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Furniture Design with Scale Model Prototypes

Posted on August 22nd, by Andy Brownell in Design, Gorilla Glue, Projects. 1 Comment

scale model prototype material

After the huge wood sale this past weekend, I’ve accumulated enough lumber for the next few years of projects. It’s been close to a month since I made some sawdust but I’ve finally begun the design process on my next project. It’s a commissioned outdoor bench made from teak, so every cut counts. Much like the last project, I’m doing only very rough sketches and moving into building a scale model prototype. Scale models make it easier for me to think through the various angles and dimensions in a way my rudimentary drawings don’t allow. Plus, with only a small amount of effort, you end up with something that’s a pretty interesting piece by itself. I like the 1:6 scale for prototyping because the common full size lumber dimensions translate into miniature pieces that are still relatively easy to work with.

There’s no need to actually create the joinery elements to hold the smaller version together. Instead I’ll use a small pin nailer and some Gorilla glue. My goal isn’t to produce an exact replica of the final piece, but get a sense for proportions, angles and a few critical details that will make the design unique. In all probability, I’ll also create a full scale plywood mock-up of the slightly concave seat to ensure it feels good.

I was able to sneak down to the workshop for about an hour last night to begin the next 1:6 scale prototype. Aside from a rough sketch, I milled up some wood to the approximate scale thicknesses that I’ll have in the teak (2 3/8″, 1 7/8″, 1 1/2″, and 3/4″ stock). It was great to be covered in fresh-cut wood chips. The scale model pieces are also a similar color to teak, made from some left over Niangon pieces from a previous project. I’ve got a few additional elements I may be integrating in the design including some stone. For all of the major joinery elements, I plan on using draw bore pegs to ensure a long life outside. Once I get the scale model complete and approved by my client, I’ll begin to work with the teak (my first foray into using this material). My hope is to have enough progress on this in time for some live joinery demos at Woodworking in America from October 18-20 at the Gorilla Glue booth.

One thought on “Furniture Design with Scale Model Prototypes

  1. Looks cool Andy. I’ve never scaled any of my stuff but you make it sound easy so I’m interested to see how it turns out. If it’s ready for WIA I’ll stop over and take a look.

    Also, did you take any formal training in drawing? I’ve been trying to work on the design aspect of the craft and I need some knowledge on improving my drawing skills. Any suggestions?

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