From all this it will be seen that the designer is confined by little beyond convenience and custom in arranging the size of furniture, though very frequently the cost has to be taken into consideration. This point need not be insisted on here more than by saying it is an important factor in deciding the substance of the material. If this is thick enough and strong enough nothing more is absolutely necessary, though custom and appearance have to be consulted and consequently taken into consideration. The sideboard top of 1/2 in. thickness is all that utility demands, but good appearance, or what we consider such, otherwise custom, requires it to look more, consequently it has a thick moulded edge given to it by lining.
The first principles of design in furniture the beginner should note are that the thing should be fit for its purpose, that the construction should be sound, and that purely decorative details should only be added to good construction. To make these ornamental details the first consideration would be altogether wrong. Ornament should be added to construction, instead of the reverse being the motive of the designer.
It seems almost needless to remark that some knowledge of drawing or facility with pencil is essential to those who would make their own designs, though to make these properly requires special knowledge and training beyond that which is given in ordinary schools, even if they be of art in 'connexion with South Kensington.' Technical details have to be understood. These are of more importance to the worker than power to produce a finished drawing or of a knowledge of perspective. Both these may be of advantage, but a nice-looking drawing is of very little use in the workshop if incorrect.
Any one who can use a T square and the other essentials to mechanical drawing can make a small drawing sufficiently good for workshop purposes, provided he has some knowledge of construction. The small drawing is simply the sketch from which the working drawing is set out, and may be either to scale or drawn in rough perspective. The former is the more accurate, though perhaps to the ordinary observer the latter may convey a better idea of the thing intended to to be represented. Fig. 159 shows a small overmantel so treated, and Figs. 160 and 161 represent the same thing drawn to scale, both front and end elevations being shown. For workshop purposes, if half only of the front were drawn it would be sufficient, and the sketch might be of the roughest. As a matter of fact they generally are.
To the actual workman the working or full-sized drawing is of far more importance than the miniature design, for it shows him the thickness and size of each piece of wood, as well as of the whole, and in some cases the details of construction, joints, etc. These are not always necessary, and a working drawing is often a very rough and fragmentary affair, not at all the thing a drawing-master would approve of. If it shows sufficient to guide the worker nothing more is needed, though it may look better if more highly finished. As might be expected in actual practice, the extent of detail shown in working drawings varies considerably. In some there is little more than a full-sized elevation, while in others every joint almost is shown. In the vast majority of cases the latter is quite unnecessary, for the maker knows which method of construction to employ without having it before him in the drawing. Too much detail, that is, more than is required, unnecessarily complicates the drawing, so that the worker may be advised to make these as simple as they can be consistently with showing what is wanted.
Fig. 159. - Overmantel.
Fig. 160. - Front Elevation of Overmantel.
Working drawings, it may be remarked, are often dispensed with altogether, but the novice certainly should not attempt to begin any job without one.
Fig. 161.- End Elevation of Overmantel.
With a drawing he has something to guide him and to refer to when in doubt. The time spent in preparing it will be more than saved afterwards, not to speak of the smaller liability of wasting material by cutting it wrongly.
The drawing may be either to scale or full-sized. The latter is preferable. The scale means that all the parts are proportionate, but are drawn in small size: for example, I in. scale means that each inch of the drawing represents a foot of actual measurement, so that I in. of this in the drawing is 1 /12 in. The scale may be anything, 1 1/2 in., 3 ins., etc, which simply means that each of these is equal to a foot. Drawings on a small scale naturally cannot be made so accurately as those which are of full size.
The construction of working drawing does not require a knowledge of ordinary drawing, though, of course, this can be no disadvantage to the draughtsman. Many, however, can make good working drawings who are unable to draw at all in the ordinary sense, so the reader, if he is among the latter class, need not fear that he will be unable to do what is wanted. If he can rule lines with the square very little more will be wanted except head work, for every drawing of the kind wants thinking about. It cannot be done mechanically.
First of all the front elevation should be drawn, that is, the outlines of each part represented flat, no shading nor perspective being required. Then, if necessary, an end elevation is drawn in the same way.
To show the thickness of various parts, sections are drawn on them, and are indicated by transverse lines. A sectional drawing means that the thing represented is supposed to have been cut in two showing the edges of all parts.
A plan is a drawing of the lines of a thing from above. Thus a plan of a table, 3 ft. by 2 ft., is nothing more than four lines forming an oblong of this size.
On it can be indicated the position and thickness of the legs and of the framing, but these can be shown in another way, viz., by drawing an end elevation and a front one. These, of course, show the top too, so that there is no occasion for all the drawings to be made. As a matter of fact, a drawing would seldom be used for a small plain table. It has only been named as a simple example.
A working drawing which may come before one is seldom, indeed never, comprehensible at first, unless of a very simple character. Its lines require studying. It must be read as it were before its intention becomes clear and the bearings of the relative parts to each other are understood. Some drawings require a great deal of study, so the novice should not be discouraged if he cannot make out their drift at first. It is very often the custom to supplement the drawings with written explanations, and though words are not parts of a drawing, none but a pedant could object if their use elucidates anything. I want my readers if possible to get away from the notion that there is either any mystery in making or understanding a working drawing, or that a number of rules could help them. Common sense is the best guide, after the elementary principles which have been given; and probably it would be as difficult to get several men to make a working drawing exactly alike as to get them to write a letter in the same words. The sense would be the same, but not the means by which the intention is conveyed. However much the drawings of any piece of furniture might differ in appearance, if made by competent draughtsmen and worked from by equally competent cabinet-makers, the articles made would resemble each other. If the constructive joints were not shown they would probably differ, but so far as external appearance the things would be alike.
Now, after this a rendering of the overmantel named (p. 213) in working-drawing style will be of assistance to the beginner. As both sides are alike only one half need be shown of the front.
Fig. 162. - Working Drawing and Scale of Overmantel.
Necessarily it cannot be given here (Fig. 162) full-sized, but is drawn to the scale which accompanies it.
First of all the principal lines are drawn, and then the sections put in. Analysing the drawing, we find that the thickness and length of the top shelf, the top and bottom of the cupboard, are got Their width is seen from the end elevation (Fig. 163). The thickness of the columns is seen by section A, which shows them to be square. Following along to the right we find that the door frame B is not so thick as the square, and that it is set back a trifle, for were it flush with the front of the column the line would go straight. Further, we find that the door frame is rabbeted, and that the panel C is held in by-beads. Now there is no use in extending the sectional drawing right across as it already shows all that is necessary. The thickness of the ends is shown at D, and might have been drawn against A except for the additional clearness of its present position. The width of the end is got from Fig. 163. The section of the back is sufficiently indicated and explained by words as well as drawing. Now this does not profess to be a perfect drawing, but it is as much as would be required, and gives a better idea of a working drawing, as practically used, than a more elaborately worked out one would do. Any cabinet-maker can see what is wanted, and more than many would require is shown.
To show the construction equally clearly by a totally different arrangement of drawings would be quite possible, and might be interesting, but would be of no real utility, as the same principles would be found embodied in all.
Fig. 163. - End Elevation.
The setting out or working drawing may be made on paper, but it is more convenient to do so on a piece of board unless the article of furniture is very large. It will rarely be found necessary to draw more than half of anything, if so much; for, as in the case of the overmantel, words and figures may be used to show the length of the central space. A thin pine board, or several of them joined together to make the necessary width, is as useful as anything. The drawing can be planed off afterwards, and the same wood used either for another drawing or for working up. A pencil will be used to draw with, and if it does not mark distinctly enough rub the wood over with chalk beforehand.
Nothing more need be said about drawing except to recommend the reader to endeavour to understand any he may meet with even if he does not intend to make up the article shown, for he will by so doing gather much information which cannot be acquired otherwise.