woking according to book plans... nevr again.

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Forum topic by Bernie posted 02-02-2011 06:59 AM 1873 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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422 posts in 3892 days

02-02-2011 06:59 AM

Have you ever found a really good project in a book or magazine and decided to build the project according to plan? I’ve made that mistake and will not do it again. A couple of years ago, I saw this great looking outdoor oak bench in a book and decided to build it. I was determined to do my 1st “professional” job so I read the instructions and followed them step by step. About 75% done, I realized that an error had been made and I knew I was going to have a straight back bench with no comfortable slant. I was right and upon investigating, I found the had told me to cut the dimensional back with a tapper and latter in the project the instruction was to cut a tapper in the back legs and cut them down to size again (or something stupid like that). Now I study the design and cut list and use my logical thinking. Today, I saw 2 serious errors in a cut list. Figure… a panel dimension of 81+ inches in length and the styles at 14 inches. And the 2 rails are a slightly different length ( 1 at the right length and the other omitting the loss fitting pieces into the style. Today, I acquired a roll of extra large paper so I can draw plans and fit them on paper.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

19 replies so far

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4396 days

#1 posted 02-02-2011 07:10 AM

sounds like your new plan is a better way

and not only draws you out
but makes the work more personal

will you make us a cut list lol

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Don's profile


517 posts in 4128 days

#2 posted 02-02-2011 07:31 AM

I’ve only done this once and it’s a project I’m currently working on. The plans and instructions are excellent. I’m sure there are plenty of badly written plans out there but there are certainly some good authors and some magazines do a better job of validating plans before publishing them than others. I wouldn’t write off getting plans from books and magazines due to one bad experience, I would just be more selective about the author and publisher.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4096 days

#3 posted 02-02-2011 09:29 AM

Good or bad plans I will find a way to mess up something. I must know better then the guy that made these plans, right? Anyways, sorry you got some bad plans but like Don said don’t rule out all plans. It is always a good idea to verify the plans before you waste some good wood on bad plans.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20637 posts in 4731 days

#4 posted 02-02-2011 01:33 PM

I agree with David, the new plan is your best plan. Hope you don’t make a mistake and follow the old plan for any new plans ;-)) (All puns intended!) Btw, I very seldom follow a plan. I have been using plans on jobs too long to use them off the job. I usually decide what I’m going to do and do it. Of course, I haven’t made any really complex projects like a high boy or something of that nature.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ScottN's profile


262 posts in 3734 days

#5 posted 02-02-2011 04:00 PM

When I got started in woodworking 20 years ago I subscribed to woodsmith magazine. They have excellent plans and would get into great detail on joinery. I highly recommend woodsmith to anyone that’s into woodworking.

-- New Auburn,WI

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5273 days

#6 posted 02-02-2011 04:27 PM

Once in a great while I will follow a plan. Either I will miss something or there will be a mistake in the plan, and the result is a screw up. Of course, I screw up when I build without plans as well. :-)

I guess it’s because I’m a left-handed, right-brained creative klutz, but I see working from plans as being a little like doing one of those old paint-by-numbers paintings. It takes skill to stay within the lines (which I’m not good at), but it takes a lot of the creative fun out of the process.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View nate22's profile


501 posts in 3930 days

#7 posted 02-02-2011 05:58 PM

your new plan is a better way. I don’t go by plans I don’t like them. That and if you draw them you can add your own touch to them and it will be better because you designed it yourself. Just my two cents on it.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 4421 days

#8 posted 02-02-2011 07:53 PM

It is not uncommon for plans in books and magazines to have errors. So you do have to be careful. Drawing them out on paper gives you three advantages.

1. Your mistakes are your own and not theirs.
2. I seldom make anything exactly like the plans, so by drawing it out, you not only can tie everything together but you can make changes to fit you.
3. Lots of times, there is something in the plan that I have said to myself, that looks stupid and I don’t think I will follow the plans for that detail. About 80 to 95% of the time, I am the stupid one. But drawing it out, helps.

Good luck


View tbone's profile


324 posts in 4739 days

#9 posted 02-02-2011 11:03 PM

This reminds me of the scene in SPINAL TAP where they drew some plans on a napkin and mistook the (‘) and the (“)—as in feet and inches.

Their 20 foot tall Stonehenge stage prop was built as 20 inches.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5043 days

#10 posted 02-02-2011 11:36 PM

I have never used a plan that I can remember.

Drawing or using a cad program is a great way to do it. If you are just starting out, include all the details you can.

After a while you can get by with just a general drawing with some overall dimensions and you will be able to full in all the details as you make it.

Experience is a good teacher and screwing things up is a great teacher! You can’t get the former without the latter.

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

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4778 days

#11 posted 02-03-2011 04:25 AM

A plan is nothing more than something to be deviated from. If I see something in a book or magazine I want to build, I always picture what I want from it in the end, and draw my own plans for it. Too many times I have seen mistakes in “plans” to use some else’s. If I make a mistake, it is going to be the result of my error and not some one else’s error.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 4161 days

#12 posted 02-03-2011 04:38 AM

I have always taught my people that paper or soapstone on a concrete slab is cheaper than metal or wood. Never failed me. Plans just give you the concept, the rest is up to you and your vision.

When I make a mistake, I run to David and Charlie. They give me a cry towel and a pat on the head and all is better. Works every time! Thanks David and Charlie. Rand

View alan coon's profile

alan coon

115 posts in 4768 days

#13 posted 02-03-2011 05:42 AM

I’m with Gary,experience and mistake’s.

-- Al, South E. Az., But it's a dry heat.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3892 days

#14 posted 02-03-2011 05:51 AM

I’m comfortable to look at a plan and modifying it to my specs. But it still irks me to to have these expensive and reputable books and magazines publish serious mistakes.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 4238 days

#15 posted 02-03-2011 06:35 AM

Plans are not a bad way to go, you just have to read, re-read and then read it some more. Look at the dimensions and then visualize all the pieces and only then cut the first piece. Plans can inspire and embedded in most plans are techniques that some may not have thought of before and along the way you learn whats good and whats not so good. I bought one of Morm Abrams book of projects about 20 years ago and I’ll tell you it was full of mistakes and if one wasn’t careful you could waste time, money and wood. Most mistakes are made when the people publishing the books or plans print them and not all mistakes are corrected. Not making excuses for them because they shouldn’t let mistakes go out but it does happen.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

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