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The Best Woodworking Plans

Feb 3, 2008
If you desire to make a gift or a special curio for your house in your home woodworking workshop, then a pattern might be right for you. You can download woodworking plans for free online, get them from specialty magazines, or purchase them at a hardware or home improvement store. Plans are ideal for the novice woodworker, because they take care of the details and remove a lot of the guessing from your project. Nothing kills a project faster than bad measurements, or not having the right tools for the job. A great woodworking plan or pattern will not only tell you exactly what you need to complete the project, but it will also provide all the measurements for the work and offer step by step instructions. But plans do not work just for the novice. An expert woodworker can innovate the plan, and personalize it for his or her own use. For example, a chest with three doors in the plan can be transformed into a chest with five doors in the hands of a capable woodworker. Yes, plans are for everyone, and here is what you can look for when selecting one that is right for you.

Plans are usually graded by difficulty level. If you are a beginner, be sure to be humble and select a plan made for beginners. You do not want to lose confidence by failing at an expert project. It is better to start small and simple with something like a birdhouse or a little jewelry box, rather than leap into a complex design. Once you have gauged that the difficulty level suits you, then inspect the plan for details. Does the plan tell you what tools you will need for the job? You do not want to obtain a plan that requires a table saw when you do not own one, or a drill bit that you lack. If you are a beginner craftsman with a sparsely populated woodshop, you want to forego the plans that require jigs and mitre cuts. You do not want to invest in hundreds of dollars of machinery for one project. The best DIY projects require basic tools and machinery that you already own.

Next, notice if the plan is written in your language, and if not, decide if the picture diagrams are clear and easy enough to follow? We have all experienced the frustration of trying to put a Swedish piece of furniture together using the foreign, do-it-yourself booklet that comes with the pieces. Be sure that you will be able to follow the directions before you purchase or download the plan. Woodworking plans tend to be surprisingly easy to follow, especially if you have struggled with one of those "some assembly required" projects in the past.

Lastly, make sure that the plan offers explicit measurements. You do not want to be stuck with drawers that are bigger than the cabinets they are made for. If you are sure that all these factors are present in your ideal project, then go ahead and get the plan and start working. Your task from here on out should be easy.
About the Author
Kurt Schefken writes articles essentially for http://www.insidewoodworking.com , a website on furniture projects and machinery. His publications on woodworking plans are published on http://www.insidewoodworking.com/projectsplanspatterns/index.html.
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