I’m working on a design for a sitting bench for my house (and profile). I want to get this done quickly for a deadline coming up in a couple of weeks. However, the design process cannot be rushed and although I thought I had it nailed down, I’ve found my designs aren’t quite right yet and so I need to continue. This is a great thing, to take the time to come up with a design that I truly love and want to spend hours building just right.
I start with some sketches on paper, doodling ideas. A design element is a circle with a line through it (watch the video above to learn more!). Just a bunch of things, whatever pops up. I take a lot of time turning over a 3d model in my head as I sketch – it’s much faster for me than trying to draw in 3d.
When I have something I think is pretty good and wanted to visualize in 3d, I move to Google Sketchup.
My first design is sort of modeled on those benches you see everywhere with a thick top and two “squares” as the legs. Pretty nice, modern and clean. I went with curved legs at the end. I was thinking bent lamination, but the curve is pretty mild and I could get away with bandsawing the stock. I like this design a lot, though I think it needs more work.
The reason I’m not going to pursue this idea now is that I’ve actually gone ahead and purchased some stock for this bench. I thought I’d have a design ready and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out Artisan Lumber (hey, Tommy Mac uses them!). These guys have awesome stuff and are located just down the street from me. It was a ton of fun getting to see around the yard and the stock they have.
I ended up with a piece of butternut that is 6/4, 20″ wide by 11′ long. It’s gorgeous. Has some knots and inclusions that I may use or not, we’ll see. However, the 6/4 thickness really doesn’t look as nice in my initial design due to thickness of the top – going thinner hurts it over. I don’t want to build up the edge or something – so I’m going to keep working designs.
My next design looks totally different, but uses the same design element. I like this one a lot, the mass of the legs and overall dimensions. It’s very rough at this time – I just put together a few building blocks in Sketchup quickly.
I’ll continue to sketch, review what I have, model in Sketchup and think about the piece of lumber in my basement! In the meantime, I’m going to get some other work done and give the design process its due.