Face it, having to design furniture or create construction drawings for it is not on most set designer’s list of favorite-things-to-draw. Sometimes you can get away with doing what’s basically a giant napkin drawing but most of the time you’ve got to get into some real details: like joinery, hardware and material specs. And there are the standards: what’s the widest bookshelf you can have before you’ve got a serious sagging problem?
If you have only one book on furniture and cabinetry, Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton, is a good choice. Written for woodworkers, this book is an excellent reference for anyone who needs to draw or understand furniture design and construction. The book details over 90 different pieces and contains over 1300 beautiful pencil drawings. Each spread describes the piece in detail with exploded views and details, and gives design variations as well as sources for measured drawings.
There are also chapters on joinery, door and case construction, styles and the basic design standards for each type of furnishing.
Typical layout showing exploded views and details
Examples of joinery details
Each chapter is begun with a design standards chart
The book is published by Fox Chapel Publishing and retails for $24.95.
You can never have enough good reference books. Even with the seemingly endless information that’s available on the internet, having a good reference book close at hand can save you hours of searching internet sites for a critical bit of knowledge.
There are certain books that are part of my kit that I make sure to always have with me because the information they contain is so useful and job-specific that I’m sure I’ll refer to them numerous times during a show.
One of these is the Backstage Handbook. It’s subtitle, “An Illustrated Almanac of Technical Information”, is a perfect description of it’s contents. Profusely illustrated with crisp black and white drawings, the book is a visual reference of hardware, materials and architectural elements. Written by Paul Carter, the book was originally written for those in live theater. Now in it’s third edition, the book includes chapters that pertain more to film work as well.
I’m now on my third copy of the book as they often fall apart from heavy use. The book becomes my repository for notes, tables and other bits of technical info that I want to keep in one place.
It’s a nice compact volume that provides a quick way to look up typical fasteners, steel sizes, material weights and sizes and a lot of other information you’ll often need without resorting to sifting through a McMaster-Carr catalogue or various other books.
It’s published by Broadway Press and retails for $18, although you can sometimes find it cheaper through Amazon. This is definitely a book you should own.