Friday, November 20, 2009

does this dress make me look fat?

Design questions can be doozies. How can a husband answer a question like that safely and without getting in very deep trouble? Actually knowing something about design might help. What if we were equipped to discuss design intelligently?

Much less risky on the social front, but demanding some design expertise are the questions my box making students ask me about mixing woods. Using more than one species of wood in a project is regarded as a bold statement involving some risk. Mixing species of woods for decorative effect was done in the furnishings for all the Kings Louis of France, so we know it can be an effective design technique. My students like what I've done using mixed woods in my own work but wonder, "What woods work well together and why? Are there combinations of wood that work and some that I should avoid?"

I was asked to write an article on this subject for Woodcraft Magazine that I hope to send off today, and the question of how to successfully mix woods in a project provides insight into the "principles and elements of design," the rules taught to graphic and 3 D designers in art schools. In other words, to know how to successfully mix woods offers insight that could lead any woodworker to become a better designer of things made of wood. More to come soon.

The photo above shows one of the simple forms of mixing species of wood, inlaying one contrasting wood in another. The secret of effectively mixing woods has to do with two seemingly conflicting design principles... contrast and unity. Contrast is an important goal of product design, and unity another. Want to know how they both work together? In the sample box in the photo above, you see the contrasting color and line of the spalted wood, and yet, you will see hints of similar brown. That similar brown is what pulls the inlay and surrounding box into a unified whole.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

two questions, two answers

First about hangers...
Hi Doug,I have all your books and video. I love them! I have one question, do you know where I find good gold/brass necklace hanger hooks?
I have been searching all over the net with no success. I really appreciate your help.
I make my own using 1/8" brass rod, fitted in holes drilled at about a 7 degree angle. You can also check at Rockler or woodcraft to see what they have available. I cut the 1/8" brass using the sled on the table saw and an old carbide blade. It gives a clean cut, but I polish the ends, first on the belt sander and then with a buffing wheel.

Next, how to market and price boxes...
Mr. Stowe, I am a recent retiree with just about a full woodworking shop and I have an interest in boxmaking. What I am wondering is how to market what I make. I don't have a customer base...or time to build one. I would greatly appreciate it if you could assist me. there a formula by which you price your work? Thanks
Make your boxes in reasonable numbers so you can keep track of expenses, time, marketing costs (including time)and overhead, and then divide by number. You price boxes the same way you would price anything else. But I'm curious, you don't have a customer base or time to build one, so in other words, you won't be selling any boxes? Customers don't appear by magic. You have to work for them. You will have to take time to present your work to them and refine it to meet their needs. It takes paying a great deal of attention to what customers need, want, and are willing to pay for. Other than providing a brief note of reality, I can't imagine how I might be able to help. Best of luck.