Evaluating and Using Woodworking Plans

woodworking plans and productA set of woodworking plans is a road map to help you build a particular project.  To find your best plans, you will match the plan to your woodworking skill level.

Some plans are little more than a measured drawing and material list.  These are great for experienced woodworkers who know how to make the parts and assemble them, but will be baffling to less experienced woodworkers.  Plans with step-by-step instructions for parts making are better for intermediate and some beginner woodworkers.  A plan set that goes into great detail about how to set up the tools to make each part, and explains any tricky bits in assembly, is a great learning experience for the beginner — and a great bore to the experienced woodworker who will zip through the instruction looking just for dimension and detail information.

Many plan producers offer a sneak peek at their plans — or at least an example plan — to show how much detail they offer and how the information is laid out.  Use these to decide if their plans are sufficient for your skill level, and if they are clear in their instruction.

Once you have your plan, read it through carefully before you cut any wood.  Acquire all the hardware (to make sure it is available) before you start.  Build the project in your head to see if things progress logically and if there are any omissions or obvious errors.  Sometimes plans get updated and a change to one area affects another that does not get updated as it should.  If it seems confusing, seek clarification from the manufacturer if you’re not confident of your ability to adjust as needed.

Follow your road map, keep track of where you stopped on each leg of your journey so you don’t accidentally leave something out.  Take your time: enjoy yourself as you make the project and you’ll enjoy the completed project all the more.