Working With U-Bild Woodworking Plans
The funny thing about a hobby is that the more time spent at it, the less "amateur" the results. Good woodworkers are like accomplished cooks, gardeners or golfers—they spend a lot of time practicing, honing skills that will last a lifetime.
Many potential woodworkers are discouraged from ever picking up a tool because they fail to recognize this process. A vague sense of the overall project, no idea of where to begin and inevitably disappointing results are responsible for countless tools gathering dust in garages and basements everywhere.
The key to a successful start in woodworking is time, patience and a good set of woodworking plans. Although it's not always easy to find time and patience, a good set of woodworking plans is easy to spot.
Formatted to reinforce (or even set down) a solid foundation of good woodworking habits that skills may be built upon, a good set of woodworking plans is clear, concise and complete. These general characteristics are what guide the development of U-Bild woodworking plans.
A typical U-Bild woodworking plan features a clear photo of the finished woodworking project, complete step-by-step directions illustrated with photos, full-size traceable patterns, construction diagrams, and a shopping list and cutting schedule or layout. These components and the way they work together make it easy for even beginners to gain valuable skill, achieve great results and look forward to the next woodworking project.
A good, clear photograph of the finished woodworking project is the best place for any woodworking plan to start. Knowing exactly what the finished woodworking project looks like ensures that the builder is getting what he or she wants and, unlike a line drawing, a photo provides a strong reference point for construction and demonstrates that the woodworking project was actually built by the designer.
Once a project is selected, the next step is to acquire the necessary materials. To this end, U-Bild plans include a materials shopping list. The materials list includes quantities of the specific materials necessary to build the project as pictured. This makes it easy to shop for lumber, fasteners, hardware, finish or whatever else a project calls for. And with all supplies in place beforehand, it's much easier to maintain momentum and continuity in project construction. Preview of Kitchen Island (Plan No. 932) (PDF)
After the materials are assembled, the next step is to cut out the project's pieces. To this end, a cutting schedule provides dimensions and quantities for all of a project's wooden pieces. Some projects include a cutting layout, which is an actual diagram of how pieces fit on a sheet of plywood or other material. Used in conjunction with step-by-step instructions and traceable patterns, a cutting schedule or layout is a useful tool for getting organized before beginning a project.
When you're organized and ready to start building, the next step is to locate the step-by-step directions. This may seem obvious, but it isn't always the case with some woodworking plans. Some plans include large blocks of text that are hard to follow, and some don't include any written instructions at all. This makes it especially frustrating for beginners who don't already know where the logical starting and stopping points are.
The most effective directions break up the job into short, linear steps, eliminating anything unnecessary or confusing. U-Bild achieves an unmatched clarity of instruction by including step-by-step photos accompanied by concise written instructions. After all, everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when illustrating a precise written explanation.
The step-by-step instructions often refer to one of the most valuable features (especially for beginners) included on a typical U-Bild plan—full-size traceable patterns. Modeled after paper sewing patterns, full-size traceable patterns are incorporated into many designs, particularly those that include curved or angled cuts.
Traceable patterns give beginners the confidence needed to tackle what may appear to be a more advanced project. They also provide more advanced woodworkers with a time-saving short cut. Regardless of the skill level of the builder, the pattern is simply traced directly onto the wood and the piece is ready to cut out.
No matter how many pieces comprise a project, U-Bild's construction diagrams and isometric drawings make it clear where each piece belongs. Used in conjunction with the step-by-step instructions, isometric drawings and construction diagrams provide the overall view that pull the whole plan together.
Construction diagrams are especially valuable in illustrating particular details of joinery or sections of a project that aren't visible elsewhere. Isometrics give an "exploded" view of the entire project, showing the relationship between all of the pieces. Isometric drawings can save beginners common (and frustrating) mistakes such as trying to install a piece upside down or backwards.
A handsomely finished project that goes together the way it's supposed to is a reflection of the well-designed set of plans that give it form. Like the project, a good plan presents a unified whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
By integrating detailed, illustrated step-by-step directions, full-size traceable patterns, construction diagrams, isometric drawings and complete shopping lists and cutting schedules, U-Bild woodworking plans give woodworkers—especially beginners—a chance to get off to a good start in one of life's great pastimes.