What to do with all those patterns you get with magazines

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Blog entry by Allison posted 09-25-2008 11:11 PM 2308 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just posted this on my personal blog( so some of the wording may be strange but the content is the same) but kinda felt it was worth sharing with any of you that may find yourselves wondering what to do with all those paper patterns you get with magazines .
I subscribe to Google Alerts, for scrolling or Intarsia patterns; And I get them all the time. Today I saw one that caught my eye because it was called “keeping track of woodworking projects and plans” I have lived through this nightmare, and the writer of this article came up with something quite similar, however it gave me the idea to share mine.
First of all I am mainly writing about the plans you get with magazines. I am always writing about Creative Wood works & Crafts as my favorite wood working magazine (with patterns) and for the most part still is. Every 2 months you get a magazine and in the center are paper patterns for the projects, however inside the magazine is also the instructions, the type, the thickness of the wood suggested for the project, etc. So it is really nice if these items can always be together. It sounds easy but inevitably I end up looking for a pattern in a mag, I find the instructions for the pattern but now where is the pattern itself? Or worse I find the paper pattern but now “which magazine did this pattern come from?” so I can find or refresh my memory on the instructions. Because I have zillions of these pattern mags and books, I truly was going crazy trying to keep them all together, and I might add, I have tried several ways. I have come up with something that is simple and doable AND keeps your sanity.
When you get one of these mags, they always have a page, usually 2 that show the picture of the finished pattern along with the page # for the instructions. I always tear these out and place them face up, on the outside of the magazine on both the front and the back. I then slip them in a see through plastic sleeve that you can buy in any drug store, paper store etc. along with the magazine itself, and with the patterns all in the same sleeve. Then all those are placed into one of those heavy duty 3 ring binders. Now I have binders full of my patterns in order and by mag, (I will place one company’s into one binder etc.)
and all I have to do is open the binder and look at 2 pictures of each mag (What I have made into the front and back)in each sleeve and see right then what each mag has to offer. The instructions, the patterns, everything is inside the sleeve in one place. I do not have to open any of them to find anything, as it is all right there. I sure hope this helps anyone who has gone through this turmoil as I did. It’s funny how simplistic trying to keep all these in one place turned out to be. Plus having them in the plastic sleeves keeps them clean and all together so they don’t get all torn.

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

10 comments so far

View lew's profile


12863 posts in 4268 days

#1 posted 09-26-2008 01:17 AM


Thanks for the idea. I am currently trying to reorganize and this will help!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4534 days

#2 posted 09-26-2008 01:31 AM

I just toss em out.

I don need no steenking pattern! <g>


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Allison's profile


819 posts in 4311 days

#3 posted 09-26-2008 04:01 AM

WOW! That cut like a knife!

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 4192 days

#4 posted 09-26-2008 05:09 AM

I’m with you in this idea or three ring binders, Allison. I don’t use the original pattern, so they go into a plastic sleeve and binder with info on the issue. I recently (this week) got a wi-fi printer that scans to pdf files to save me time, and I’ll be putting these patters on my laptop and DVD/CD for additional backups. You do great work, and have great advice, thanks.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4328 days

#5 posted 09-26-2008 05:58 AM

I don’t keep patterns but I do keep pictures of designs that I like and since I draw way more than I build I have a big pile of graph paper and pictures in paper bound binders that I keep in a wall cabinet dedicated to that stuff in the shop (along with magazines and books).

I wonder what my heirs will think when they find them after I’m done.

I often wonder how the digital age will preserve our legacy. Digital photos are so easy to delete and CAD drawaings go away with the hard drive every few years.


-- Scott - Chico California

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

810 posts in 4421 days

#6 posted 09-26-2008 02:49 PM

I’m like Scott, I keep mostly the photos for future reference.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4501 days

#7 posted 09-26-2008 03:00 PM

I used to have a 4 foot stack of magazines. I have reduced it to 1 1/2”. Literally!

What I did was to go through them and take out the pages with something interesting and staple them together. 99% of the time no two atricles will be back to back due to advertisements.

I just group the results into projects, tools, and methods (tips).

It’s amazing just how much real content there actually is in a magazine.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View 1978's profile


167 posts in 4121 days

#8 posted 09-26-2008 03:22 PM

That is a great solution, I have been trying to come up with something myself. This sound really good.

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 4285 days

#9 posted 09-26-2008 06:59 PM

I purchased a bunch of unused pizza boxes from the local independent pizza place. They use plain white boxes.
i keep most of my patterns, research photos etc in them and I write on the edge of the box what is in them. I stack the boxes on an over head shelf. the boxes are study, stack well and are square so I can use all 4 edges for labeling before I have to tape them over. I also use these boxes for storing small pieces like wheels, caps, lights etc that I might use for the toys i make. I divide the interior of the pizza box into sections with smaller boxes that I make out of box board (cereal boxes that I disassembled) cut out on the scroll saw and hot glued together. it isn’t quite study enough to handle screws and hardware, but everything else seems to work well. The other great thing is thaty you can assemble and disassemble them as you need them so they take up almost no room when they are not needed

Most of my research comes from the internet, so I have a huge file of stuff saved as jpgs in a folder. If there is something I really like in a magazine or a pattern I have drawn then I scan it into the computer and save it in that folder. It is nice to be able to search for a word rather than leafing through pages. it is also nice to import the jpg into a program like publisher or paint where I can alter the size of hte piece to fit the wood that I have available. This way I print the pattern to fit the wood rather than find the wood that fits the pattern.

All this of course is assuming that I have actually taken the time to put the pattern away and that it isn’t sitting in heap of stuff on my bench.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4255 days

#10 posted 09-26-2008 07:07 PM

I can never find anything that is on paper. Seriously. If I can, I scan and pitch. (PDFs are easier for me to deal with and don’t take up any room.) A lot of magazines now have digital subscriptions, I actually prefer them. I can print (plot) at any size I want. (again, pitch it when I am done)

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

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