Woodworking Ideas

Sources of Inspiration.
Sometimes coming up with an idea of what to make can be challenging.  Or if you know what you want to make , what style do do you make it in?  I have really struggled with this in the past and these  are some of the ways I have overcome the problem.

Woodworking Magazines

I love this as a source of  woodworking ideas.  I buy woodworking magazines and these regularly have a readers’ projects page and I have made quite a few pieces of furniture from the photos provided but adjusting the dimensions to suit myself.
Buying magazines is fairly expensive so I get old magazines from boot sales and we have a market stall that sells out of date magazines which is a great source.  My local library has a stock of magazines which I browse through every month.  Occasionally they sell bundles of the old ones.  There are numerous magazines to look out for The best ones I find are home decoration, home building and renovating, but also design, antiques and garden magazines.
Magazines are great because they are full of adverts or feature articles and the best bit is I can cut them out and keep my favourites.  Its important to display your cut out pictures and articles.  I used  to keep them in envelopes and folders but never looked at them now I stick them in an “inspiration scrapbook”

Furniture Stores

One of the more obvious places for woodworking ideas especially, if you’re fairly certain of what piece of furniture you want, take a trip to your local furniture store and see what’s popular now. They will be showing the latest fads and fashions so look to see what “jumps out at you”. For instance you may like the use of contrasting wood in one piece and the recessed handles in another. You can then pick and mix the ideas to create your own design.
Open drawers and cupboards to see how they are constructed, also it is important look round the back at the bits not normally on show. Within reason you can take general measurements and get away with saying “you want to see if it will fit in your room” but if you start dismantling it and measuring every component with vernier callipers you will arouse suspicion and the staff would quite rightly take offence.
Last of all look at the price I have often bought furniture because I know I cannot even buy the timber for the price the furniture is selling for.

Furniture Catalogues

If you can’t make it to a furniture store or before you go to one, send off for the stores catalogues. This can save you lot of time. For the same reasons as going to as store it is likely to have the latest and most popular ideas and fashions. In addition catalogues often have designs and variations which are not available in the shops. Often the pictures will show the piece of furniture in a setting which can give you some more ideas and show a variety of colours and finishes.
As with magazines, you can cut the pictures out and paste them into an “inspiration file”.
Some catalogues will even give you the dimensions. I have just picked up a brochure for an ingenious piece of furniture that has drawings in it and although I can not copy it, as it contains hardware which is made by the manufacturer. It will be a major boost in designing my own version.

Woodworking Books

A Dombrowski walks into a bookstore...
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya
I love books. I have an amazing collection, which I’ve built up over a number of years, and they provide a great resource for woodworking ideas. They often contain lots of colour pictures and some even have plans. Books can be found on every subject imaginable. For instance if you wanted to copy a certain designer or period of furniture design it is very likely that you will find a book just on that subject.
The problem with books is they are very expensive. Second-hand books can be found a lot cheaper at jumble sales, garage sales, book fairs, eBay has a large selection of woodworking books for sale, many of which go unsold. Here in the U.K. we have specialist second-hand antique books shops which often have sections just on woodworking and carpentry. The local library is a great source of books, with minimal outlay, and I regularly borrow books from there. Amazon also has many second-hand woodworking books for sale for as little as a one penny or one cent and all you pay is the postage.
One problem with books, is that they date. I learnt woodwork at school, and all the books we had there were very old so many of the first projects I made were very old-fashioned looking. This can be also an advantage if you’re interested in making replica antiques or following old styles such as Shaker or Arts and Crafts and then old books about them a great source of information.
Another problem I have found with books, is, they tend to take over the whole house, and I have just recently been having to dispose of books as I had more books than shelf space. The new fashion of Kindle and ebooks should make this a problem of the past.