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Preparing dimensioned furniture plans *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.

How to design a desk (knee hole will be reversed when I make it)

Once I worked off a published plan, had difficulty understanding the plan because I had not created it, encountered an error that resulted in problems and that was the last time I used a plan I didn’t create.

The mechanics of creating a dimensioned plan for a piece of furniture are the same no matter what I build. I am building a desk for the kitchen. The process is the same if building a chest of drawers. A sketch of the desk will enable the required sizes to be determined and added to the sketch, which will become “The Plan”. I have found it useful to develop the plan in a notebook rather than scraps of paper. I show the calculations in the notebook so that I can readily check and refer back to them as I proceed.

The process entails first deciding on what dimensions are required to meet the need and then from these dimensions, calculating all the other dimensions that are needed to make the piece. It’s that simple to create a plan.

Step 1 Determine the sizes that are required. ( mathematically these are the independent variables): Desks are 30” tall, knee holes are 24 high by 18” wide for the chair that will be used, this desk needs to be at most 38” wide, 28” deep, have 4 graduated drawers, sit 3” off the floor, the dividers and top will be 7/8”, posts 1 3/4”. That’s it except for drawer details that can come later. Everything else about the desk to prepare a dimensioned plan is determined from these essential initial decisions.

Step 2 Make a scaled drawing of the front of the desk. (see picture)The scaled drawing provides a place to record dimensions and it provides a view of the furniture proportions to see if they look right.

Step 3 Methodically calculate everything that depends on the decisions made in step 1 (these are the dependent variables) Add these dimensions to the drawing as they are determined.

Step 3a. What is the height of the pencil drawer: Total desk height – top height- 2 times divider height – kneehole height.
30- 7/8- 2(7/8)- 24 = 3 3/8”
Do a design check. Is this a reasonable height for a pencil drawer. Yes!

Step 4. How much height is available for the 3 drawers. Proceed just like for the pencil drawer. The total space is the knee height fixed in Step 1.
Knee height- 3 dividers – height off floor = Height for 3 drawers
24- 3(7/8)-3 = 21 6/8” to be divided between 3 graduated drawers.

Step 5. Calculate drawer heights
21 6/8 divided by 3 equals 6 1/8 for middle drawer.
subtract 7/8 for the drawer above and add 7/8 for the drawer below. (note: ranks of graduated drawers increase in height top to bottom by the divider thickness.)

Step 6 Check for errors by adding up all the dimensions to see that the total is the height of the desk- 29 1/8 plus a 7/8”top.

Step 7 Repeat these steps for the width of the desk.

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