Lessons From A Delivery Guy: Planning
Part two in our series on how to build durable furniture that will stand the test of time… and the trip to the client’s house: Lessons From A Delivery Guy.
Since delivery is part of the process that starts when you first envision a project, it pays to anticipate problems at the planning stage. We’ve all heard about the guy who built a piece that was too big to leave his shop. I’ve never met this guy, but I know lots of craftsmen who built a piece that would not fit into its new home, even if they won’t admit it. People buy furniture that won’t fit in their house all the time. One frustrated customer told me that, “Things would have been fine except for that lying yardstick.”
More from this series
A quick walk through a furniture store will tell you what sizes generally fit into a home. But building your own piece means that you can create a design to whatever dimensions you like; it’s a blessing that can be a curse. You need to know that, no matter how precise you make your drawings, your piece will be inches larger in transit and that doors, halls and stairways are almost always smaller than you thought.
Protective blankets add two or three inches, and a dolly adds even more. Six feet turns into nine feet once you have someone carrying each end. That stair landing is large enough to hold the piece, but what about you, your helper, and the piece?
Doorways narrow once you consider storm doors, closers, openers, latches, locks, and knobs, let alone doors that don’t completely open. Seven feet of stairwell headroom sounds like plenty for a four foot piece but, because it’s really hard to go up stairs with your knees bent, you need to add your carrying height to the measurement. Other obstacles that narrow clearances include handrails, banisters, newel posts, stair winders, electrical fixtures including switches, interior steps, stairwell openings, baseboard radiators, and other interior fixtures. Don’t forget, you might have to deal with this stuff while walking backwards.
Planning from the outset means you will avoid one of the most feared questions in woodworking: “How will it look on the porch?”
Next time: Four perennial problem pieces
Any comments? Anyone out there build a piece too big to leave their shop?