How do You Figure out What They Want?

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 12-20-2014 07:41 PM 1630 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3599 posts in 3504 days

12-20-2014 07:41 PM

The wife has put our plastic coated, cheap 1980’s coffee table on the Face Book Swap and Shop pages we belong to.
She not only doesn’t like it, she hates it and has definite ideas of what she wants.

The problem is, she want’s it shorter…. it is 48”. I asked if she wanted it 30” 32” 36” 40” etc…... even holding a tape measure across the table didn’t help.

She wants it with the same height, but different legs. When pressed for any kind of style for legs or even shape, she had no idea. I really don’t want to make 18 or 40 sets of different legs.

She wants it the same width, maybe an inch narrower, or wait, maybe 2 inches narrower, possibly.

She want rounded corners, but “Not Too Rounded”.

She wants something light, but Cherry or Walnut might be nice.

I can design all day long on something like this but without any solid idea this may turn into a massacre!

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

35 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5953 posts in 3368 days

#1 posted 12-20-2014 07:50 PM

Hah, that is funny. Make it out of particle board that way you won’t feel bad about throwing it out, when she says the round corners are too round. I would suggest perhaps having her look at pictures and have her tell you what elements are appealing.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7142 posts in 4211 days

#2 posted 12-20-2014 07:54 PM

Women…..I wonder sometimes how we live with ‘em….But then we can’t live w/o them, either…We’re stuck in a loop hole…..They think the same about us, so it’s a crap shoot…..!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View bigblockyeti's profile


7102 posts in 2737 days

#3 posted 12-20-2014 08:01 PM

It sounds like you need to make a transformer.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 3062 days

#4 posted 12-20-2014 08:21 PM

Simple, every project you build will be a prototype. And with every project, you’ll need a new tools to pull off her design requests. What works for me, is sending my wife pictures of other projects on this site helps. I’m trying to figure out a coffee table design that works for us. In a lot of cases, sending photos also helps me visualize what I will be building. I promise that we’ll settle on something that we are OK with after 2 more prototypes.

To be fair, it’s not unique to women, but people who don’t have a frame or reference to describe what they are looking for. I work in a field where men tend to be better at defining the “requirements” of what they are looking for. The more analogies you can give, the more likely you’ll see eye to eye.

-- paxorion

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3504 days

#5 posted 12-20-2014 08:56 PM

paxorion, I have sent her probably 100 pictures, we have looked at furniture stores in person and online. I have sent her pictures of projects here.

I am afraid to build out of mdf or particle board…. she won’t see the choices of colors or wood we could use.

Seriously, when we were designing the motor home we were turning the bus into I had to rebuild a lot of things 2 or 3 times before she accepted them and for the right reasons. (You can’t put a 5’ ceiling fan in a motor home).
She has a serious problem of seeing a finished product, even with things like a maze on line. I can usually tell her where the entrance and exit are within about 3 minutes. She cannot see the moves at all.
Oh, and don’t ask her to play chess….. She thinks she is Boris Spassky. Closer to Leo Spazoid

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

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4248 days

#6 posted 12-20-2014 08:59 PM

Put her on an internet search and tell her to find what she wants, :-) That is what my wife does.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Rob's profile


320 posts in 4003 days

#7 posted 12-20-2014 09:06 PM

When I get those types of responses from my wife, I just say….Well let me know when you’ve decided on exactly what you would like and I’ll be happy to make it for you. There’s no way I would make prototype after prototype, hour after hour just to make another one. I figure until she knows what she really wants and explains it to me, she doesn’t really want it all that badly.

View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3859 days

#8 posted 12-20-2014 09:10 PM


I think I remember you saying all the good things she does to help you, like hold the guide wire? Sounds like she knows And you know what she doesn’t like. Models may be a solution, and you do have a feel for her preferences after all these years? LOL!

I’m thinking color matching to the room it will be in, and you have functional aspects?

Sounds like a challenge?

I know you like challenges!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3859 days

#9 posted 12-20-2014 09:11 PM

Hope you’re feeling better.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 4084 days

#10 posted 12-20-2014 10:43 PM

It’s a story as old as time itself.

How do we know what they want? We don’t, of course.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4325 days

#11 posted 12-20-2014 11:15 PM

Sounds like a great reason to spend a lot of time in the shop and let your wife know you are doing it to please her. Hah…!

View TheDane's profile


5940 posts in 4680 days

#12 posted 12-20-2014 11:48 PM

Same here.

She saw something in somebody’s kitchen last summer and wants to know if I could make one.

I can’t figure out what she is talking about, she can’t describe it, and neither of us can find anything on the internet that looks like it.

This has been going on for 6 months.

Maybe we are both nuts.

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

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1029 posts in 2592 days

#13 posted 12-20-2014 11:53 PM

get a big piece of cardboard cut it make it the max size you think she wants as the tabletop cut/draw the corner the way you think she wants (this is a template just a it to her and let her say I think this should be smaller,and the corners rounder,etc then do a few drawings on the other side of legs,is your furniture formal or contemporary, this way you both can get a Idea of what she’s thinking,and you haven’t killed a tree. you can also grab some different scrap pieces to show her different woods so she can go no this is too dark,this is too …

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3024 days

#14 posted 12-20-2014 11:54 PM

When I worked at the big orange box, one of my co-workers asked if I’d build his wife a coffee table. When I asked what she wanted all I could ever get from either of them was “Something nice”. Well, THAT gave me a lot to go on … NOT !

She also said she wanted something with “Squarish corners. Kinda rounded but not too round.” Another great descriptive answer to go by ! So this was what I came up with. Oak and poplar, used the Kreg system to attach the top to the frame. I “rounded” all the edges with my ROS and rubbed in 6 coats of Tung oil. She was thrilled with it.

(in my best Gomer Pyle voice) Sur-prise, sur-prise ! .




-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 3042 days

#15 posted 12-20-2014 11:57 PM

I quit worrying about it. I just roll with it and offer solutions as best I can. I’m actually glad she’s fussy about stuff. Makes me feel good that she is with me.

-- atta boy Clarence!

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