In no particular order...
(i) CONSISTENCY: Make sure your piece is consistent. Don't mix lots of materials. Keep your palette simple. Try to keep to the idea of your piece.
(ii) BALANCE: Ensure that the components of your piece are balanced in scale & proportion. For example a table with 100 mm thick legs and a 12 mm thick top will just look odd.
(iii) LONGEVITY: Design a piece for strength, longevity, and the worst case scenario. Imagine someone standing on your coffee table, or stepping on the bottom shelf of a cabinet to reach something. Use good joinery techniques, and quality materials.
(iv) ONE IDEA: Have one idea per piece. Try to stick to a style. It's very difficult to pull off a mid-century modern, rustic, traditional, minimalist dining table! What would that even look like?!
(v) SIMPLIFY: Simplify everything. Materials, components, ideas. Strip away anything that isn't needed until you have the purest piece possible.
(vi) EFFICIENCY: Design your piece to be made simply, quickly, and efficiently.
(vii) IGNORE: Ignore any or all of these principles and have fun! It's just woodworking. :)
Today's post is short & sweet.
When designing anything, whether it's buildings, furniture- or even cars, consumer goods or fashion items, your choice of material is critical to your design. I choose to design and make with wood for a number of reasons. The main one is that wood is magical :)
I believe there's an innate connection in all of us with wood. It's hard to resist rubbing it, running your hands over the grain, and gulping in the unique smell. In recent times we've embraced other materials such as plastic in a flawed way. Basically, a material that has been designed to last forever is used in instances where it is instantly thrown away. But the properties of wood are almost magical. A wooden piece treated with respect and care can last centuries. On the other hand, if wood is left to the elements it will weather and disintegrate, naturally degrading back into the earth from where it came. There is no doubt that this is truly special.
Everything ever made was designed. If you nailed together some scrap pieces of wood to make a shelf -you designed it. Woodworkers are designers but many don't realise it, or give themselves enough credit. It takes skill and creativity to imagine something and then to make it physically. But like all skills, creativity and imagination can be improved upon. If you're a woodworker, don't underestimate your design skills. If you just jump in and start making with an idea in your head, try sketching first. If you already sketch try technical drawing. If you can use a t-square and set squares to produce technical drawings you are well on your way to being able to use 2D/3D CAD software and eventually producing photo-real renders. I'm not saying you need to be able to do all these things to consider yourself a good woodwork designer. But being able to avail of all the tools available to you will help you explore your ideas further. You will be able to constantly develop your ideas before you even open the door of your woodshop. This will lead to better designs and better finished pieces. Not to mention happier clients, and a happier you!
Hi. I'm Dónal. I'm a furniture maker, carpenter, and woodworker. This blog is a way for me to share my work plus some of my thoughts on woodworking in general.
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