaketh...

Actually I've built everything out of my head, but I have to stop and think a lot, nothing wrong with thinking, but I figure it slows me down. So I was thinking of trying some plans.

That's what I figured. That's one reason I've never used plans.
Building out of my head, I've always built from the outside - in. The dimensions just seem to fall into place that way.
Thanks for the input.
--
McQualude

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brocpuffs wrote:

I'm thinking of all the bird houses and whatnot I've cobbled together that have extra holes from where I drilled the holes into the wrong faces of the boards. The pieces would fit one way, but I drilled the holes as though I were going to attach them the other way. More than once even.
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pixelated:

Correct. ALL of us either follow the plan exactly or customize them and change things.
"Be the change you want to see in the world." --Mahatma Gandhi - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - http://diversify.com Website Application Programming
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Never let what someone has put to paper cloud your good judgment. You should build as you would without plans, substituting those on paper for the ones in your head. Cutting all pieces that need the same dimension with a single setup is fine - best way to go - but I check the fit and dimension before I make final cuts, and that's against the piece, not the plans.
The thing with woodworking is to make things fit, cabinets may also have to fit a gap, but even there they're made with parts that fit _them_ and fitted to the place with shims and moldings.

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my grandfather taught me something about plans and well here goes..
if yo have paper plans.buy some cardboard.or old boxes.and cut them to match the plans you have. when you are finished cutting out the plans.assemble them like you would the project,use soemthing that is not going to bond the cardboard together.push pins.tacks. or staples.when you have completed the project.you can see your errors without cutting the wood for it first.then make adjustments on the carboard.by glueing more cardboard where needed.. and now you have correct-to-size plans by useing the cardboard as plans,and store away those paper plans.
now you can cut your wood and it should turn out perfectly.
* just an idea*
Scott.
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I do this except I use 3D CAD modeling.

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You can buy a lot of cardboard for the price of CAD ;)
Seriously, I would like to try CAD at one point or another. All my plans are scratched onto a napkin or such. Are there any decent freeware or shareware CAD programs? I imagine the learning curve could be pretty steep for 3D modeling, but is it fairly simple for 2D plans?

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McQualude wrote:

So far, that's pretty much all I've done...follow the plans. Which is part of the reason I still consider myself a beginner.
I've built from plans in ShopNotes and WoodSmith...everything has fit perfectly (except when I don't follow the directions...).
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McQualude wrote:

I can't imagine trusting plans that much, personally. Oops, these measurements were off, and I just wasted some big $$$ wood.
I haven't ever done it, come to think of it. I've looked at published plans, have books of plans, but have never built anything from them. I usually build from a sketch, and make things up as I go along, cutting each part to fit. Plans for me are usually no more than vague inspiration.
But I'm not a real woodworker though. I've only built a couple of large pieces. I mostly knock together little things like bird houses and simple boxes.
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Depends on the plan. Those plans that are more akin to Blueprints (well thought-out, communicative, illustrative and fairly error-free) are quite nice for a newbie. Usually everything fits quite well.
Those "plans" that show up as part of a 2 page article in a Gardening magazine, usually require a lot of interpretation.
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tnfkajs spaketh...

LOL! I was reading through the plans for a sideboard from Popular Woodworking and the author warned not to go by the plans or cut list because he had make 'adjustments' along the way. I thought, hell, they might as well just printed more pictures!
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I consider the plans as a guide to the procedure and follow them step by step, double checking any measurements as I go, there are variables such as material thickness and what part of a line to cut that can affect the given dimensions that may get one into trouble. ThIs way you may not have it all glued together when you discover that you should have put in that other piece first. DAMHIK Frank C.
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In 1985 I built a 9-foot high break-arch corner china cabinet with a cockleshell insert. Parts of the plans had been published in Fine Woodworking. Detailed plans were published in a book called "Masterpiece Furniture Making".
I was amazed at the number of small errors that found their way into the plans.
Since then, I've mostly designed my own stuff and wouldn't think of starting a project without drawing a to-scale layout of the components. This is an enormous help in laying out the pieces for the most efficient recovery of the components from the smallest amount of material.
Several years ago, I built a pair of Queen Anne side chairs to fill in a set of 4 antiques that my wife acquired somewhere. In this case, since most of the parts making up the legs, sides and back were curved, I made full-scale templates from thin sheets of veneer.
Something you might want to check out is the idea of using "Story Sticks". This is particularly useful in measuring and cutting pieces for cabinetry or carcases. Fine Woodworking has an on-line index and articles on this can be pulled up

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I've noticed on DIY Wood Works, Dave Marks makes most of his curved pieces out of MDF first and the trims the parts to the template with a router. I never have tried it, but it sounds like a great idea, especially if you have to make multiple parts, or plan on making it again in the future.

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"McQualude" writes:

<snip>
I've been told I couldn't find my way to the head with a drawing.
There is some merit to that observation.<G>
Best investment you will ever make is an 8x8 graph paper pad.
Use it to make what I call "paper dolls".
Scale pieces of paper cut to size representing every piece on the cut list.
You can freehand the drawings on the graph paper, then cut accurately to size with a pair of scissors.
You would be amazed how easy it is to find mistakes in a set of plans.
HTH
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Lew

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Edwin Pawlowski spaketh...

Yeah, that seems to be the concensus. Plans seem to be a waste of time then. I've been working the dimensions out in my head, using plans wouldn't be any different.

That's really a pattern, which is a type of plan I suppose. My freehand drawing sucks also.
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wrote:

Have to agree on that one, I am adequate when it comes to 3d work, but a total novice with wood. I did my first "project" as you described, and it actually worked out as I had intended. I got two doors about identical to cover a hole in the wall where a plumber HAD to have access, regardless of anyone else's view on the desirability of it all!
OK, I'll grant you I had some luck too; I spec'ed a certain bit of cross batten was to be 93mm in length and sure enough it was when I finished. However I also got carried away with the brand new circular saw, and I got lucky in that the first one was fine, but then common sense reigned/dawned/tapped_me_on_the_shoulder and I cut the second set using my old hand mitre cheapy.
I'd got keenitis, I had all but forgotten that a new tool does not HAVE to be Tool Choice Of The Week! ;O) I got really lucky there! Can't imagine I'd have made number two door exactly the same size with a circular which I'd only used for exactly 5 cuts before!
And before anyone tries to be helpful (!) Of course I had not cut out all the stuff for the pair out at the same time, I'm a Gnube right, I got a fine tradition of being a newbie to uphold here, can't go doing repeatable stuff yet, has to be avoided at all costs for the first year at least, it's in the rules!! ;O)
Anyways, if CAD got me there, it can get /anyone/ there! ;O)
Take Care, Gnube I don't want to win the lottery I just want to win a barn full of seasoned timber! ;O)
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 05:07:01 GMT, CW wrote:

I use 2D CAD (AutoCAD LT) to draw & dimension plans but then I studied engineering and am familiar with draughting and concepts such as projections & I find I can visualise an object from a 3rd angle projection or whatever. A book on engineering drawing practice is recommended if you take this approach and I'd recommend reading BS308 (or ISO equivalent).
CAD allows you to quickly change dimensions and iterate until you have got something that you are happy with.
I may do several drawings and plots depending on how critical the dimensions are and how complicated the resulting piece is going to be. For example, I did about 12 drawings for a built-in desk that I made, but then the dimensions were fairly critical and I had to get it right if I wasn't going to waste a lot of time building and possibly a lot of timber in the process.
I then pin the plots above my bench and work to them. If you're going to use CAD then you either want get yourself a >= A3 plotter or send the file(s) to a place that will plot out your drawings for you.
I've found that as I've gained experience with woodworking, I no longer have to plot and plan every little thing - it's in my head.
I recently bought a plan for a folding Adirondack chair - it cost me a fiver as opposed to possibly spending several hours drawing it myself. As I was building more than one of them I cut out the the components from the printed plan and glued them to some thin ply, drilled holes in all of them, so that I can thread a bit of string through them and hang them up on the workshop wall when they are not in use. This also of course means that your plan doesn't wear out and fall to bits after having done just a few chairs.
--

Frank


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