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Any Interest in Detailed Woodworking Plans? Informal Poll

1889 Views 29 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  JAAune
I've seen people searching for good designs to purchase in various places and I've just started wondering how much interest exists out there if I were to start creating and publishing sets of plans on my website.

Anyone that's paid attention to my posts over the years will know that I've been doing highly detailed drawings for every piece of furniture I've ever built and am pretty much capable of doing any design. All joinery details, jigs, material types and cut angles are calculated and noted in the drawings. Besides this, I'm also proficient in rendering, photoshop and website administration so I have all the skills needed to make this happen.

Of course each set would at minimum contain complete drawings listing all the critical dimension information.

Here's a list of a potential additional features:

1. Plans organized according to required tools and skills.
2. Free updates if plans are improved after initial sale.
3. Fabrication tips and techniques to make the job easier.
4. Jig designs included
5. Notes on how to perform various operations
6. After sales support if people have specific questions about various operations. Email or forum for this?

For those who like to buy plans, what sort of prices would people be interested in paying for which features? I would obviously have to charge more per plan if I were to do after sales support but perhaps people would rather just pay a low price then figure out the rest on their own? Perhaps cheap plans and a support option for those who want to pay extra?

If I decide to take off with this idea I'd probably start by taking requests then posting the finished designs for sale and the requester could then make the purchase along with everyone else. I'd have to see a good show of interest though so if you want this to happen, don't lurk but speak up! Ideas and feedback are appreciated.
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I believe that there is interest. Right now I am not looking, but very common that I do search for some plans. Good luck and I will watch for you.
I am not interested either thanks! I can usually work out dimensions plans myself from a photograph in a book or magazine and have never bought a plan in my nellie dean. Sorry to pour cold water on your new scheme But i do not see this taking off. Alistair
I think there's interest, but there are a couple problems I suspect you'll bump into….

1. Woodworkers will spend a $1,000 on a new too, $100 on lumber but won't spend 2 cents on plans, because they think that they can make their own plans (and many can) or that they don't need detailed plans (and many don't).

2. There are a lot of plans out there that are available for free (just Google "free woodworking plans"). And there are even more cataloged in years of woodworking mags…. many of which are now pirated online through sites like SCRIBD.

You might consider using the offer of free or low cost plans to draw attention to your web site, and then try to turn a buck off of the sites volume. Several of our favorite YouTube woodworkers are doing this…. but I'm not sure that any of them are getting rich.
Low cost and digital download is the original plan (no pun intended). I'm aware of the free sites but I'd be interested in hearing more specifics on why people like them or why they don't.

Carry on with the feedback. Thanks.
I like the idea. The difficulty I have with buying digital plans is I still like to hold, touch and draw on my plans. I only just recently brought myself to buy only a digital copy of a book….kind of old fashioned that way. I wonder if there is an age relationship when buying things like this?
Possibly. I usually print out my plans during the actual project but I like everything archived on the computer since storing hundreds of plans takes a lot of space. Then again, I didn't have 20 years to get used to doing things on paper before computers came on the scene.
I've purchased plans only to make changes to my own "eye" and but more often than that I can go off overall dimensions (if available) or a photo…but that's me…

I would like to add to what Matt said above…there is an awful amount of piracy out there and your plans could be subject to this activity. What would you do to prevent this from happening to you ?
I wouldn't try to prevent it but would instead take the approach sites like Good Old Games take. They keep prices low and try to make it as easy as possible to purchase and use their DRM-free products. Done correctly (big if), it builds enough customer loyalty to keep the piracy problem to a minimum.

For the sake of discussion, suppose the plans could be purchased for 99 cents and a couple clicks to initiate a Paypal transaction. What do you suppose is the bigger stumbling block, the 99 cents or the effort it takes to go through the checkout process and wait for the downloads?

I'm thinking the bigger turn-off is the amount of time it takes to put the order in and download the file.
I kinda agree along the same lines with Mainiac Matt's response. Figuring out the details and doing your own custom design is half the fun - for me anyway. I study photos and measure only some furniture items in select stores if I find them especially pleasing in some way.

I'm still wishing you all the best with your website plans - if you can do it better than most others for your target market, then you should do well!
Well if/when you get your website set up to sell plans, let us know. I'm sure members here will be interested (myself included) in purchasing your plans…..Good luck !
There are times when I would definitely be interested, especially if the cost is under $5 per plan. While I do enjoy designing my own projects most of the time, on certain builds I prefer to work off of a plan. For instance, on larger more complicated pieces of furniture. I also like to use a plan when I'm on a tight deadline or doing a project for $$. It helpls if I do not have to spend hours drawing one up myself, figuring how many board feet, and working out the little design elements, not to mention the time wasted standing at the workbench scratching my head. I think your success will be in providing unique designs that can't be found elsewhere. If you enjoy doing this kind of work, do not be discouraged from giving it a try.
I'd be doing original designs for sure. Reproductions I don't care about and I think you're correct that they'd not be popular.
I believe there is always a market for good plans, but marketing will be the key.

First, you have to figure out "who" would buy (pay a decent price for a good set of detailed plans as you describe) and "why".

Our first instance is the internet, because of it's ability to reach such a wide market, but while the interenet addresses some of the issues of marketing it also draws a larger audience that is not what you're looking for.

People may use the internet to find unique ideas that are not available in their local markets, but most use the internet for price purposes. Once they find something unique, then where can they find it for free. We're all guilty of this, so we can't blame the consumer for not being willing to pay for anything.

Over the years, I've watched and listened to woodworkers shop for everything from the lumber they use, hardware, tools, books, videos and plans.

A couple places that always amazed me on how much business they do is; Woodcraft stores and Woodworkers Supply.

I've watched woodworkers spend hours in those stores shopping for books, videos and I was always impressed with the number of plans they sold. (and they are definitely not cheap or free).

Your marketing strategy will be the key, buy I'm not sure it would neccessarily be the internet.

Maybe getting some plans into stores like Woodcraft, Woodworkers Supply or other woodworking specialty stores could get you in front of the right buying crowd.

You have a nice web-site, showing some beautiful work, but a very limited selection of furniture and cabinetry. I'm not sure that would offer woodworkers much of a choice in selection for plans. (the reason most want or need plans is simply because they need help with ideas on design and then how to build it).

I think you've got a great idea with offering plans that go above and beyond the normal set of DYI plans that offer nothing more than a cut list and diminisions, but finding the niche will be your real challenge.
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I think the best pole would be to stop asking about it and just do it. People will say whatever they feel at the moment if you simply ask if there is a market. I haven't had my coffee yet…. your plan (pun intended) will never work. I just finished my morning coffee… wow, what a great idea!

You already have the website and you already have some plans. Do it. Personally, I think you will make some sales. Then again, I just finished my morning coffee. ;)
I have always built my own projects on the fly. Have not used a plan yet. I've done various cabinets, armoires, doll houses, tables etc. but using framing techniques rather than joinery. I've just this past year hopped on the joinery bandwagon.

The difference I find is that slapping a screw or nail into a board is a far cry from using a mortise and tenon. Even gluing up a tabletop is far more time consuming than I imagined.

So where am I going with this? Well, I'd actually like to give a plan a try. Rather than building on the fly, there could be great time savings found in having a set design, and rethinking, modifying, forgetting the original plan can be minimized, so joinery becomes the focus.

The problem: finding a plan for the piece you want to build, that fits well in the space you want and having the style you desire is a tougher mission.

Plans seem to me to be useful in doing a project just for the sake of the project.

So… If you're doing plans for each build you do, post em up on your site. It can't hurt to try to make a little from them.
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I've got more work that's not on the website but I wouldn't post the plans for those anyway. Almost all of it is tailored specifically to a single customer or location. Everything would have to be made from scratch.

I like your just-do-it attitude Tedster and normally that's how I roll. At the moment however, I have a handful of potential projects to consider and need to determine which one to tackle. Can't do it all.

Plus, I'll likely hit it hard or not do it at all. Doing this right will probably take a year to put together and push out to market. I'd need to create at least a dozen plans to launch then setup a store and set a carefully planned marketing campaign in motion.

There's also the likelihood that Lumberjocks is not quite the right place to do market studies. I suspect that there are other websites that have a higher number of weekend warriors that just want to knock out a project in a couple weekends.
Buckethead, that gives me an idea. Perhaps setting up the plans tiered as a learning series might be useful. Basically, each plan would be rated for skill level and technique so people could work from total beginner to a master level.
I have "bought" plans from two sources before: Matthias Wandel (bandsaw plans), and Woodsmith magazine.

Woodsmith I subscribe to because I find their writeups and plans interesting, well-thought out, and they have a lot of information packed into each project, some of it not having to do with the project at all.

Matthias I bought a bandsaw plan from because I wanted a bandsaw (still do, haven't built it yet since we are in the process of moving). I am also just in awe of his projects, plans, creativity, etc.

I'd say to make your move viable you should first focus on gaining followers by putting out some simpler, free plans on a blog. I and many other woodworkers visit weekly because I am interested in what Matthias puts out for content. Most of that I don't pay for. The reason I gave him $20 was because I KNEW I'd be getting my money's worth with him. I knew this because of his high-quality and original (and free) blog, videos, projects, etc.

Besides LJs, it's probably safe to say that most woodworkers are starving for free, available content on the internet. There are tons of blogs out there, but only a handful that are constantly updated with quality material. If you can keep that going, you'll get people reading no problem with pretty minimal advertising. Then, once they are consistently reading your blog and impressed with you, then you'll be able to start selling plans, like Matthias does.

Best of luck with this endevour! If you decide to start a blog like Matthias's, do let us on LJs know. I'd be happy to read what you have to say, and eventually to buy a plan if there was something that tickled my fancy.
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I hope that you are successful in your venture. I feel for the most part woodworkers are on the cheep side even passing up a 99 cent plan for a free one even though the 99 cent plan is far superior . I agree with the go for it approach. Good luck. :)
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