AZ in Colorado Springs
I've done several mock ups, full size, using cardboard, to illustrate design options and help make decisions regarding final size.
And, when I built a dining table for my daughter (who lives in Virginia), the drawing for turning the legs wasn't enough for her to completely approve the shape, so after I completed the leg glue-ups and cut the joinery, I turned one leg. Then I assembled the legs and aprons and laid a scrap of plywood at the corner with the turned leg (I hadn't glued up the maple top yet) as a kind of mock up. Photographed that corner and emailed it to her. Then glued up a new leg blank after she critiqued the shape. (Anyone need one poplar table leg, curved similarly to a bowling pin?)
That's not exactly what you did, but some instances of modeling. So far I've been able to work out the order of work steps from scale drawings (graph paper is one of my close friends) without any serious mis-steps.