loosey goosey - on topic


Hello - Just something I have been wondering about.
When you are making a custom piece, from your own plans or from your head. How tight do you stick to the design? Do you let the wood dictate the design as you go? Do you let mistakes, er ah, unintentional changes, drive the design?
My current project, a sofa table, started as a set of plans drawn by me. Some of the design elements were taken from some store bought furniture. I have several examples of how either the wood has changed the design or how some other factor (My 'mistake') has slightly changed the intended design.
first - the drawer side thickness (see my other post). My intention was for 1/2" sides to my drawers. Well, due to less than optimal usage of the wood I am left up with just enough to make 3/8" sides versus the intended 1/2" sides. Will probably be just fine, and maybe preferable.
Second - The original project was to be all cherry. SWMBO went with me to the supplier, me, plans in hand, to pick out the wood. She saw this stuff called lacewood. She wanted the top to have a center field of lacewood and, while I'm at it, lets do the drawer fronts in lacewood as well. This is a case where the wood has driven the design.
third - When making the top I did a bit of bad math. Not sure where I goofed exactly. The top was to be made up of qty5 boards (3 lacewood in middle and 2 cherry, one or each side) The cherry 'frame' was to be 2 1/2" and the field was to be wide enough to make the total width 16". Cherry breadboard ends. This configuration was driven partly due to the available width of the lacewood. Well to make a long story short, the top was supposed to be 16" and ended up being 15" something. No big deal. I'll just have to adjust the aprons a bit and also the drawer sizes a bit, etc.
4th - well, I was going to write about using certain pieces in certain places because of grain, figure, etc. but that's kind of obvious I suppose. Again, the wood dictating the design (Which caused me to run short, see my 'first' comment)
So, this project sort of evolves based upon my skills (or lack of) and is also guided by the wood itself.
Is this typical or do you stick had and fast to plans?
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"No" wrote in message

For probably most of woodworking history, the size of the edge on your tools, and dimensions of the available wood, drove design ... probably more than most realize.
So no, your experience is not unusual. Most wooddorkers have the experience of having to design their way out of a corner.
That said, it sounds like you could plan better than you did on this project.
A great part of the success and satisfaction of designing and building your own pieces, as you imagined them to be, comes from executing a well thought out plan.
Planning, if nothing else, saves time and material. Both essential to those who have to justify doing it in the first place, either for their own consumption, or as a source of income.
--
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Last update: 11/06/05
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No wrote:

Plans? <G>
Just GO with it!
Some examples of situations where exact measurements might be needed:
- A cabinet that needs to be installed in between identical sisters. - Interchangeable parts (very rare outside of a production shop). - Parts that need to fit the work of others, like a gun stock, architectural detail, or auto dashboard inlay.
Furniture is often hand fitted. For example, I usually purposely machine my tenons slightly (1/32->1/16")oversize, then quickly fine tune the fit with hand tools. A table designed as a 30" circle will hardly suffer if it ends up @ 29 1/2", because you botched shaping the edge the first time.
Unless the client is an Ooopa-Loompa, a 24" high dining surface may be a tad hard to pass off... <G>
There's no reason to fess up to minor tweaks, either. If it looks good, accept the complements. Chances are the viewer has no idea what _your_ creation was "supposed" to look like.
Barry
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No wrote: A long and revealing description of every ah . . . improvement of the original design

How embarassing for you to put something like that in print. Of course I stick hard and fast to plans. It's just that my plans are ah "flexible" so that if I see a better way, then I make new plans. Most of the changes to the plans never make it to the paper, they just naturally occur in the shop as a result of ah "opportunities" which often accompany putting a machine in motion without the mind in gear. But, unlike you, I feel no guilt about these changes nor do I need to confess them to anyone else. However it turns out, that's exactly how I meant for it to be. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Now, find some other sin you can confess to ease your conscience before you expose our dirty little secret to the whole world.
DonkeyHody "I'd rather expect the best of people and be wrong than expect the worst and be right."
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The real fun thing is trying to explain to your customer how the changes you did totally improve on the design, fit and function of the peice that they paid for :)
Either that or you have a new peice in your showroom to display :)

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Heck no. I'm building a bed featured in woodworkers journal a few years ago (2001?). It has laminated arches on the foot and headboards. The article calls for a 6 1/8" finished width, IIRC. Since my jointer is only 6" wide, I cut the rough sawn lumber to that wide (after jointing one edge), ran one face through the jointer, resawed on the BS, planed the other face, then used the TS to cut to a final width, then laminated into an arch. They are about 5.5" wide. I just need to be careful about chamfering the bottom edge when the time comes so its still wider than the 4"x4" posts.
I'm also trying to use up more of my oak planks instead of using oak ply where they used ply in the article. I don't think I'll have this finished by xmas as I intended!
John
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John T wrote:

Xmas comes around every year so far. At least that's what I've been telling people:-) Joe who specifies dates on occasions, never years
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Perfect - be flexible to take advantage of opportunities!!! Every detail is part of the intended design.
her - "Honey, why did you use that giant nail to hold on that table leg?" Me - "Its part of the design, I had an opportunity happen and I needed to be flexible" Translation - I drank too much and got pissed off when my mortise was too loose and in a fit of rage I figured a 16d nail would hold it together!
ha ha

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No wrote:

Exactly...
If the nail is rusty (even better!), make sure to use plenty of "artist's angst" while explaining.
Barry
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If I'm building for myself my design is not carved in stone. My plan starts with a drawing and a material and cut list. I might make changes though as things progress. I might think something will look good on paper but when putting it together I might change my ideas about a detail.
If I'm building for a customer, I stick pretty close to the design whether they have provided a drawing or I have given them one. Any changes that need to be made will be discussed prior to building. If I disagree with structural details of a design I'll make my point but not too vigorously. Most customers can understand why one method might be better structuraly than another. As far as design details, I leave that to the customer.
Mike O.
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I frequently don't even know quite what I am making when I start. Of course, I run into trouble that way, but it is usually fun trying to get out of it.
Thats the way I used to write computer programs; I would draw up the flow chart when I was done because people expected to see them. Okay, it probably also the reason I stopped writing computer programs.
About 10 years ago I was building a treehouse out of somebody's old deck wood I found in the street. My niece was taking shop and wanted to help me. She asked to see the plans. Plans? I didn't even know what I was building, let alone have plans; I just decided where the next piece of wood should go one at a time. She said the shop teacher said you always have to have plans. Oh well. It turned into a beauty, 2 stories with ladders and hatches. And, its still sound.
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Toller,
You sound like my long lost brother! Computer programmer and all.... lmao!
Bryan
Toller wrote:

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