Curious Question for Hobbyists: Do you make plans for your work?

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Forum topic by Todd posted 03-17-2014 11:12 PM 19047 views 0 times favorited 104 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Todd's profile


421 posts in 3132 days

03-17-2014 11:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I ask only out of curiosity. I plan out my projects very carefully usually recording my basic plans on graph paper. Then my spare mental cycles are obsessed with construction techniques and sequencing. Usually when I head out to my shop I have already hyper-analyzed my next steps so I don’t often find myself in a pickle. If I do it’s usually an equipment issue.

I tried using Sketchup. It is a great tool but I wanted to be out in my shop more than learning the tool. I pick things up pretty quick, but I’m an engineer and am on my computer at work a lot. I’d rather be making sawdust in my spare time.

What about you guys/gals?

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

104 replies so far

View bandit571's profile


31871 posts in 4139 days

#1 posted 03-17-2014 11:18 PM

Plans? PLANS? Hmm. IF you call a few notes on a small paper pad plans…

Mainly, mine are already done…in my head. My single brain cell ( that still works) has all the figures figured out. I sometimes sleep on a project, then it all becomes clear.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 3526 days

#2 posted 03-17-2014 11:18 PM

I do it all out of my head unless Im following a set of plans, which I almost always modify to suit my needs.

I draw things out more to (try) to show other people whats in my head. My drawing is not terrible but it is no where near the level of my woodworking. I get frustrated because it takes a long time and is difficult to express the beauty that I can see in my head, on paper with a pencil. On the other hand some people can draw things far more beautiful then I could ever build.

I will say that I can look at a piece of wood and look through time, and see what it could be. I am still learning how to see what it has been. Different cut types, growth rings, grain etc fascinate me.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3781 days

#3 posted 03-17-2014 11:39 PM

I do it in my head, take some notes on a piece of paper. I tried Sketchup but did not like it or interested in it, even if it’s a nice piece of free software. I had enough computer time in my life while I was a network engineer, so now it’s time for a moleskine and a pencil.

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 3399 days

#4 posted 03-17-2014 11:43 PM

I’ll draw up plans but not very detailed. Usually I’ll figure out the height, width and spacing of drawers, then wing the rest.


View NiteWalker's profile


2743 posts in 4033 days

#5 posted 03-17-2014 11:47 PM

Most of mine are done based on notes too.
I have a few dimensions I work the rest around usually; or sometimes things are based on materials at hand.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View jmartel's profile


9325 posts in 3606 days

#6 posted 03-17-2014 11:50 PM

I mostly work in sketchup or wing it. Sometimes a bit of both.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Grandpa's profile


3265 posts in 4131 days

#7 posted 03-17-2014 11:55 PM

Drawings usually save a lot of good wood. I worked in the engineering dept of a company so you are supposed to do those thing. I plan things in my head but if it is serious furniture I like to see it on paper. Things fit that way. I build things for my grandchildren and do it mostly out of my head. If you mess up there is little investment. I taught woodworking in our local technical school for adults in evenings…35 years ago. I can tell you that when you tell people to bring in a drawing of their project with basic dimensions, those that can’t read a print are handicapped. Then they can’t follow one (a drawing or their project) either. On the other hand when you are dealing with an electrical engineer, they think in 5 decimal places. They want a table saw that cuts angles at 37 degrees 22 minutes….things like that. Everyone has their differences and preferences.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 12:12 AM

If I’m doing a repair I do not use a plan, if I’m building something like a loft for my granddaughter (in process) I prepare a detailed but somewhat unorganized drawing using CAD.
I do this to record my work, interface field measurements and make no cost changes to my design details like wall brackets etc.
I already have the software and experience and speed so it’s more comfortable for me than wood working.
If I were starting out again I would definitely learn Sketchup.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3896 posts in 4894 days

#9 posted 03-18-2014 12:19 AM

My sequence
I think about it a lot
I draw it out roughly with dimensions
I think about it a lot more and refine it in my head (Lying awake at night is a good time for this).
I build it on the fly modifying when the plans in my head don’t quit work out.

I will be starting a murphy bed tomorrow. I have the kit and it comes with cut and assembly plans. I’ll use them so the thing will fit properly but I’m hating to. It’s like I’m building someone else’s thing. Not much fun.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View lateralus819's profile


2243 posts in 3345 days

#10 posted 03-18-2014 12:27 AM

I use sketchup. Usually just for a 3d view of what will work and wont as well as wood choice. i usually grab an image of a species from google and use it to add more realism. some things confuse me about the program but im learning. A project im about to start im actually drawing cuz its easier then sketchup.

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3223 days

#11 posted 03-18-2014 12:27 AM

I think about making something, go to the shop and let that thought guide me through. It is very difficult but rewarding to me.


View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3713 days

#12 posted 03-18-2014 12:35 AM

I tend to make a rough sketch of my project. It helps me reduce setup time and ensures consistency, e.g. I run all 3/4” pieces through the planer at the same time so I only need to dial in that thickness once and I know they are all the same even if they are all off by a 1/128th for some reason.

-- Art

View Woodmaster1's profile


1958 posts in 4043 days

#13 posted 03-18-2014 12:35 AM

I sketch it on graph paper with rough dimensions and make changes as I go. 95% of the time it works out ok.

View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 4450 days

#14 posted 03-18-2014 12:52 AM

By nature I hate to plan but I agree that a rough sketch is good. I get bogged down in Sketchup and use it mainly solve dimensional problems. Unless you can cut to perfect dimensions, a super precise design seems like wasted time to me.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


303 posts in 3079 days

#15 posted 03-18-2014 12:53 AM

It depends. For my rustic work using branches, drawings would be tough, so I work it out as I go along. Other projects using lumber, I usually draw it up in CAD… I’m working on the CAD layout for my new workshop right now.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

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