Where do you get your ideas and plans

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Forum topic by Alongiron posted 04-09-2011 10:55 PM 1898 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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654 posts in 3169 days

04-09-2011 10:55 PM

I see lot of great projects being posted on LumberJocks and I was wanting to know if anyone can share where they get their ideas or plans? I guess I could start myself by “pulling a Norm” I visit antique shops and malls a take pictures and measurments when possible after approval. I also subscribe to Wood magazine and Woodsmith magazine.

So if you would like to share some of your thoughts, I would appreciate it and I am sure others would as well.


-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

16 replies so far

View devann's profile


2250 posts in 3168 days

#1 posted 04-09-2011 11:08 PM

The best ideas, I steal them from my woodworking buddies. Now that is a two way street. If I make something you like and you want to make yourself a better one, knock yourself out, go for it. Of coarse I get a lot of good ideas from comments when I post a project in this site. Plans, I usually draw my own.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3399 days

#2 posted 04-09-2011 11:33 PM

A lot of my ideas come from woodworking mags. Some come from pictures of items I see on the net or at A&C shows. Most of the people at the shows do not want you taking pictures(understandable) so either ask or don’t do it. Building from pictures usually means a full size drawing and lay out for me. That takes a lot of time but worth it in some instances. Other options would be Sketchup (cad) drawings.

-- Life is good.

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4500 days

#3 posted 04-10-2011 12:12 AM

Many times, I start with a concept or a need. I’ll often start with a rough idea of what I want to accomplish, then look for ways other people have done a similar thing.

One great new resource is Cooliris. This program/browser add-in allows you to rapidly scroll through a multitude of images relating to your search parameters. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a visual research tool.

As I go, I make rough sketches and revise repeatedly until I get near to what I want. I rarely do full-size mockups, except in cases where exact relationships to something else are required. Often, I build directly from my sketches with minimal numbers, but a lot of relative measurements using story sticks and dividers.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4694 days

#4 posted 04-10-2011 12:17 AM

I don’t work from plans, but most of my ideas are stolen right here!

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

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Jim Finn

2737 posts in 3398 days

#5 posted 04-10-2011 12:49 AM

I have looked at antique sites on the internet and from those images I “Invent” my own patterns and make these new “antiques”. I also get a lot of ideas in forums like this one.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11749 posts in 3904 days

#6 posted 04-10-2011 01:13 AM

Here, there and everywhere. Mostly here.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 04-10-2011 03:04 AM

For simple things, I just start building. If you look at my projects though, I seldom do simple things. I work mostly from bought plans. Seldom though are my finished projects built exactly according to the plans. I change things as I see fit. I get my plans at various sources. Anytime I have downtime (or sitting on the toilet) you can catch me picking through catalogs to see what plans I want to order or to get ideas on the simpler things that I build. I order my plans from …........
Wildwood Designs
Cherry Tree Toys
Wooden Teddy Bear
The Art Factory
Meisel Hardware Specialties
Now most of these sites are geared towards scroll saw type projects, but many have other types of woodwork too. For non scrolling wood work, I guess my favorite source would be
If you are interested in scrolling though, a great source for free patterns is…......
Scrollsaw Workshop


View pete79's profile


154 posts in 3616 days

#8 posted 04-10-2011 03:42 AM

I have the misfortune of a mind that won’t turn off on occasion. Sometimes I don’t sleep while I envision the next project, the next cut, etc. It’s a bad problem to have sometimes, but basically I say something like “I need a bench” and then I draw it over and over in my head until I have what I like – then I build it.

Oh – and stealing people’s ideas from here works if you’re up all night and just want to go to sleep already.

-- Life is a one lap race.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1610 posts in 4034 days

#9 posted 04-10-2011 04:32 PM

I just open my Stickley catalog. Fellow LJ’s inspire me constantly.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View KnickKnack's profile


1098 posts in 4042 days

#10 posted 04-10-2011 07:50 PM

I spend a lot of time surfing through the search engine (google, bing etc) image searches. If I’m thinking of building, say, a dresser, I’ll do searches for “dresser art deco”, “dresser bauhaus” etc etc. I then go through all the gazzilion pages, going to the individual web sites if a picture takes my fancy – often those web sites have more interesting pictures. I’m not looking so much for the dresser thing as interesting shapes, interesting lines, interesting contrasts etc etc. I have a folder on my computer labelled (for historical reasons) “Rietveld” and I copy pictures into there, or sometimes the URL of a site with lots of interest. Once in a while I just scroll slowly through all those pictures hoping something will trigger a train of thought on what I actually am thinking about. I draw “plans” if you’d call them that in a drawing program, or in a notebook if I’m out in the world when something hits me. Refine, go to step 1, repeat.

I also tend to suffer from pete79s problem – I try to imagine actually making the thing I’m designing in my head over and over and over and over – I still don’t understand why those first 79 times going through it I didn’t realise that piece X couldn’t actually be attached to piece Y – luckily run-through 80 picked it up.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3536 days

#11 posted 04-10-2011 08:02 PM

Where do you get your ideas and plans

From you, he, she, from everyone.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3844 days

#12 posted 04-10-2011 09:04 PM

I just listen to what people say they want, then build them my version of it. Have not had anyone refuse yet. LOL I don’t use plans or patterns for anything I build, just make plans of my projects afterwards if someone has asked for them.

View EPJartisan's profile


1122 posts in 3601 days

#13 posted 04-11-2011 05:59 PM

I am fond of expressions and idioms ~ “No man is an island” and “nothing is new, it has all been done” are my boundaries for my work. I want to do something no one has seen before, and the only way I can do this is by knowing what is out there. Plans are only guidelines for me, though I read and study them for joinery and proportions. I truly enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to accomplish what I see in my head. I say the hardest thing in woodworking is to create an truly original piece from paper to the last coat of finish … my hat is off to anyone who has done this. Why at times I stare at a finished piece with a slight confusion of who actually made this.. me? really?? Can I do that again??? LOVE IT!!! In all … something that I hold dear to my heart, talent, and spirituality … is that Nature has the best ideas and plans for good design and comes up with some amazing solutions.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3342 days

#14 posted 04-11-2011 07:21 PM

Some from the internet, some from books, some from magazines, and some of them I just make up in my head. I usually don’t have the benefit of plans and usually a picture is good enough. I almost always modify something for my own taste and needs.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View patron's profile


13649 posts in 3817 days

#15 posted 04-11-2011 07:35 PM

i wait for charlie to post
and use his ideas

i change just enough so he doesn’t know

thanks charlie !

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

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