Building Without Plans

Fine Rough Wood Furniture Pictures

BY CRAIG VANDALL STEVENS

Most 01 us wiio work with wood began by making at least some things from plans. I was no exception. But working from plans can begin to feel restrictive. At some point we all wonder, "What if] designed it myself?"

Making a standing screen presents a wonderful chance to explore the design aspect of woodworking. With its straight lines and straightforward joinery, a screen presents a minimum of construction challenges, opening the way for thoughts of design. The length of the project usually can be measured in days rather than in weeks, and that can reduce the pressure ofworking with your own design. Still, although i've chosen to illustrate the process of design by following the development of a standing screen, the techniques 1 outline in this article apply not just to screens but also to any type of furniture. Ifyou take the leap into designing your own work, 1 think you'll sec-it's a very rewarding process.

Rough Sketching Is Fine

I develop furniture ideas by sketching. I lend to make small sketches and make them quickly, especially early in the design process.

Furniture Design Development Sketches

I don't want to get hung up on a lot of detail early on, when I'm trying to establish the overall form of a piece, finding attractive proportions is one of the most challenging aspects of designing furniture, and sketching quickly enables ine to explore proportions effectively. 1 don't think you need to be talented at drawing to design good furniture, and drawing small and quickly reduces the artistic burden.

I have a number of sketchbooks, large ones that I use hi the shop and small ones that go on the road. I typically use a soft pencil, but in a pinch I'll use anything handy. I have a 9mni mechanical pencil that makes clean lines and doesn't arouse suspicion at church in my choir folder. I also have some fat drawing pencils that are great for putting the first idea for a piece down on paper.The line they leave is wide enough that I'm not tempted to draw a lot of detail, just shapes and proportions. Whatever pencil I use, 1 resist the temptation to erase—I just live with errant lines 01 work them into the drawing.The main idea is to get some ideas down, not to make the drawing perfect. If you can't keep your fin gets off the eraser, try drawing with ink.

When one of these sketches strikes an idea I like, I usually draw a number of variations of it. I'll often sketch out half a dozen or more takes 011 it 111 a sketchbook or 011 a large sheet of paper. Then I choose the one I like best and refine it further. I often use tracing paper to duplicate the basic shape of the piece a number of times, and then I sketch 111 variations 011 the details. Aside from saving time, tracing ensures that the part of the original drawing I like--the overall proportions, say—remains constant while I play with various details I'm less certain about.

Homemade Scale Provides Dimensions

The freehand concept drawings I've described are a great way to arrive at shapes and proportions you find pleasing. Bui if

TRACING REFINES THE SKETCH Once he's picked a drawing he likes, the author uses tracing paper to refine some details. Here, he traced the proportions of the frame but experimented with different ways of dividing the panels.

THE PROPER PROPORTIONS Early on, while he's searching for an overall shape he likes, the author draws quickly, placing a handful of drawings on a page to make comparing them easier.

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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Responses

  • AFWERKI
    How do i sketch a piece of furniture with detail in interior design?
    3 years ago

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