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I'm always kind of amazed and befuddled at folks that ask for plans for seemingly simple projects like boxes or
picture frames requested from people who have some very nice somewhat advanced projects listed . At first thinking about this I thought maybe it's because I have a lot more experience than others, but then I think of my first woodworking project(a corner entertainment center) and remember I just saw a photo and came up with the height,width and depth of it and it wasn't even a entertainment center photo. It almost seems strange to me to have plans other than ones I've developed. This is not intended as a brag or look what I do scenario. I just wondered if others have done the same since there beginnings in wood working. I wanted to know if the people who ask for fairly simple plans don't like making plans or just want to make sure there doing things the right way or maybe they feel there just being lazy. I mean no offence to anyone asking this question.
 

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I know what you mean, I rarely have a plan for something I build for myself, family or friends, customers on the other hand I usually draw up a plan on paper or Google SketchUp so they can see it before I actually go ahead and build it. Most of the things I make are combinations of many other projects out there plus a lot of my own input, all the plans I need are in my head and rarely make it onto paper, I think it all comes down to is that this is a skill and some just don't have it, noting wrong with hiving or not having it, it's just a matter of our own personal preference of how we make something in the shop. Thanks for the post Jim, I was wondering about this myself.
 

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I like plans for one thing, to give me an idea and a place to start. I've never built something exactly to someone else plans. For large complex projects, plans are nice to get you over the design hump but for simple items likes shelves etc, a picture is all I need. A lot of it comes from my musical background, "a variation on a theme." Take someones theme (design) and change it slightly to make it your own.
 

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I have found people can't think on there own but if you tell how to do each time they can.
 

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I'm the same way Jim, I can picture it in 3D in my mind and that's enough for me to go off of. I'll sometimes make a sketch for cutting purposes so I don't have to cut twice but that's about it. I've never built off a plan, I tend to incorporate things that I've seen in different items into one.

And many a time the design has changed as it's coming together (while I'm milling the wood or dry fitting) because I'll realize 'this will look better'.

I've got a few woodworking friends that are dead in the water without plans so I can understand it. They can't do their own plans either, they have to have the plans ready made for them.
 

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I've never built anything from a plan, and can't really imagine doing so. But I guess different people's brains work different ways. I was always good with numbers, but totally stuck when it came to advanced math, because I have to be able to picture the logic in my head, the same way I have to picture a woodworking project in my head.
 

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The only plan I really need is how to get away to the shop! Seriously, I don't normally use plans except for ones I occasionally find in a woodworking magazine that I want to duplicate (mostly jigs). I agree with you that once you have an idea of what you want and what size, the rest is just preparing stock and joinery. I spent a lot of time doing plans once on Sketchup to make some tables. I cut and joined everything to plan and it worked great, but I could have just as well done without the plan. Maybe some folks just assume they need a plan from habit or the way they were taught.

Many new to woodworking also might not have developed the self confidence the older hands have acquired with experience. I have to confess that sometimes I just start out with a vague idea of what I am going to make and then keep modifying it as I get new ideas. This of course sometimes has an effect on the workmanship, but then I just call it a prototype (even if I don't ever make another one)

Woodworking encompasses a broad area of craftsmanship and with it all sorts of folks. I guess in the end it doesn't really matter how we do it as long as we enjoy ourselves and/or make a living at it.
 

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I also don't use others plans. I like to look around and make my own, whether the idea comes from measuring up a piece in person and then figuring the rest out, or just looking at pics online then coming up with a plan. Woodworking is full of problem solving and the design is just the start of it.
 

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Jim, Blankman is on the right track. It is a talent of being able to understand spacial relationships which not all people can understand. This is why some people cannot do drafting or art painting well. The talent is usually a natural one but can be learned with a degree difficulty, it is a talent you are tested for to enter a drafting and design program, you must be able to "see" the object from all angles in your head.
I think it is a good thing that those who don't have this talent ask for a ready made picture with dimensions that they feel more confident using.
If you think of product drawing as being the work of another valid occupation and made by a craftsman in another valid occupation you find that a person usually excells at one skill much more than the other.
From my own experiences, teaching a student who does not have this talent in drafting and design is very, very difficult. The student has a hard time and usually will switch programs to something where this talent is not required.
 

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I have Graph Paper, I draw it out to scale, make notes, then start buying materials. I also try to "plan in" a new skill, and a new tool I don't have already. I remember from my entertainment system and other project you folks will see soon enough, that I always make things more functional and complicated than they need to be. A side effect of the internet. Good Question.
 

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hey jim…good question to spur the thinking…...as for me..ive never used a plan i dont think…i get the idea and then formulate the dimensions…..and draw it out…i havent used sketchup yet…although i do have it downloaded….maybe the only thing i had to get the plan for was this red dress…i mean i didnt know the right length to show the right muscle or where my slip line would be…..lol…lol…...i could not resist that one…
 

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I work more often without plans than I do with. It depends partly on the complexity of the project, but mostly I like to express my own creativity in a project. So I may customize an existing design or completely wing it.

I think people have different parts of the process they enjoy. I enjoy the designing AND building. Some folks may just want to build. For them, working from plans lets them focus on what they like.
 

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I wonder if the technician at the transmission place rolled his eyes at me for not repairing the differential on my B-2500 myself. Or, if an irrigation specialist-friend was annoyed when I had to ask him a few esoteric questions about my planned lawn-sprinkler project. Do people snicker behind my back when I use my Garmin Nuvi to get to a tool warehouse in a part of town I've never been to before, even though I could probably find my way there without it? Do chefs look at me with disdain for adhering precisely to cookbook recipe instructions? I can't possibly prepare an elaborate dish or dessert without reference. I know the extent of my cooking expertise, and seek written instructions whenever stepping into uncharted waters. That is the well-reasoned approach to achieving good results in a discipline you are not that familiar with.
Think of a project that is beyond the realm of your 'gift', and imagine an expert looking askance at YOU, like the little punk behind the counter at the industrial-supply place who got sarcastic with me for not being able to answer his questions fast enough. How should I know the difference between a sealed bearing and a shielded bearing? I just wanted to fix my old router!
Lots of diverse talents come natural to us, but for anyone who needs guidance in woodworking, we should not criticize them for having less ability than ourselves. They might be the person you call upon when your CNC panel saw needs a new microprocessor…. then the shoe would be on the other foot!
 

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Jim, I have thought about that very often on here. But then I realize that a lot of woodworkers here are only beginners and they don't understand woodworking like most of us seasoned woodworkers. Years ago I might have asked the same question. I haven't used a plan for years to build anything that I personnally do. But we use plans everyday for the cabinets we build. So my point is let's just help those that ask for our help. That what this website is for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
All interesting comments.
Hey poopiekat
I don't think I said people could not use or ask for plans nor do I criticize people who use them that's there perogative. My only question was why people who seemly have the building talent need a plan for a thing like a box. do I ever use plans for machine assembly,instructions in a software programs, or trying to fiqure out how to cook when my wife's been sick YOU BET.Remember my last sentence
"I mean no offence to anyone asking this question." I'm not looking down on anyone that knows less than I do I'm only asking what others do. You are entitled to your approach to anything and every thing you do and I fault no one for doing the same.BTW Many people ask me questions on the forum and through PM s I always try to share what little I know with all of Ljs members and beyond.
My best wishes to you my friend
 

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I have built from just an idea in my head, I do sometimes get a plan and use it as a guide only, on some projects I will have more than one plan and use different parts of each and work them in together, much of the time I sketch out on paper just to get a better idea of what I want. I guess there are as many ways to do something as there are LJs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
OK one more thing in the Mix after talking with my wife she said maybe because I'm left handed and have dyslexic tendencies it has trained me to not to work from others plans both of these things might make it less lightly that I will understand or want to work from others plans. Do any of you feel that might be the reason you develop your own plans versus using pre made plans
 
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