Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 2
January 2007
 
Building from a Plan
 

Have you ever found the ideal project to build, but felt you didnít have the equipment or skills needed to complete it?

You can easily overcome this problem and tackle any project by looking at the plan as a succession of little steps that combine technique with tools in an orderly and planned process.

By breaking down these steps into their component parts, you can identify what you canít do (because you lack either the tools or the skill) and find better ways to do what you can. In addition to doing things you thought were impossible, you will find new ways to complete the project.

Itís likely that the author or designer of the plan built the project using his or her own set of tools and skills and may have even built more than one before creating the plan. This gave the designer the chance to test and then modify ideas.

Unfortunately, the article or plan is designed with a specific set of tools, equipment and skills in mind. However, just because you lack one or more of these elements, doesnít mean you canít make the project.

Perhaps the most important part of working from a plan is ensuring you can make each part with the tools you own. Does it call for bandsawing stock 8Ē thick, likely two full inches thicker than your equipment can handle? Does it assume you have a mortising machine or lots of time for detailed handwork? If you have neither the tools nor the time, you need to rework the process.

Before abandoning the project and deeming it impossible, remember that there is more than one way to do almost anything. Take a good look at your tools and the finished product pictured in the plan. If it canít be done the standard way, rework the process to make it work for you.

For the plan that calls for bandsawing stock 8Ē thick, what happens if you make the piece 6Ē thick? If it is only cosmetic, great, and if it means changing some other dimensions, then go ahead if it still works. If neither is appropriate, cut two 4Ē pieces and glue them together to give you the full 8Ē piece the plan calls for. You would have sanded the bandsaw marks off anyway, so the extra sanding because of the glue joint wonít cause much extra work. To make this lack of equipment look like a design element, glue a contrasting veneer between the two 4Ē pieces.

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