Design Cycle: wooden stool

Design Cycle: wooden stool

G'day!  I'm here to help you get started in the Workshop.  My name's Darby and if it has to do with materials, I'm ripper.  We're going to get to materials in a bit, but the Design Cycle shouldn't start with building stuff.  A couple important notes:

  1. You'll need to finish the design and building of this project by about the end of September.  So don't be playing sillybuggers. Get started right away and stay focused.  Give it your all!
  2. Cutting, sanding and finishing nearly always take longer than you think they will.  So plan carefully, but quickly.  If you can get your plan approved in 1 class block, then Bob's your uncle.  If not, be sure to get planning finished before the next class and get your project approved via email to Number One so you can get started.

If you prefer to learn via video, here's Number One explaining this bit.  If you prefer to read, or want to review, here you go:

To get started, we need to look at the Design Cycle.  This is the basic sequence that designers go through for every project they have.  They may not hit every step in every project (we won't, for sure).  But the sequence remains similar each time.  Take a look:


In this case, the entire first phase, Inquiring and Analyzing, has already been done.  You know you're going to build a stool and that the reason is to gain experience with wood, joints, and finishing.  Here's your Design Brief, that explains those details (DesignBriefWoodenStool).

So you'll start with phase 2. Developing Ideas.  What you need to do is decide:

  1. Bar stool (tall) or short stool - which height?  Think about where you'll put this stool when it's finished.  (Yes, you get to take it home with you, or give it to someone.)
  2. What shape do you want the seat?  Squarish is easiest, but round, elliptical (oval), and other shapes are certainly possible, with a little more work.
  3. What color would you like to paint it?  We have many hues and shades.

Once you've made your decisions, you'll also need to know that there will be 3 different types of joinery on this project.  You'll be doing:

  1. Basic butt joints - these are simply wood pieces perpendicular to each other, with screws holding them together.
  2. Wood dowel basic butt joints - you'll drill matched holes in both pieces of wood, then glue in a piece of dowel.  No screws nor metal.
  3. Rabbet joint - for this one, you'll cut a groove on the edge of one piece, into which the other piece will fit and be screwed together.

Got all that?  Then you're ready for the next step.

Well, you know what you want, do you?  Then it's time to draw it on a sheet of A3 paper.  Use the skills you practiced with Dodavi to sketch out your stool.  Be sure to include the details you chose above; these can be annotations if you want.  Here's one example (ShortStoolSketch).

Some key things you can figure out through sketching:

  1. How do you want the stool to look?
  2. What length will you need the various pieces?
  3. How many pieces of each size will you need?
  4. How many holes will you need to drill, of which size, and where?

There's one final thing you can figure out, which also needs to be listed out on your sketch: a Bill of Materials (BoM).  This is a list of all the pieces, their specific sizes, fasteners (screws, dowels, nails, etc), and any other materials (glue, paint) you'll need to build the project.  Be sure to leave yourself room for this as you sketch.

When your sketch, with BoM, is a done deal, snap a picture of it and post it to your Portfolio site.  Then take it to Number One as a Request for Approval.  He may approve it on first review, but most of the time he'll request that you consider changes to improve it.  Once it's approved, you're ready to move on.

Gratz, Visitor.  That stool plan passed Number One's inspection.  Now, on to producing it.  The next step in doing that will be to model.  You'll build two kinds of models: scale model of the entire stool in balsa wood and functional models of the three kinds of joints.

Then, on to building your final stool.  Before you get started with that, a great fellow named David has produced a video explaining many of the tips and tricks of building a classy stool over on YouTube.  I'd like you to watch this and collect tips.  Then you can start working on constructing your final stool.  Once you've measured, cut, assembled, finished, and painted your stool, you're done!

Update: Note that we'll stop working on stools during class time on Wed, October 19th.  You may come in outside of class to work on your stool to finish it through Thursday November 4th.  Any stools not turned in by the end of the school day (3:05pm) on the 4th will have a grade assigned regardless.  No work on stools will be accepted for a grade after that point.

Nice work, Visitor!

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