1. Member
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Jan 2012
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Bumpass, VA
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Figuring Dimensions

I have been asked to see if I can reproduce, or come close to reproducing a cabinet that somebody I go to church with saw in a magazine. The cabinet itself doesn't look too difficult and pretty straight forward construction. Fortunately the magazine included the overall dimensions of the cabinet. I remember reading somewhere, and I don't recall exactly where, about a process where you can take pictures with a few base measurements figure out what the other dimensions of the project are, such as drawer size, rail and style width, etc.

The person requesting this has a large stack of Walnut her father had cut and dried before he passed and would like it used. Her concern is that there is not enough wood to turn into this cabinet. I have not yet seen the pile as it's currently in West Virginia. The plan at the moment is for me to try and figure out how much wood I would need and if they have enough before transporting it back to Virginia. I've showed her to calculate the board feet and she has a good grasp on it, but now I have to figure out how much I'll actually need.

2. take your existing dimensions and figure the square footage of area, dont worry about drawer width and such, get total and then add 50% that should get you close,, use what they have and buy the remainder from a local supplier if need be.. dont forget the inner parts , and they can be just junk wood or cheaper stuff..if they are not seen.

3. Larry has it pegged for estimating the necessary materials overall.

As to specific dimensions, since you have the basic overall dimensions of the cabinet, individual parts can be estimated as a percentage of any dimension. For instance, if the width is given as 30" and the photo measures 2" wide, take the stile, drawer fronts, etc., as a percentage of the photo width, then apply that percentage of the finished width. Same thing holds true for all other dimensions.

Edit: I have found that process to be easier in many cases by using metric measurements to determine the percentages. Then, do the multiplication up to the full size and convert back to inches.
Last edited by Bill Arnold; 08-11-2014 at 02:40 PM. Reason: Add note about metric

4. Also probably figure higher than usual loss on home cut lumber. If you're lucky it won't be as problem but experience says...

5. I've done this sort of thing numerous times by importing the image into SketchUp. It's usually pretty easy to figure out the main dimensions and from there, determine the rest or make them up based on standard or commonly used dimensions. If you need to figure out how much lumber it'll take, a 3D model can make that a simple thing, too. This cabinet was based on a couple of photos and the overall dimensions.

6. ^^^^^
Ditto what Dave said. I've used that process as well. It assumes, of course, that you have a working knowledge of SketchUp. If so, it's a great way to get from A to B.

7. Fine Woodworking #170 has an article on scaling furniture from photos. Might be worth a trip to the library.

8. Member
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Jan 2012
Location
Bumpass, VA
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35
Thanks for all the help, Not knowing what the wood looked like, I was already planning on at least doubling my waste factor just in case. Larry's suggestion will work for now to figure out if they have enough and what it could cost if they don't. I have some knowledge of sketchup, but haven't messed with importing photos, might be time to learn.

9. Allen, if you need help with it, I can help.

I used the method again this morning for a morning practice drawing.

10. Member
Join Date
Jan 2012
Location
Bumpass, VA
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35
Originally Posted by Dave Richards
Allen, if you need help with it, I can help.
Thanks Dave, I'll keep you in mind when I get to that point. I've got plenty of time, my shop is complete disaster right now while the new one is being built. I'm not even planning on starting construction of the cabinet till after Christmas.

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