Keeping Projects Right-Sized

In the last issue of the eZine, Rob’s editorial mentioned a few projects he’s built that were, shall we say, on the large side. It seems that’s not a small problem in the woodworking world. – Editor

“When in college, I designed then built a beautiful walnut coffee table. It looked just the right size in the huge furniture design workshop where it was built, but in any residence I’ve lived in since it has remained too big to serve its intended role. Once it was a Christmas tree stand with plenty of room underneath for presents. Occasionally it held up large TVs. Thirty-five years later it has been banished to the storage room where it works well as a large shelf keeping large boxes off the floor.

“I now teach furniture design in that same college shop. To resolve the same (and common) tendency to oversize projects we have the students do a spatial mock-up. Using boxes or anything else on hand they fill up the same volume of space their intended design will occupy. They throw a blanket or sheet over it, then take a few photos of it in their apartments or homes. Invariably half will come back to class the next day shocked by how big their projects were and ready to shrink them down.

“Eventually they catch on that overall dimensions can come before sketches or drawings. When they measure the space it will go in first, no project ever ends up too big. I very much enjoy your newsletters. Keep up the great work.” – David Brown, Kansas State University.

We also still occasionally get Feedback on articles from previous issues. In this case, it’s a reader who takes a previous discussion about the “dwindling teak supply,” and makes it personal. – Editor

“It’s hard for me to believe, but my supply of teak is dwindling, too. About 25 years ago, I was a superintendent for a construction company in Cincinnati, who did work for the Gibson Greeting Card Company. The company was changing presidents, and the new one wanted his office remodeled. I met with the man outside the building.

“When he showed me the office, I almost fainted. Everything in the office was teak, including the door!. The walls were paneled with 4/4 T tongue-and-groove 6” wide boards. He said, ‘I want all this torn off and new drywall hung.’ Now drooling, I asked, ‘What do you want done with the old wood?’ He said, ‘I don’t care, put it in the dumpster!’ I asked if he minded if I took some home and he told me to take it all if I wanted!

“I hauled off as much as I could store in the basement of the house we were living in at the time. I made many, many projects out of that teak, mostly picture frames. Now alas, I only have about seven boards left.” – John Barnett

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