Woodwork Tools Blog



Woodworking Plans – A Fundamental Woodworking Tool!

A project manager I worked with at one stage used to have “PPPPP” written at the top of each page of her project plan. I queried her on what it meant one day, and she just looked at me and said “Proper Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Peformance”. I am reminded of that often when I make a mistake in my workshop (and yes, it happens more often that it should). The number of times that I have been reminded of that is one of the reasons that I consider a great set of woodworking plans to be a fundamental woodwork tool (albeit one that is often overlooked by beginning and experienced woodworkers alike)!

If you asked a thousand woodworkers about their tools, I would bet there would be very few of them that would mention a set of plans amongst their most important, yet in my experience, a good set of woodworking plans can be the difference between a successful project, and some kindling for the fire!

It is my opinion that the importance of woodwork plans can be overstated. Whilst plans may seem like an unnecessary added cost for a project, in general you will find that this is far from the case, and that they can actually save you money, not to mention plenty of time.

So, some questions for you:

  • Have you ever found yourself half way through a project, and then realized you don’t have the enough timber left to complete it (or possibly worse, that you have paid good money for more timber than you need)?
  • Have you found yourself having to re-make components of your job as a result of putting a cut in the wrong location, or on the wrong side?
  • Have you ever gone to assemble your project, only to establish that one of the pieces you have cut is the wrong size?
  • Have you ever found yourself making multiple trips to your local store to get a few things that you didn’t realize you would need?

If you answered “Yes” to any (or all) of the above, then you probably need to consider working from some good quality woodworking plans, or at least start planning your work a little more carefully.

Having a good set of plans does not necessarily mean that you need to go out and buy them. There are a large number of free plans (of varying quality) available on the web, or in books and magazines. Your local library can be a great resource for some of these, and is well worth checking out.

Many woodworkers are also making use of Google Sketchup or other similar software design tools to make their own plans. I have had a bit of a play with Sketchup, but so far I haven’t invested the time necessary to make myself proficient at using it – mainly because I prefer to put that time into actually getting into my workshop!

When looking to purchase plans, there are a number of things that you MUST look out for:

  • good quality photos/drawings of the finished product (always great to know what you’re working towards)
  • a cutting list that includes all components
  • clear, easy to follow instructions
  • good diagrams, photos (or videos) that guide you through any particularly difficult or confusing steps
  • a full list of tools that are required for the successful completion of the project (nothing worse than getting half way through, then realizing you are expected to own a $500 woodwork tool in order to complete it successfully!)

If you are looking to buy plans, one of the best resources I have found on the web is available from Ted’s Woodworking (disclosure, that is an affiliate link, and I will make a small commission if you check those out and end up purchasing after agreeing that they are incredible value!). With over 16,000 incredibly detailed, high quality woodworking plans (and lifetime access to any of the new plans that are added on a regular basis), I challenge you to have a look at those, and not be inspired to spend a bit of time in your workshop! You don’t even have to take my word for it – if you buy the plans, and don’t like them, they have an unconditional money back guarantee (within the first 60 days I believe, but I’m pretty confident you will be awestruck by the incredible quality of these plans, and won’t even be thinking about getting your money back!).
Teds Woodworking Plans and Projects

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