Boards form building blocks of furniture and cabinet design.

boards as design element

Using software that allows you to design furniture and cabinets with virtual 3D boards is like creating in your shop without touching  a tool or machine.  It is as if you started project at your assembly table at the dry fit step.  You take the 3D boards and assemble them into cabinets, tables, desks, doors, drawers, hardware – whatever – by typing in their sizes and locations and watch as they – as a programmer on the project once said – “program-magically” – appear on the screen in 3D.  With several clicks of the computer mouse and key strokes you can build your project in 3D using virtual boards.    (And remember mistakes cost nothing if fixed on the computer screen!)

Of course other design programs allow you to generate images of your plans on the screen – but you must learn (or re-learn) what exactly are the X – Y – Z axis and deal with complex concepts such as layers, and arcs, and Bezier curves.   CAD is difficult for the average computer user to learn – much less master.

One magazine review of CAD systems said that the first test of ease of use was the software’s ability to draw a simple line – and noted that many of the packages failed this first test.   And I think the real kicker is that woodworkers don’t really deal with lines anyway – they deal with boards.  Lines are just a way of showing a board.  Why not show the board in the first place?  And while you’re at it – why not have the board show a nice grain and color?  Or maybe make is transparent and call it glass?   The beauty of designing with boards is that you can take a board and  with some mouse clicks and key strokes drill a hole, cut a slot, apply a contour on an edge, apply a joint to a board edge, put edging on the sides, even cut complex shapes and curves.

It all starts with an idea expressed with images of milled materials called boards.  The process continues through photo realistic 3D renderings, optimized cutting layouts, parts lists, cutting lists, and shop drawings for assembly.  At that point the skilled woodworker mills, assembles, and finishes the project.

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