I like the design I developed for my next woodworking plan (shown above). I am calling this piece of furniture the Modern Kitchen Cupboard. I like the overall shape, I like the gray paint and birdseye maple combination, the sweeping curves to the top; the modern door/drawer pulls. Pretty much all of it, except one thing.
When designing in SketchUp, I have learned the hard way to never rely just on your 3D model for a final design. Always draw it full size to confirm you like it; confirm there are no surprises (make a full size model if possible like this one). So, I bought some poster board and taped several sheets together and did just that; draw the Modern Kitchen Cupboard full size. I quickly discovered a design flaw. The cupboard is simply too short. In the image at the top of this post, I have added a scale figure which shows what I am talking about. The cupboard height is around this guy’s elbow. When I stretched out my tape measure while drawing the full size image, I thought: “Really, that is how tall this cupboard is?”
I knew instantly a significant design change was needed. But I was also disappointed because I had come to like the elbow height design. I also had to think back to the starting point of this process and wondered why I would draw the cupboard that short to begin with. I always need a starting point; some shape to work from. This is usually a 3D rectangle, then the design takes off from there. The object I used for inspiration was Chris Schwarz’ aumbry as seen in Popular Woodworking magazine. The Schwarz aumbry is a killer design and I like knowing there is a little Chris Schwarz aumbry in the Modern Kitchen Cupboard’s DNA. As luck would have it, there is a SketchUp model of this aumbry available for download (see it here). I downloaded the model and began my design process…
But, I never really paid attention to the aumbry’s height. While creating my own design, I did raise the height on the cupboard’s top; did this to get more vertical shape to the doors, but not because I thought the design was short. And I never did anything to add some scale, even though I knew doing so was important.
While drawing the cupboard full size in my workshop, I played around with various heights and settled on 56 inches as an appropriate height allowing for some item to be displayed on the cupboard’s top (family photos, a radio or TV, dirty dishes, etc.).
More height means more room for additional drawers. The new design shows two additional drawers and the drawer depth has increased by one inch. I played around with the idea of introducing a curve to the base of the cupboard, but I haven’t found a curve I like better than the simplistic straight look of the bottom face frame rail. Part of design is knowing when to stop.
I still need to make some minor changes to the inside of the cabinet since it is now taller, but I think this design is about 99% final. Soon, I’ll get to work on the new woodworking plan. A plan which will be much more compact than the expansive 34 pages of my last plan.
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