A Discerning Eye
Master Cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) recommended that cabinetmakers learn drafting so that they could “shew…the Conduct and Effect of the Piece.” I haven’t found my drafting abilities particularly helpful as a cabinetmaker. What has helped is sketching. I bring my camera when I visit museums, but I also bring a pencil and a note pad (ask to make sure its okay in advance). I may not draw an entire piece- in fact I never do. I draw little details that strike my fancy. When your place pencil to paper, you must decide where each line starts and stops. A faithful rendering requires the various proportions and relationships to be correct. Even if you stink as an artist, drawing requires that you look carefully. So it’s a helpful way to get to know a piece better. Drawing encourages you to develop the skill of analyzing shapes and seeing relationships between features. This is a skill every woodworker needs. I recommend developing this skill with pencil and paper instead of Cuban mahogany.