Furniture Plans – Step by Step from Inspiration to Reality – Part 1 of 8

This multiple series of how-to articles will explain how I create furniture plans for Plan Canvas and also (hopefully!!) give some answers to those who are curious.
Here’s an overview of the articles that I see fitting in:

1. Inspiration – This is the research part
2. Concept – This is the creative part
3. Theory – This is where all things need to work to make it real
4. Prototype – Make sure it works if real – all in CAD
5. Practicality – Make sure you use as little material as possible
6. Rough Draft – Putting it on paper
7. Publish – Have the Teacher work your check
8. Build and/or Sell! – This one could be a whole separate set of articles, but I’ll outline the steps on my store

So starting at the top!!


From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed the clean lines of mid-century modern furniture. I grew up with a very good friend of mine in Iowa who lived in a very large ultra-mod house, complete with an Eames chair in the living room. The house itself was incredible, but what really got me is how the house had a style both in and out. Since I knew that the amount of money to spend just building houses was something out of my reach, I decided to start drawing up furniture that had the same feel as Mark’s house. I also drew cars, but we won’t go into my day job…

So nowadays, I tend to review lots of various modern furniture sites, along with a vast array of books. I’ve added links to these sites and some of these books on the blogroll on the right. Don’t focus on anything, just find something that you like, something that strikes a chord. Bookmark, or somehow save up these various areas of inspiration. If you keep into the area of building furniture plans, this becomes seriously helpful for your future projects.

For the purpose of this series of articles, we’re going to look through the development of Plan Canvas’s Chair 00004. This is one of the better selling furniture plans on the site, and has had some really nice reviews 1, 2 (thank you!). The inspiration for the chair was pretty simple – I needed some chairs for our front porch. I had some cheap plastic chairs that we’d junk-picked and they work great, but look horrible. I wanted to have something that looked nice, but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. At the end of this, you’ll see that I ended up designing a chair that can be made from half a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood.

So take your time and browse through some of the links, look on Ebay, search Craigslist, go to your local “antique” shop (Detroit has lots of these) and pick out some pieces that really hit you!!!

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