Friday, May 3, 2013

Method of Work

While I am away from the shop I have been thinking about the most efficient way of working when building case goods, beds, and things other than chairs. With Windsor chairs my process is pretty straight forward. Split the log, work the spindles to an octagon shape, shape the arm and bow (if building a Sack Back) and bend in the forms, then set to dry. Leg and stretcher billets are turned out of stock that was split and turned round to dry. While all parts dry, I carve the seat, and so on.

However, with things other than chairs, I usually put on paper my little sketch with some dimensions and into the shop I go. Man do I save time on the front end! I choose my material and I begin. I get the framework of the piece built and then build the details in accordance to what the newly constructed frame work calls for. Sounds fairly easy and straight forward does it not? Suffice it to say, things are not as they seem in my somewhat wonky mind.

With this method, I end up doing so many different machine set-ups it is unbelievable. As you can imagine this can result in minuscule discrepancies in measurement accuracy, which in turn leads to woodworker frustration, and results in me writing this blog post.

I have sought professional help for this malady and here is the advice I have received, as I heard it. Start with as accurate of a drawing as possible. Time to learn Sketch-Up! Develop a cut list, to prove the piece can be built and to purchase material. Take time and think about how to efficiently break down the material with minimal machine set-ups. THEN begin building! Build the carcass, dispose of the cut list, and finish with the remaining parts.

I hope I understand the advice I have been given but more importantly I must fight the urge to skip the prep work. I wonder if there is a support group out there?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ray - getting the cutlist and the initial layout (and therefore material planning) is easy using my sketchup plugin called Cutlist ( find it for free download here:

    As far as the advice about how to proceed on a large project, I actually advise exactly the same method whenever someone asks how best to use my plugin. Consider it the first tool you use - but like all tools you use at the beginning of the project ( axe, sawmill, hatchet ) - it's not a tool meant to have a lot of accuracy but to get you going in the right direction. It does not give you answers, but guidance. The scrub plane of the design.
    Good luck with the support group!