List of Perfect/Near-Perfect Plans -- Or One With Only A Minor Error Noted

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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 10-14-2012 03:08 PM 2360 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7933 posts in 4197 days

10-14-2012 03:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: perfect plan woodworking project plans perfect plans

OK, we all know how frustrating it is to find published WW Plans with glaring and/or hidden errors in them. Those errors often cost us precious time in the shop to correct/fix those errors in order to salvage the project. I even recently posted my own complaints about errors in plans here.

HOWEVER, we all also come across the “Perfect Plan” on occasion.

With THAT in mind, here is your chance to ADD such a “perfect” plan to the list. Maybe we can create a ready source for LJs to choose better woodworking plans for their projects and maybe send a much needed message to those who publish such plans, that we do pay attention to good plans.

Rules of engagement:

  • Full reference required—Name of Magazine/Source, volume/date, page numbers, etc.
  • Scan of first Page of plan acceptable though not required
  • If a minor error is noted then “Explain clearly” how/what to correct
  • Plan can be for ANY project, including Furniture, Jigs, Art, etc.
  • What interested you most about this particular project and would you recommend it?

Let me start out with a plan that I found very complete and thorough in its detailed diagrams and instruction. I built this Jelly cupboard because of our own personal need to store our canned goods and to do so in an attractive period piece. The build was very straight forward and I had it done before I knew it. I built mine using Soft Maple and a Golden Oak stain even though the plans called for #2 Pine. The Pine would have made this a very affordable piece, even for the novice. Additional options were also given, that included using “cut nails” and “dowel-lap joinery” for greater authenticity if you so desire. And YES, I wholeheartedly recommend this project and the published plans.

The plans were on pages 6—11 of No.87 Woodsmith magazine.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

9 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4860 days

#1 posted 10-14-2012 03:42 PM

The very first source for accurate plans that came to mind was Woodsmith and it’s sister magazine Shop notes.
As a instructor of adult woodworking my students are always bringing in plans of things they want to build and many of the plans are terrible with glaring errors where parts don’t even come close to fitting together or plans that have no regard for wood movement or plans that only have butt joinery. Some companies that sell woodworking books full of plans have no idea of how to build and the people drawing the plans most certainly are not experienced woodworkers.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3770 days

#2 posted 10-14-2012 04:05 PM

Great idea Mike!

I seldom use plans myself… I’m not smart enough to follow them. For those that do follow plans, I think this could be a great resource.

Usually if I need some kind of plan I go to North Dakota State University although most of those are for buildings and other stuff, there is still some great ideas in there.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View MrRon's profile


6205 posts in 4526 days

#3 posted 10-14-2012 04:52 PM

Whether its woodworking plans in a magazine or plans from a shipyard to build an aircraft carrier, there will almost always be errors in the plans. In the shipyard case, a lot of money goes into checking plans for errors, but some still get through. A magazine that employs someone to draw plans, doesn’t take the same amount of care or money to ensure the plans are perfect. The most common error is in the use of plywood. A plan may call for 1/4” ply and we know plywood measures more like 7/32” or less. Sometimes it can be 5 mm thick. Its always good to check a drawing closely, which I know you have done, but you did miss one error. I personally make my own drawings (I used to work as a CAD designer in a shipyard) and I still make mistakes. As one said on your other post, that it may be a conspiracy by the publisher; I can’t buy that. I think it’s just plain carelessness by the publisher. I see publishers will publish a correction to a drawing in a follow issue whether caught by the magazine or by a subscriber. Lets face it. Nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes, even government.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7933 posts in 4197 days

#4 posted 10-14-2012 05:04 PM

Thank you for confirming my own suspicions about how good Woodsmith and ShopNotes are. As a matter of fact, and in support of that, I should probably add my little Dado Jig project to the list. For what seems to be such a simple jig, ShopNotes dedicates 4-pages of diagrams, pictures and an entire page on “how-to” use this nifty jig. While I did alter the plans to make it adjustable from above, these are very complete plans. ShopNotes definitely gets my vote with the only caveat being that if I spent all my time building all the jigs and shop accessories, then I would never have time to build all the stuff these nifty jigs and such “help” you build. ;-)

ShopNotes March 1995 Vol.4 Issue #20 pp4—7

My Alterations

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View TheDane's profile


6018 posts in 4946 days

#5 posted 10-14-2012 06:50 PM

The guy that founded Woodsmith and ShopNotes (Don Peschke) is a woodworker who got fed up with the lack of complete, easy to follow plans … that’s why he started Woodsmith 30+ years ago.

I don’t know Don Peschke, and have no connection to his company, but I have been a subscriber and customer of his since I started woodworking and have always been absolutely satisfied with everything I have purchased either via the magazines or the Woodsmith Store near Des Moines, Iowa. I think they give you a lot of value for the dollars you spend with them.


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

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5027 days

#6 posted 10-14-2012 08:18 PM

I don’t use plans myself, other than to get an overall sense of the piece to be built. I like to build my projects on paper, before going to the shop. I think I got that way from finding too many mistakes in published plans, or that the dimensions of the piece was not the size that I wanted to build. One plan comes to mind, the bow arm Morris chair, in the book by Robert Lang. If the measurements are right, the chair is not sized for someone even near 6’ tall. After doing a couple of cardboard cut outs for pieces in his plan, the chair seems to be made for a child.
So if you need an idea of how something is made, look at a plan, but I recommend making your own plan, incorporating the methods of work that you normally use, so that building it will be more familiar to you.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12436 posts in 4711 days

#7 posted 10-14-2012 08:57 PM

I concur with all who recommended Woodsmith and Shopnotes plans. Nice dado jig, BTW, Mike.
I would add Wood Mag's plans. I’ve used a few and have found them error free. However, in reading their magazine, I often see where they have offered corrections to a plan in a previous issue. I’m guessing the errors are made in transcription or printing because they build the project before offering the plans.
One more place to find error free plans, at least the one’s I’ve used, is the New Yankee Workshop store.

-- 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 HorizontalMike's profile


7933 posts in 4197 days

#8 posted 10-14-2012 11:29 PM

What I am attempting to do is have folks list a particular plan, THAT THEY ACTUALLY BUILT, that they found to be completely (or nearly so) perfect in their published plans and instructions.

ALL magazines and sources make mistakes. Some sources make mistakes more often than others. I get that. What SPECIFIC WW-Plan did you (those who use plans) find to ”fit” that perfect status? Post THAT plan here.

For those plans that are full of errors, please post about them on this link


-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 4076 days

#9 posted 10-16-2012 12:33 AM

Just built a workbench – “24 Hour Workbench” by Chris Schwartz of Popular Woodworking with no surprises. Simple, easy to follow instructions and drawings. I chose a different top but used their dimensions.
I have to add this – was in HD browsing last night. I saw a really cool push block on sale. It had a built in height gage on the rear end of the block. Got to looking at the steps and they were labeled – “1/2”, 7/8”, 3/4”, 5/8”.
Oops. I hung it back up.
Nice dado jig Mr. Horizontal.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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