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Thread: Buying plans or using magazine view

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Buying plans or using magazine view

    So i have been wanting to build a tool cabinet come tool chest call it all what you like fundamentally i want something to store my tools in such a manner that i can see them all and access them and each has its dedicated place with appropriate support to hold it in place. OK

    After much procrastination and loads of review of others images and options i decide time to get going.

    I settled on the Fine Woodworking Hanging tool cabinet from 2007 as the basic shell for the upper cab design. I will change the tools and how they hang but i am in my usually hurry up mode and since i have had the BB ply for some time (yeah Brent i beat you on this one i have had it for years) I wanted to get er done to get organized.

    Ok so Sat i end up pulling the trigger on the large to scale version of these plans at LV. LV to their credit stock a bunch of the Fine Woodworking plans. You can open the plastic ziplock and see what you getting so there is no issue with the plan package. I wanted to make a rapid start while the weather up hear was barmy and was 57F 14 celcius on the weekend.

    My main reason for buying the plans was to get the cutting list. ( yeah i figure the $14) for the cutting list was worth it i had everything else.

    BUT>>>>>>>>Up to then i will admit to not having done sufficient due dilligence on this plan. When i got into it man i got more and more mad with the guy that designed it. My cold war paranoia kicked in and i got to thinking this guy was commissioned to make this plan by the Baltic Birch manufacturers association. He used 3/4" 5/8" 1/2" and 1/4" . REALLY

    Ok so i get over it. Suck it up and work out that with a bit of modification i can do away with the 5/8" and substitute 1/2" but this begins the slippery slope of possible mistakes and heck why then did i buy the plan. Nothing yet that aint my fault for not examining it with a toothpick.

    Then i start laying out the cut list Sat night on square paper to look at yield on the sheet of ply. Well BB comes in 5x5 sheets. Yes occassionally you can get it in 4x8 but its common size is 5x5 in actual fact its the metric equivalent of this since a great deal of its produced internationally and imported.

    Well 5x5 is 60 inchs x 60 inches.

    So why would you design a cabinet ( where in true reality this is not to be a exact replica of some Smithsonian furniture design and so dimensions really become arbitary)

    where you need two panels for the case of the same thickness material in this case the front and back panels that fit into the rabbets on each face, and make the panel width 31 1/4" wide. . So now instead of being able to get to panels out of one sheet you gotta go and use two sheets if you want to stick to the exact dimensions.

    Well this got me mad. I have in mind to make two of these "boxes" one for hand tools and one for power tools (thanks Alan B for the idea) and mount them to rolling cabinets with very low profile draws for other things not suited to hanging and hardware.

    I dont doubt for one minute that Jan Zoltowski who has a 35 year career in woodworking has infinitely more woodworking skill than me, but unless he was paid off by the BB industry to make a plan that uses the maximum amount of this expensive plywood he certainly lacks what i would call common sense in my opinion.

    I mean this thing has box joints the length of the top pieces can be altered sufficiently to narrow the cabinet to have two pieces come out of one sheet and not affect the storage that much. (1.25" reduction plus width of blade doing the splitting) .

    I will get over it and make the mods and yeah i know if i went back to LV they would probably even give me my money back but i dont think its fair on them so i will suck up the loss and get over it.

    But i would like this post to serve as a warning to the rest of my woodworking friends to do proper due dillegence on a plan before you get to buying it. For the time i procrastinated and vasilated and then worked out the layout on scale paper for the cutting of the ply etc i could have rather sat at the computer got more experience at sketchup and be done with what i really would like. Heck i had drafting lessons at school and with Dave R around and his great video sketchup for this would have been a breeze and i could have shared it freely with anyone who cared to want to use it.

    So be warned. These guys in magazines aint so perfect afterall. I conclude most times the quick way is the long way and i keep trying to tell myself this but i dont seem to get my thick head to listen to it. Have a laugh on me cause i deserve a kick up the butt for this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    I have done both. Interestingly, the plans I bought were unintelligible and the items never got made. There are thousands of free plans out there. With diligent searching you can probably find what you need free.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thomasville, GA
    When I see an article for an item I think I'd like to build, I get the basic dimensions and re-draw it to suit me. In some cases, I've found that a minor adjustment of a dimension can save material - sometimes a lot of material. As simple example is a plan that calls for 12" wide rips from a 4x8 sheet, when a change to 11-7/8" will get four rips. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    i must agree with you rob in some cases our minds do make better use of the materials.. we are thinking ahead at what the sheet will give us and then alter from there.. plans dont think after the planner made them
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    I guess sometimes there is a trade off between the needs of a project and saving materials.

    For my garage cabinets, that hang on the wall, I needed to size them to fit these little plastic containers. That ended up not being the most efficient for materials, but more efficient for storage.

    That being said, they didn't require the use of the high dollar BB. But I did manage to salvage a lot of the cutoffs to use for building the shop drawers.

    The guys that make those plans are probably pulling material from the company storehouse, so efficiency of the cut may not matter, or they may have enough projects that they can reuse the cutoffs. And maybe they are trying to help out their advertisers?

    You would think they would make those plans keeping in mind who their customer base is though.

    I actually purchased a cutlist program recently to help me with just that problem.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    OK, not trying to be a wise guy here, but plans for a tool cabinet? A box on the wall with hinged sides? It's not like you're building a Victorian highboy or something. I'm like Bill...if I see something I want to build like that, I'll get a few basic dimensions and draw it to meet my needs/material/space.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I understand getting the plans to be able to more directly benefit from the details that would be covered. In the designer's defense, he probably just built a cabinet . . . the person who had to take that cabinet and reverse engineer the plans for it may or may not have taken dimensions from reality. For that mater the exact size would vary with what you are putting in the cabinet so, use the plans as a guideline for your own adaptation and have fun with it.

    You may not want yours that tall or your gallery may need to be smaller or double-high instead of drawers. As an example, my first knee-jerk response would be to use locking-rabbets in the corners instead of the finger joints. Its a plywood box. If you were going to make the case out of spruce, sure, go for dovetails or finger joints. On ply, I try to keep it simple. As to drawers, I would build a separate drawer unit to hang below (or support as a stand) the wall mounted box. Gives me more room for hanging or setting items. I would also probably have at least one panel area of pegboard (I know a lot of people hate it) for smaller tools as they change over time.

    Don't let the cut list rule you. If you made all the parts and then tried to assemble, you would probably run into variances anyway (or come up with a list of corrections to send FWW). Take all the good from the plans, tweak them to suit your needs and rock on
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    SE Minnesota
    Thank goodness, Rob! For a minute I thought you were talking about the plan for this cabinet.

    Box joints and Jan Z have nothing to do with this one, though.

    I agree that it makes good sense to check out a project and consider the availability of materials before you get committed to a design. Of course it's the same way for a project you design on your own, too. Maybe Mr. Z was given a pallet of BB ply or actually had larger sheets readily available to him in his area. I've redrawn a number of projects from various woodworking magazines and other sources and discovered errors in dimensions. It seems it has been a fairly common occurrence. When you consider how many of those dimensions are arrived at, it is not difficult to see that errors can creep in.

    For magazine articles, the editors have to go through whatever sort of drawings the author supplies and perhaps measure off of the already built project to get dimensions. Rarely do they manage to get a complete list of dimensions so they have to do the math to come up with the rest of them. Even small errors in measuring can multiply and cause big problems.

    One of the benefits I see for the plans I create is that I can make very precise models in which all the parts fit together correctly and then I can generate an accurate cut list from that. I can send the cutlist to my editor for checking. If I've been given the correct details for joinery and overall dimensions and I accurately place the components in the model, the cutlist must be correct. This is one of the reasons why I tend to harp on you guys about making clean and precisely drawn models. You're less likely to have errors that can creep into your projects if you make your models good.

    FWIW, if you choose to use plans that I've drawn and get the digital version, you'll also get the SketchUp model so you can make any changes you want to it to suit your needs. Then you can generate a new cutlist. There are also printed plans for most of the projects if you want full size patterns and so on.

    I think all of you folks are creative enough, though, to determine what you need and create your own plans to suit. And you all have the capability to do it and someone around to help you.

    Edit to add: As Glenn says, don't let the cutlist be your final guide. Even if it is totally accurate, if you make a slight error in cutting some parts, you could find that other parts don't fit and then bad words will come out of your mouth.
    Irony: The opposite of Wrinkly

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    Well 5x5 is 60 inchs x 60 inches.
    So why would you design a cabinet [...] where you need two panels for the case of the same thickness material in this case the front and back panels that fit into the rabbets on each face, and make the panel width 31 1/4" wide.
    Just as an aside... Been There, Done That.

    Five years ago I built a pair of dressers for my two older boys. I designed it in sketchup even, one of my earlier such projects. I had a design I liked, I was even following a bit of the golden rectangle with proportions. However... I didn't really work through all of the SECONDARY dimensions before I started building. I had the top, the sides, the width.... all of that worked out. But I had not really payed any attention to the details of the drawers. I know how to make basic drawer boxes, so I did not see the need to work them out in detail. As such I ended up with wide drawers which required bottoms which were .... 30-AND-A-HALF inches wide.

    I solved that by making the drawer bottoms out of two pieces (put a bit of hardwood strip down the middle) AND I made the second dresser about 1-2" narrower.

    But I would NEVER have sold plans requiring such. You guys know that I write the occasional article for Canadian Home Workshop magazine. I've even had the situation where I build a project for the magazine, and discover a mistake during the build. In that case I always would tweek the plans and partlist to reflect what I *should* have built, even if I can't change the project itself.

    have fun with the challenge, Rob!
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    Rob, I understand part of what you are frustrated about. I didn't lay it out or spend time manipulating it in my head but the gest of what I get from your dismay is not being able to split one sheet in half and get both sides from it. So knowing you are thinking of building two, does the first one use 1/2" more of one side? If so, could the second cabinet use the cutoffs and be a shade smaller/narrower and use the rest of your materials?

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!


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