I am starting a New Revolution #1: What do I mean?

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Blog entry by therookie posted 03-05-2011 05:15 AM 1098 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of I am starting a New Revolution series no next part

Has anyone else out there notice that you can look at almost all of the projects on this website and see that you can find to plans in a book some where? Well I know that I can at least, that is why I am “reinventing the wheel” so to speak. Right now I am designing a rocking chair. Now this is not going to be a brand new design but it will be different and I will be referencing off of the designs of Sam Maloof and the shaker and windsor period chairs. So I would like to know if any one else thinks that we should start something new and make our own furniture style, and still keep the classics going but just change things up a little bit. So the next entry that I will be putting in, will hopefulley have my chair design in it. I am encouraging others to start doing this too. With a chest or a table or maybe even a new shop design.


3 comments so far

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3134 days

#1 posted 03-05-2011 06:52 PM

The best inventions tend to be “borrowed” idea’s. I don’t concern myself too much with doing “original” woodwork, I don’t often work from plans, but I certainly can’t say I’ve come up with anything that hasn’t been done before. Do what you do and do it well. The rest falls into place.

Example, I am making a small shelf for some tools in my shop, the design has certainly been done. As have some of the “features” but my configuration is different to suit my needs, The work I have done has been neat and tidy and I have allowed the wood to dictate and influence my design as I have progressed.

Take the time to do good work, whether it design is yours or some-body else, your fingerprints will be there for future generations to appreciate.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3322 days

#2 posted 03-05-2011 09:35 PM

I almost exclusively build from patterns. It’s not because I wish to “borrow” ideas. It’s not because I can’t do things on my own. I use patterns because I found out from experience that I save a lot of money that way. I seldom build exactly according to plans. I change things as I see fit. I never build two things exactly alike. I have built ten project from one set of plans and each one be different in it’s own way.
That being said, your “revolution” in and of itself isn’t not even a unique idea. I think we’ve all been there if we work with wood long enough. Here’s the problem though, in my opinion. I have decided several times to go to the shop and build something totally unique. I put so much time, planning, and effort into it. I pour my heart and soul into this “unique” piece. I get through with it, and I am thrilled. Then my heart sinks later on. It may be a week, a month, whatever, but eventually I see it somewhere and realize the funny thing about the human mind. My “unique” project turns out is based on an idea or image in my mind from something I seen somewhere else.
I like to use the phrase, there’s nothing new under the sun. I think we all build unique projects in our own way. I don’t really remember seeing or hearing of anybdy that set out to build a woodworking project anytime or anywhere that was an exact copy of something they seen elsewhere. We take ideas instead, and build things we want to build. We always have our own little touches though.
I am not at all trying to put down your idea. I hope you don’t take it that way. If this is what you want to do, then by all means, it is a worthy endeavor. However, I quit worrying long time ago if what I was building was unique or not. I just enjoy my hobby. I build what I want to build. I do use patterns. I have much appreciation for the pattern designers. They have taken the ideas and spent the time, and usually wasted materials, to lay the framework for me, and others, to build these project. When we build them though, we can build as close or as far from their original ideas as we want. We can go exactly according to their pattern, or we can get those creative juices flowing and finish up with something that can hardly even be distinguished as being anything close to the original design.
I will look forward to seeing what you come up with.


View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 3309 days

#3 posted 03-06-2011 09:12 PM

I think it is a good thing to strive for originality, even if, as noted by above posts, true originality is somewhat of an illusion. Honestly though, if we go down that philosphical path too far, it leads to questioning our individuality itself.
There is always a certain amount of groundwork from others that we rely on and styles and things that have been used before on their own or maybe in certain combinations. As William said, you could build a piece you came up with yourself entirely and without looking for inspiration and maybe still find something similar later on. It might be discouraging, but I think it makes for a big difference (if only to yourself in worst case). Having arrived at a very similar destination by different roads is not the same as walking the same road after someone else. Each has its own good and bad and hence I think you should think of the reasons why someone is working from patterns and plans as opposed to making original work all by themselves.
Be careful not to hastily judge though, as originality is not always a priority or needed and can even be a hindrance too, depending on the circumstances.

Personally I don’t work from other persons plans or patterns (unless maybe it is for a tool, haven’t yet though), because I simply don’t enjoy it and coming up with an original design is a big part of the attraction for me. Also I intend to make my own style and personality the selling point of my work and as such I must of course take steps to ensure there is something found in my pieces that can’t be had on every corner for a fraction of the price.

With that out of the way though, I have great respect for people who do reproduction pieces or stick to a certain style and know by heart every little detail that is meant to be there or out of place. I wouldn’t be able to do that and I think that (revealing a certain irony) it is very important that we do remember and keep the styles of the past alive so it enables us to make modern original works and not just unknowingly recreate the old without knowing better.

So in the end it depends on what a piece is meant to achieve, if it’s done as hobby and to relax or serves a use or whatever requirements there are. If you do chose the way of originality and want to ultimately end up being known for your work and style, or even have a style bear your name, then I can only wish you the best and hope I’ll get there before you, since you’re about half my age and might give me a hard run if you have dedication and focus and aren’t taking as many detours as I have.

Similar to what I’ve seen in the (digitally painting)artist community, I would recommend you just work on things and do not overly stress reaching a unique style, as it will eventually crystalize after getting the basics done, learning what is out there and applying it while putting your own spin on and personality in it. As long as you keep honest to yourself and welcome critique, learn to figure out the good from the bad and how to cope with it, you’ll be on a good track.


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