Latest Project, and my thoughts on furniture design

I finished up the web site details on my latest project: a slightly embelished, Mission-Style Entertainment Center/Curio Cabinet. Here it is if you are interested: http://www.the-wildings.com/shop/current /
One of my complaintes about woodworking, or I guess woodworkers specifically, is that too many people are way too dependent on plans. Don't interpret this the wrong way. I think plans are a great learning tool in woodworking. I have built several things from plans in the past and I often study plans intently to get design and construction ideas, and then apply these to different projects. I also sell plans. However, there are certain times when you need to build something that has dimensions or a layout that plans just don't exist for. Unfortunately, I think getting too dependent on plans tends to stifle ones creativity.
I have decided to try to help people by putting more details on the design of our projects on my website. I started this a few years back with a detailed description of the rocking chair we designed (http://the-wildings.com/shop/furniture/rocker /), but haven't provided much detail since. I am going to try to put more effort into this as I develop new projects going forward.
On this current project, I discuss some of the contraints and the thought process we went through during the design phase. I also show some of the jigs we developed to do the automated carvings. I haven't spent too much time discussing routine stuff, like edging plywood, etc. If people find this more basic stuff useful, I can focus more on that in the future as well.
So, if you are a relatively new woodworker that tends to work mostly from plans, I challenge you to try your hand at design. It is not all that difficult, and for me at least, it is kind of fun. The satisfaction you get when the piece is complete is even more as well.And if you have tried it and things didn't turn out quite as well as you like, then keep trying. Design ability, like all things in woodworking, gets better with practice.
I'd be interested in other people's thoughts. Also feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the project, or want any further details.
Joe in Denver My Woodworking Website: www.the-wildings.com/shop/
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Lovely piece, Joe.
Although I am a complete rookie at woodworking, I envision a lot of projects or modifications to projects in my head and then execute them, with greater or lesser success depending on how I hold my tongue; however, the key advantage I see to plans is that they provide a common foundation for communicating fundamental ideas to others. Whether I follow a plan or no, at least I understand the intention of the original designer when I see it, and am occasionally educated about a hidden aspect of a design I might not have considered.
Now, ask me how often I faithfully follow a recipe in the kitchen? Or how often I write one down when I'm being creative?
Cheers,
David
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Beauty of a project.
I guess I am fairly new to woodworking (At least I am definitely new to "fine" woodworking). I just finished my first really nice nightstand and I am working on a second one to match. Here are my thoughts on plans verses design. I am doing bedroom furniture based on plans from a woodsmith book. I followed the plan closely on the first one and got into some trouble as not all cuts are exactly perfect every time. So on the second one I have followed the plan loosely and followed the actual project dimensions very closely. This seems to work much better. I am also in the process of helping a friend build a winerack/sideboard. This design is completely from my head to paper. I am really glad that I have done the woodsmith based projects as they introduced me to techniques and design ideas that I really needed to know in order to make a good and stable design for my friend.
So... I think that every woodworker should spend time looking at plans. Even if they don't build the thing. I think plans are a very effective medium to share and learn ideas about design and style. I also think that for inexperienced (I came from a background of a lot of "not-fine" woodworking) woodworker plans help to solidify techniques, hone skills and understand common mistakes in a somewhat sheltered environment. At least this was true of the fine and very detailed plans from woodsmith (in my mind the best beginner-intermediate woodworking mag). This in mind I think that eventually a hobby woodworker will become bored with the reproduction of someone else's work. We hobbyist woodwork because we like doing it, something that I think is rooted in creativity not expressed at our "real" jobs. Thus eventually it must come from us. W
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Nice site. I really like how you show pieces from which the design elements were inspired.

I'm with you 100%. I have never built anything from a published plan. But that does not mean that published plans are not a very appropriate way of communicating how a project goes together. Just as you gathered inspiration from other pieces, a plan can be an effective way to communicate a design technique.
On the other hand, I think some people just want to build and either don't get, or can't get the design/creativity aspect of woodworking. If that makes them happy, well good for them.
-s
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