See Like a Designer

Look for the ‘bones’ to observe how form defines design. It happens during almost every furniture design workshop. At the start of day two, a carload of students shows up 20 minutes late. One [...]

Designing With Curves

Getting off the straight path can be liberating. I can see it with my eyes shut: a curving stretch of highway snaking past Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park. Each twist in the road opens up a [...]

Sketching Strategies

As with woodworking skills, design and drawing skills take practice. For many woodworkers, design seems like a leap into the unknown. It’s one thing to teach our hands to saw to a curved line; [...]

Plans vs Proportions

Adapt a furniture plan with your eye. I think of plans as sort of a roadmap. They were a big part of my early work as a machinist and later as a woodworker. We had an unwritten rule in the …

Drawing Strategies for Design

It will take more than one drawing to get it right – and that’s OK. My best days in the woodshop are with my 4-year-old grandson, Seth. He’s just tall enough to see over the benchtop and quick to [...]

Federal Furniture

Years ago I discovered Federal furniture and knew that with beautiful veneer, superb inlay and simple carving, this would be my furniture period of choice. Federal furniture has much to offer [...]

Mastery Through Repetition

Practice is the best of all instructors. Maynard lived next door. When he wasn’t spinning wrenches at the local Ford garage, he was out in his driveway, hunched over a neighbor’s car. As a kid I [...]

Ideas that Jump Off the Page

Isometric views help keep your designs grounded. The kite leapt into the wind and I frantically uncoiled string that burned and chafed my hands and fingers. The thin wooden crossbeams bent almost [...]

Design by Touch

While design is dominated by the eye, the hand plays an important role. Most of what I’ve written about design has focused on how we look at it. Yet good design often has multiple layers that [...]

Artisan Geometry

The universal and timeless structure of our imaginations. Woodworking spans the globe and is a common thread linking humans across the ages. This craft shares a basic tool kit across time and [...]

Making Sense of Forms

Early 20th-century filmmakers used time-lapse photography to dazzle audiences with never-before-seen images of flowers emerging and bursting into bloom. Critics with Victorian sensibilities [...]

Secrets of the Cyma Curve

Invisible lines and circles explain the beauty of a series of fair curves. I can still remember Holloway’s farmhouse. Even in summer when the fireplace was cold, the smell of wood smoke lingered [...]

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