Making Mock-Ups

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Can’t draw? So what! Design in 3-D instead.

Many woodworkers struggle with designing, whether it’s with a pencil or mouse. Even if you can sketch and/or navigate design software, it can still be difficult to get a good sense of how a piece of completed furniture is going to relate to real space. For example, it’s hard to tell from a drawing whether a table of a certain size will crowd a room or even just visually overpower it. As for ergonomics, well, good luck trying to ascertain from a 2-D rendering how a chair is going to feel, or whether a sofa side table will elevate a lamp at the right height for reading or holding your drink. 

For that kind of information, you have to invite a design concept into the real world. The time-honored approach is to make a mock-up from inexpensive materials to get a sense of proportion, feel, balance, and utility before committing time and expensive materials to the real thing. A mock-up is a model that helps you visualize a piece, work out joinery details, and/or simply puzzle out one particular section of a design. It sure helps to make any mistakes on what is essentially a cheap practice piece. And mock-ups, whether scaled down or full-sized, provide a great way to communicate your design ideas to others. 

If you’ve never mocked up a model of any sort, you might be surprised at how fun it is, and how much valuable information it provides. Here, we’ll take a peek at the materials used and the approaches taken by various pros to preview their designs in order to ensure premiere projects. 

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