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Mock up leads to a happy ending

comments (9) January 8th, 2010 in blogs

MPekovich Michael Pekovich, art director
thumbs up 52 users recommend

A versatile cabinet. I intended the piece to be able to serve as a sideboard in a dining area or bookcase in a den or living room. The shelves behind the doors are deep enough to hold the average dinner plate. The 36-inch high top puts a reading lamp at the perfect height.
I made this quick mock up out of hot glue, luaun plywood and craft paper in order to get a sense of proportion and a feel for how it would fit the room. It was also a great way to get input from family members.
The display case fits the room pretty close to how I imagined it would and everyone is happy to see the finished result.
Leaded glass doors are not that difficult. Instead of wooden muntins, I decided to break out my glass cutter and soldering iron and make leaded glass panels for the doors. If youve never tried it, the technique is a lot easier that you might think. It took me about two hours to make the panels. 
Hardware can make or break a traditional piece like this. I chose hand-hammered hardware made by Gerald Rucks. He makes each pull one at a time. The pyramid screws are an authentic touch but are a little tricky to install. The square corners can scratch the plate if the screws arent threaded in straight. I used an open-end wrench and went slow.
A versatile cabinet. I intended the piece to be able to serve as a sideboard in a dining area or bookcase in a den or living room. The shelves behind the doors are deep enough to hold the average dinner plate. The 36-inch high top puts a reading lamp at the perfect height. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

A versatile cabinet. I intended the piece to be able to serve as a sideboard in a dining area or bookcase in a den or living room. The shelves behind the doors are deep enough to hold the average dinner plate. The 36-inch high top puts a reading lamp at the perfect height.


A few months back I wrote about mocking up my latest project, an Arts and Crafts display case. The style is traditional, but the design is original, so I really wanted to get an idea of not only the proportions but also of how it would fill the space it was intended for. I recently brought it in from the shop and received a nod of approval from my most demanding client, my wife.

If you'd like to see how I made it, you can check out the next issue of Fine Woodworking. An article on the case will give you all of the dimensions you need and details of construction, as well as some tips on making an accurate template for routing the through mortises.

Also, the Master Class department will show you how to make the leaded-glass door panels. It's a dirt-simple technique and adds a nice touch.

More on designing furniture

Fine-Tune Designs Before You Build
Mock-ups Quicken the Design Process
A Quick Course in SketchUp
A Guide to Good Design
9 Tips for Better Design
Create Project Plans from Photos

More articles and projects by Michael Pekovich

Project: Cherry Chest of Drawers
Article: Frame-and-Panel Doors Made Easy
Article: Hone Your Hand-Tool Skills
Q&A: Trouble With Table Design Membership Required
Gallery: Post-and-Rung Chair
Gallery: Shaker-Inspired Secretary



posted in: blogs, cabinet, arts and crafts, tenons, white oak, bookcase, shellac, sideboard


Comments (9)

Artdaniel Artdaniel writes: As an amateur hobbiest, I nearly always make a full sized mock up of a original furniture design. That is the only way I can tell what it will look like. I designed and made a cherry fireplace mantle for my daughter's house, but first made a mock up of poplar. It was good, but I did change some of the dimentions. The mock up was also very nice and went into my neighbor's house with shaker pegs added for their son's baseball cap collection. Several years ago I wanted to copy the cajun style table I saw in one of my woodworking magazines. I made a pine mock up and in the process made several mock ups of the legs before they looked right. The final product was so satisfactory that it became a desk for my granddaughter. I never did make the intended final piece. The trial leg pieces went into the scrap heap. I really believe in the value mock ups.
Posted: 2:32 pm on January 27th

tallpaul63 tallpaul63 writes: There are many fine ways to mock up a piece, and I definitely find the effort worthwhile. If you get the dimensions or proportions wrong, it will displease you forever.

One really simple way to mock up a project is to use blue painters tape on a wall of your house to make a real size sketch of your design. It's not three dimensional, but it has helped me to judge the proper spacing of cabinet doors, the proper thickness of legs, rails, and stiles, and the appropriate overall size for the location.

For those of you (us) who are not proficient in sketch up, this is pretty reassuring technology.
Posted: 12:21 pm on January 27th

JohninMaine JohninMaine writes: Lovely cabinet especially the leaded glass doors. I used to do mock-ups and build miniatures to work out design problems. Now SketchUp replaced all that. I can now build the furniture and put in the room look and walk all around it and behind it. And it's much more realistic than the cardboard and plywood mockups I used to make. And if I don't like something about the design I can change it easily and not have to burn up any scraps. If you haven't tried it out it's free from Google.
Posted: 12:13 pm on January 27th

JohnGreene JohnGreene writes:
Michael,

This is a beautiful piece of furniture displaying great grain, finish and proportions of the cabinets to the shelf area. It is nice to see the mock up in the planned location as well. This is a keeper for me to replicate and I look forward to your article in FWW!

Posted: 6:53 pm on January 25th

pcjohnd pcjohnd writes: I've taken to making full prototypes of projects that have "interesting" shapes, require complicated joinery, or even have simple joinery that I've never done before. It pays . . . big time . . . because the cheap wood I use in prototypes can get toss into the fire pit without remorse. And, better yet, a couple of the prototypes are in full, daily use!
Posted: 10:08 pm on January 21st

mrfixitnow mrfixitnow writes: Very classy design and great proportions.
Posted: 2:53 pm on January 14th

Tom Tom writes: Nice job, Mike, as usual. I followed your lead on making a mockup. Check out my blog at:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/23295/finally-a-project-i-really-want-to-build
Posted: 9:23 am on January 14th

Christopher_Hawkins Christopher_Hawkins writes: You have created a very attractive piece. The details in the next issue of FWW will help me decide if I have the skill to tackle this project. I hope I do.

Do you have other pieces available to view on the web?
Posted: 8:35 pm on January 9th

jlanc57 jlanc57 writes: Very nice! I can't wait to read the details in the next issue.

Jim
Posted: 7:40 pm on January 8th

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