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From Plans to Perfect Projects: Tips for Building from Plans

Building a project from a set of plans can be a very rewarding experience. But project parts, tools, and the the plans themselves are not perfect. That’s why it pays to think through the process and form a plan of your own before proceeding with the build. In this edition of Kreg Plus, we’ll share tips you can use to get great results from a project plan.

Take Inventory of Your Tools Header
Take Inventory of Your Tools An important first step is to make sure you have all of the tools and accessories you’ll need to complete the project—especially easy-to-overlook items like drill bits and router bits. If not, you’ll need to consider whether or not any missing tools are worth the investment. You may find it easier to just pick another plan for a similar project that is buildable with your current tools. Or, you may have a great excuse to buy new tools!

Have Hardware on Hand Header
Have Hardware on Hand Image Stock up on hardware beforehand. Nothing is worse than being ready to go and realizing you don’t have the hardware you need to proceed. Occassionally, the hardware called for may be sold out or discontinued, which means you will need to find an alternative. If you have questions, it’s a good idea to contact the publisher of your plan or the specified hardware supplier before beginning.

Select & Prepare the Stock Header
Select & Prepare the Stock Image Project parts require good materials, so take time to examine materials before you purchase them. There are a few effective, easy ways to do this, as shown in this previous edition of Kreg Plus.

Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself Header
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself Image Although plans have dimensions for each part, it’s generally not a good idea to cut all the parts to final size right away. Errors in the plan or incorrect cuts can leave you with unusable parts. A better practice is to double check parts you’ve cut against stated dimensions as you work. After all, it’s more important that parts fit rather than hitting an exact stated size.

No matter how careful you are, mistakes will happen from time to time. Sometimes only a new part will save the day. Many times, though, you can repurpose the “mistaken” piece to make a smaller part elsewhere.

Trust Your Instincts Header
Trust Your Instincts Image Sometimes, despite all of your preparation, something in the plan won’t seem right or a technique may make you uneasy. When this happens, it’s a smart idea to take a step back and regroup. Don’t assume every project plan will be error-free. Read through the plan again, check any diagrams and photos, and then take a minute to set up again.

It can also be helpful to do a dry run, and even make a few test cuts. Make sure you have push blocks, featherboards, and any other safety gear necessary for the operation. Sometimes, even a safe cut can be intimindating if you’ve never done it before. If you really get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask a fellow woodworker for help. A great place to post project-building questions is within the Kreg Owners’ Community discussion forums.

Helpful Reminders Header
Helpful Reminders ImageA clever idea to keep track of where you are in the building process is to makes notes as you go. This is especially helpful if you don’t get out to the shop every day. These notes serve as a reminder of what’s next on your “to do” list. You can also use them to label project parts so you won’t get them confused during the build.

Good Habits Header
Success begins by developing smart habits. By making these steps part of your plan-building routine, you can save both time and money.

Simplify Measuring and Lay Out Tasks


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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
2015 August Home Publishing

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