How do you see your projects

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Forum topic by Oldelm posted 07-10-2012 05:45 PM 1909 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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75 posts in 3179 days

07-10-2012 05:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

After having numerous conversations with my wife on how I see a project before I start it I want to pose this question.
When you are planning a project do you see the finished project in your minds eye before you start or do you have to sketch it or make a drawing of it before you can see it. For myself I see the whole thing complete before I do any sketch right down to the color and the sheen and any features such as exposed joinery. I sometimes build without anything more then just knowing the width, height and depth. It drives my wife a little crazy because she wants to see it before I start and can not see it by description.

-- Jim, Missouri

26 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30597 posts in 3342 days

#1 posted 07-10-2012 06:21 PM

I plan NOTHING on paper. All in my head. Problem is that it is nearly imposible to make a second one.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4746 days

#2 posted 07-10-2012 07:29 PM

I see it in my head – but then i sketch out a REALLY CRUDE line drawing to consider which pieces I will cut first and generate a basic cut list.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View knotscott's profile


8409 posts in 4380 days

#3 posted 07-10-2012 08:36 PM

I never buy plans but usually sketch out what I’m going to do. The level of sketching depends in part on the complexity and significance of the project, but sometimes it depends on my mood and how well I’m “seeing” my path forward. There have been a couple of times when I’ve gone out to the shop and built a coffee or end table with no plans whatsoever. For projects like our fireplace that required a hole in the wall, bumpout addition, permits, and a big mantel, I definitely plan things out well.

Regardless of the level of detail in my plans, most things I build are a prototypes, so I often end up spotting a flaw along the way and end up deviating quite a bit from the plan…’s always nice to have the pic in the plans to show friends and neighbors what I”m attempting, but the farther into a project I get, the less the plans get followed!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View hhhopks's profile


663 posts in 3381 days

#4 posted 07-10-2012 08:39 PM

Just work on projects that belong to the garage and the basement within your domain. That way it won’t be issue. You won’t have to worry about how it may not match her grandmother’s….........chair or how it may clash with coffee table’s finish.

But really, these one of a kind project you can only spent so much time sketching them out. A rough one may be. You can expan on some rough sketches on some of the features. If you spent all the time in sketching it up in full detail then you have to go to the artist website findout more about perspective and study color tones….....

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 4045 days

#5 posted 07-10-2012 08:43 PM

I See it in my head, I do some Sketching on paper, & lately I have used DesignCAD. But when I go to Start working it is all by memory.

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View DS's profile


3673 posts in 3424 days

#6 posted 07-10-2012 08:44 PM

Anything complicated is just a series of easier things strung together.

Visualize your project, then break it down to the individual pieces.
This is best done with working drawings and a parts list.

Some can do it without written plans, but I prefer to make my mistakes on paper rather than in expensive wood.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Mosquito's profile


10894 posts in 3296 days

#7 posted 07-10-2012 08:51 PM

I see it and then sketch it (in SketchUp) to as near what I visualize as I can. I also like playing with things and making multiple versions of it with slight modifications that I can compare side by side as well.

I like to then play with the pieces and lay them out in ways to maximize my lumber utilization. I ended up buying lumber with rough measurements for one of my projects, and ended up with an entire 4’ piece of 8” wide red oak that never got used because of it. Same thing happened with a 2’ piece of 12”x12” 1/4” plywood for another little project. I had bought two pieces, but then was able to manage the project with only one by playing with what pieces were cut from where. I’ve found that easier with sketching it out personally.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 4116 days

#8 posted 07-10-2012 08:56 PM

I have this happen also with my wife. Once I get an idea in my head, I can visualize every detail but have rarely been able to explain it to her in a way she can understand. The solution for me has been Google Sketchup. Once I know what I am going to build, it only takes a short time to create it in sketchup and then my wife can see exactly what I plan to do and suggest changes if needed.

For things that I am building that I do not have to collaborate with my wife on I just build from in my head, but these are usually simpler projects. I have gotten quick enough with Sketchup now that I can put a plan together including joinery in my down time at work and be ready to cut wood when I get to the shop. This saves time and as DS251 says can save wood too.

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 3696 days

#9 posted 07-10-2012 08:59 PM

I usually have a pretty good idea what I want the finished piece to look like, but unless I capture those moments of inspiration on paper, I will end up frustrated in the heat of the moment, trying to remember what it was that I thought should be executed.

So I write it down, with a crude drawing or two and written instructions as if I was writing for a 10 year old with ADD. More than once I have written carefully calculated dimensions on a drawing with no instruction, only to later think “WTF was I thinking? This is all wrong!” Then 10 minutes later realizing I was correct in the first place.

Just the act or putting pencil to paper will help cement it in my mind.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4236 days

#10 posted 07-10-2012 09:08 PM

Very little gets made from “straight out of the skull” plans… I normally start with an idea in my head sit down at the computer with Sketchup, or just with a pad and pencil and sketch out what I want. Profiles etc… are rarely exact in the design phase, but close enough to know what it will look like.

While the computerized method is my addition, the method of design first, build last is how I was taught, how my Dad, my Grandfather etc… were taught. I have sketches in a family geneology book from my great grandfather for a Harvest Table and chairs that are now, over 100 years later, in one of my Dad’s cousins homes. I’m more than half tempted to build one from his sketches and notes, but fear my wife might not like something that massive in the dining room.

I fear Sketchup, or even computer print outs won’t be as durable as my Great Grandpa’s sketches, and that I find sad….

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Tokolosi's profile


678 posts in 3359 days

#11 posted 07-10-2012 09:21 PM

Im an architect so while I visualize everything I cant help but to draw it. I also try and keep most of my sketches. At least the ones that dont have too much glue or BLO on them.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View DonnyD's profile


49 posts in 3178 days

#12 posted 07-10-2012 09:25 PM

i see it in my mind but sometimes i sketch it up on paper to see if im crazy

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4484 days

#13 posted 07-10-2012 09:35 PM

I visualize it in my mind. I then draw a sketch, sometimes making templates as needed to do the work.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 3206 days

#14 posted 07-10-2012 09:49 PM

I visualize and make some real crude drawings and go at it and always make changes as I go along.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Oldelm's profile


75 posts in 3179 days

#15 posted 07-10-2012 09:55 PM

Everyone’s answers are great. My wife really does not have any problem with the projects I make for us. Her work is project management to produce computer software. She works with all the tools of a project manager project plans , timelines, work breakdown schedules and the like. It is more a mater of “how do you do that without all the paperwork to follow the path to the end.” I have computer software, Sketchbook and such to do drawings but seldom use it. My next project is going to be of fair size, a TV console. I know where it is to go so I know the size. When I thought about the concept I determined it would take about 100 BF of primary wood. Since I will be using walnut it will expensive. I then made a schedule of materials so I could use it at the supplier to pick the actual lumber. It came out at 103 BF. from here on I will make a story stick and proceed. I guess I wanted to make sure I was not doing something out of the ordinary. It seems to be almost equal between those who work from drawings or sketches and those who work mostly from their minds eye as I say. I have also thought thru every joint and every finish on each piece of the work. I am enjoying the conversation with you other LJ’s for sure.

-- Jim, Missouri

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