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Making Mock-ups

Sketch drawings reflect my gathering of thoughts. They may not exactly match my idea on paper but they will record that genesis and any discrepancy will be corrected as my brain fills in the blanks. It’s a bit like placing a ruler along the top or bottom half of a line of text and you discover you can still accurately read the sentence flawlessly with or without the different curlycues.

I use drawings in the same way I record or write down a sentence to capture a thought I want to expand on later. When I am at the bench my note pad is an offcut of wood , a shavings even. It makes it to my note pad and journals and are always kept as a record of shifts and changes I’ve made along the way. You see, just the same way a passage you are writing can change potency when you stray from an original thought, so too a design. Sketches seem somehow to capture changes, they have the ability to encapsulate and protect original intent. In my view that’s important. It doesn’t mean change cannot take place or even be welcomed, just that the evolving process ensures a projects success. As an instance I may have an idea for shapes but when I come to the joining of components the materials may not allow the initial thoughts surrounding the joinery. because it’s impractical for one good reason or another. Something may well need to shift and I may need to change an angle or a component size or the very joint I thought might work altogether. An intersection may look as I want it to look, but then inside I may change a halving joint to a sliding dovetail to make it happen. From the outside the intersection looks identical, but the inside of the jointed area is absolutely different.

Is lamination a good idea or will solid wood wood outlast lamination? Good question and in the age of increased fashion and consumerism we face other decisions we must make because people wear disposable throwaway clothing for the sake of fashion and then protest other developments they once embraced like for instance fleece jackets and plastic straws. These culture shifts affect our thought processes all the more and balance is often difficult to find without the scales by which to measure decisions by. Whereas cutting solid wood may seem the longer-lasting option, it also translates into weak points that are likely to split under excess pressure cause by dropping or adverse handling. In the case of this project solid wood is an easy option and the joinery is ready to go once the arching is cut. The problem area is at the foot where the toe has contact with the floor. Band-sawing the curves is of course instant but then I like the multi-lined look of lamination incorporated as part of my design. To keep or not to keep?

So we now see that mock-ups give is a solid. Something so solid we can consider it when it’s placed in the room. Shape, proportion and size alone can be seen visually and considered initially for this purpose but then we must investigate the inner options we have to play with – the joinery. This happens mainly when we stray from the rectilinear standards where 90-degree corners and intersections would typically come from the more general three-joint-choice-standard of mortise and tenon, housing dado and dovetail. In general these joints almost always rely on square shoulder lines abutting into stiles, posts and panel sides of one kind or another. Straying from such norms demands that we rethink our option and when we think of using lamination as a process to achieve our objective we must truly go to the drawing board to invent possibly what has not yet been invented.


  1. Bill Draper III on 21 September 2019 at 4:04 pm

    You are artistic. Not only in your drawing but in your woodwork.

    My drawing is crude but the wooden things I make are ok. Not artistic

  2. Sylvain on 21 September 2019 at 4:49 pm

    I like the prototype which shown in the previous post and which appears in cardboard here above.
    As I have no band-saw, I would have to use a frame saw with a narrow blade. Something I have never tried yet (although I have find such a saw on a flea market). Tips and tricks about using such a saw would be welcome.

    About tricks, if one google “Handhyvlade svängda profiler – ett gästhantverkarprojekt” one will find a nice video. Between about 13’00” and 15’22” there is a nice trick to avoid wasting wood when making arched pieces (not in plywood).
    I see in this video that, for big radius cut, one does not need a really narrow blade.

    Lamination would of course provide insurance against splitting along the grain but it would be much more work without a band-saw.
    Half housing the crossing parts is only a small marking challenge once one has figured out the angle. If the angle is not precisely what was intended, one can always make the top a little wider or narrower.

  3. Shane Patrick White on 23 September 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Paul,

    What’s cardboard stuff called you used for the mock-up?
    I’ve been building stuff in 3D to help me understand the amount of wood and type of construction I’m dealing with but I’d really like to have a full-size mockup, too.

    Thanks again for sharing.


    P.S. I got your book on Essential Tools and I’m loving it!

    • Paul Sellers on 24 September 2019 at 8:58 am

      These are made up from cardboard pallets, Shane.

  4. Wouter Mense on 24 September 2019 at 5:59 am

    Hi Shane,

    That’s honeycomb cardboard.

    Coincidentally that’s exactly what some Ikea furniture looks like on the inside. Take a big chunk of this honeycomb cardboard, frame it with some particle board, “veneer” it with wood grain printed papers, and you got yourself a table.

    Where Paul above talks about disposable fashion or fast fashion as I know it, this is exactly the same thing. Fast furniture. Instead of a wooden table lasting you a hundred years, this will do 5 at best. Instead of using a bit of sandpaper to smooth over a scratch, you just replace the table because it’s completely non-repairable.

    As a young student starting to live on my own, I needed furniture, but was either unaware of the local thrift stores or too proud to buy second hand. I saw an Ikea on my way into town. The rest is history. Now just a couple years later some of that furniture is stretched to the max. Painted over to cover up blemishes. One after the other furniture pieces get disposed of, having become unstable and unusable. Some of it I “reverse engineer” just to see what they did before putting it with the trash.

    The discovery of honeycomb cardboard furniture 😀

    – end of rant –

  5. Sylvain on 24 September 2019 at 8:38 am

    Cardboard furniture:
    Look for the “destructively testing a cheap table” video by Matthias Wandel on

  6. Andy, Warrington on 25 September 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Nice pseudo 3D drawing. Or should I say 4D? – there is a time element in looking up, at and down onto the box. I think we are getting a privileged view inside your mind.

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