Plans or No Plans

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by Don W posted 07-18-2011 10:19 PM 2019 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Don W's profile

Don W

19381 posts in 3128 days

07-18-2011 10:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plans

I was wondering what the thoughts are about building from plans or from inspiration. I typically don’t have plans for most of my woodworking projects. I can work from plans, and will if I have them, but even then I typically deviate at some point.

Sometimes I draw my own, if it’s a fairly intricate project, but usually it’s all in my head. (It’s not real crowded in there).

What’s your preference and why?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

37 replies so far

View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 3254 days

#1 posted 07-18-2011 10:29 PM

Plans are like rules I just cant help but to break them. I dont even try to use plans anymore.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View ellen35's profile


2746 posts in 3993 days

#2 posted 07-18-2011 10:29 PM

Occasional plans with a healthy dose of inspiration! If I use a plan, I always look to see how I can adapt it and create something a little more interesting than the plan. To me, plans are a “jumping off point” and not written in stone. I use them for the framework and add the creativity as I go along. The idea is to make something unique and to keep my brain working….

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3159 days

#3 posted 07-18-2011 10:39 PM

Plans can be a good starting or reference point, however I almost always deviate from them at some point. Once i see something that I want to build or that inspires me, I too can usually work it out in my head. Sometimes I make a drawing, but since I too also have a lot of space in my head, there is room for visualization of most details. So without plans is my “norm”.

View Bertha's profile


13568 posts in 3254 days

#4 posted 07-18-2011 10:44 PM

I’ve never used a plan but I’m planning to. Seriously, though…I’ve never used a plan but I’m interested in doing it. I’m talking about following a plan to the T as a challenge. My bucketlist includes a massive secretary with cathedral cubbies, carvings, hidden compartments, the works. I’m tempted to buy a grandiose plan and follow it to the millimeter, cutlist and all. It would be like a 10,000 piece puzzle, only cooler.

I’m the type that would rather hold a board up and mark it than trust CAD and my ruler. I’m more of a storystick guy than a calculator guy.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3659 days

#5 posted 07-18-2011 10:56 PM

I always work from plans.
And I always deviate when the inevitable mistake is made.
Then I make the same mistake twice so it is a symmetrical piece and looks like it was intended.
Now it is a “one of a kind Piece of Art”.

This way I can say I’ve never made a mistake!

View Don W's profile

Don W

19381 posts in 3128 days

#6 posted 07-18-2011 10:57 PM

there is some irony in my story. I got into computer work because I used to design with CAD programs before they were cool. So I can make them(plans that is), I can follow them and they defined my future, but I don’t typically use them.

I’d design stairs with CAD because it was quicker and more accurate than field layout. Now I do the field layout because I am not trying to make money, just have a good time. Life has some interesting twist.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3721 days

#7 posted 07-18-2011 11:15 PM

No plans, at least I rarely buy them. I kinda figure that one of the genes of a woodworker gives us the ability to look at a picture and duplicate what we see, even hidden joints. Once in a blue moon I’ll buy the plans to support the artist. I feel bad sometimes getting ideas from others’ posts. Maybe a handle here or a lower section there. I rarely duplicate something exactly. I usually have something to change on it.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Bertha's profile


13568 posts in 3254 days

#8 posted 07-18-2011 11:26 PM

DW, I can relate. I’m OCD, Cluster A, control freak, jerk, lots of words for it. My professional life often rewards these traits. The last thing I want to do when I get home is start fussing over 1/100th inch. But it’s hard to shake, brother. I have to consciously turn off the analytical brain or I’ll suck the fun out of my hobby. I have to ration my woodworking books, else I’ll turn fanatical. My brain is like Spy versus Spy, CAD versus freestyle fingerpainting. I think it’s healthy but it very well could be insanity.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View TheDane's profile


5708 posts in 4224 days

#9 posted 07-18-2011 11:35 PM

Many years ago, I had a part-time gig as a draftsman for a farm machinery manufacturer. If the project is any more complicated than a bookend or something, I can knock out some drawings pretty fast (I still have my instruments and salvaged a drafting table from the dumpster a few years ago).

I also have used Google SketchUp … there is a learning curve, but it sure is nice to play ‘what if?’ scenarios with parts and pieces without cutting any stock.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4779 days

#10 posted 07-18-2011 11:42 PM

I rarely use plans, and usually screw something up when I do. :-)

About the only reason I ever draw anything out on paper is that I find it helps me with making the most of my material, cut-wise. But all visualization/design takes place in my head. Like you said… lot’s of room up there. (Good line!)

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

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 3200 days

#11 posted 07-19-2011 01:00 AM

Ditto on the cut list for materials, but no formal “plan” on paper.

If for a particular “fit”, I will lay it out to get my length, depth, and height requirements (for example the razor saws and the upcoming planes’ shelf).

It’s fun to make changes (improvements?) as you go… or let something morph into something else entirely. My shop desk/table turned into a rolling cart, then an off-load for the ts, then got some sides and drawers. I never intended that.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3659 days

#12 posted 07-19-2011 01:08 AM

Make it first, then draw the plans.
It always comes out perfect!

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3184 days

#13 posted 07-19-2011 01:16 AM

Jim, I like your strategy!

I only have about four completed projects under my belt but none of them are from plans. Yet, I wonder if this may retard my progress (pun intended). As I think about moving on to more complex projects, like the blanket chest my wife wants, I intend to either follow or draw a plan.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View john's profile


2381 posts in 4942 days

#14 posted 07-19-2011 01:18 AM

Jim that is exactly how i do it . It works out everytime ;-)

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3659 days

#15 posted 07-19-2011 02:47 AM

Great minds think alike

showing 1 through 15 of 37 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics