When I build a piece for a customer I show them the drawing and build it (mostly) to the print. But when I build a spec piece, such as this modern campaign chest, the customer is my eyeballs.
And so this is the part about design that doesn’t get talked about much: If something bugs you about a piece you’ve made, fix it or destroy it. I am happy to chop up a piece for firewood that didn’t deserve to see the light of day.
But in this case, the only thing that bothered me was the plinth. After living with the plinth for a week or so I knew I wasn’t happy with it because I kept sketching plinths.
What was I unhappy with? Its footprint was just a little small – about 2-3/4” too small. And it was a little too tall – by about 2”. So I built another one. And another.
The other thing I fixed is that I wanted the chest to be more portable, much like a traditional campaign chest. Ideally the base should disassemble and fit in one of the drawers.
The base shown above does just that. The four tapered octagonal legs are friction-fit into two 1-3/8” x 3” x 36” strips of wood screwed the underside of the lower case. I wanted to thread and tap these joints but I was trying to keep the project as simple as possible for a magazine audience.
I am now 100 percent happy with the piece and can walk away from it. Kids can draw on the drawer fronts with crayons. Customers can fill it with oats for their horses.
And that is how I deal with design work – care like crazy (a little too crazy) until I reach my goal. Then I’m done and ready to move onto the next project: a traditional ladder.
— Christopher Schwarz
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