Designing Furniture From Scratch In SketchUpPart 2 - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Designing Furniture From Scratch In SketchUpPart 2

 In Projects, Questions And Answers, Shop Blog, Sketchup With Joe Zeh, Techniques

Last week we defined our bedside table in terms of functionality, features and style deciding which features we wanted to carry over from the bed and dressers in the set. We settled on overall dimensions, some of which depended on the specifics of the room where these tables would reside (recall the intake heating grate).

This week we are going to look at the bedside table from the front view and budget the top, draw, shelving and open area plus all the dividing structure. Then we will look at the side view and budget it. Once we have the front and side views budgeted we are ready to begin 3D modeling.

Coincidentally, an not by design, the ratio of the overall height of the table (32”) to the overall width (20 1/2”) is very close to the golden ratio:

32/20.5 = 1.5609…..

The golden ration is given by:

(1+ √5)/2 = 1.618….

Budget for Top, Cove Molding and RevealI am not a strict follower of the golden ratio; but when possible, or if by chance, I like to see things adhere to this shape. However, I don’t let it get in the way of a design when that design is driven by other criteria.

We will start budgeting from top to bottom. Referring to the model of the dresser the top will be 1” thick with a cove molding below which is 3/4” thick. Below that is a 3/4” spacer or reveal. So the top, trim and spacer is 2 1/2”. Click on picture at left to enlarge.

It would be possible to tone these dimensions down a bit since this is an end table and not a dresser. For example, the top could be 3/4” thick, the cove 1/2” and the spacer 1/2”. But I am going to leave it as is right now and see how it works out.

I would like two drawers if possible, but I would also like them to be deep enough for electronic gadgets, head phones, reading glasses, books or whatever you might want to put in a bedside end table. I am thinking 3 1/2” deep on the inside is about right. My drawers are always traditional designs so that means the opening must be 4 1/4” plus 1/8” clearance (see The Design & Construction of a Traditional Drawer and The Crafting of a Traditional Drawer).

Budget for Two DrawersFor two draws I need a 3/4” divider. So the total is 4 1/4” + 1/8” + 3/4” + 4 1/4” + 1/8” or 9 1/2”. Add to that 3/4” for the bottom drawer support and you get 10 1/4” to the top of the open space. See the updated budget at right.

You might ask where the 1/8” clearance came from. I make my drawer boxes with birch hardwood. A 4 1/4” wide piece of flat sawn birch will experience a total seasonal width change of approximately 5/64”; more than a 1/16” and less than a 1/8”. So I allow for 1/8” clearance.

Leg and Bottom Apron BudgetWhat budget is left for the open storage space, bottom apron and underneath space is 32” – 2 1/2” – 10 1/4” or 19 1/4”. I am going to refer back to the model of the dresser and look at its budget for the bottom apron and underneath space. The picture at left shows a budget of 8 1/2”. If I use this same budget for the bedside tables it will leave me an open storage space of 10 3/4”. That is more than enough for todays small combo stereo systems with a few books on the side. I am happy with this result, but if I wanted to tone dimensions down a bit I could get another 1/2” – 1” for the opening.

Front VIew in 2D with Overall BudgetThe picture at right shows the entire front view in 2D and the overall budget. The drawer fronts are 5” wide because they have a 5/16” overlay top and bottom. I gained 1” on the open storage space by narrowing the bottom rail from 4” to 3”. That allows for an 8 1/2” x 11” three ring binder to fit. Not shown in the picture at right but the reveal between drawers is 1/8” and above and below the drawers 7/16”. The sides and back will be tongue and groove slats just like the dressers and bed.

Side View of DresserThe picture at left is of the side of the dresser, but the side of the bedside tables will look the same but with different dimensions. I don’t need to draw the 2D model of the bedside tables; I can get all the information I need from the 2D drawings so far.

Next week I will begin 3D modeling starting with the legs and top. I am not sure whether I will model the legs from scratch or modify copies of the dresser legs. There are things to learn whichever way I do it. So tune in as this new piece comes to life in the form of a 3D model.

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