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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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I Can See It, I Just Can't Draw It

From time to time someone asks for a plan or measured drawing of one of my shop projects, and with embarrassment and shame I must proclaim, "I can't draw!" Not even a little bit. Not with a pencil, not with a mouse… I just can't draw.

Kind folks have offered to take me under wing, provide tutelage and motivation, and teach me to draw. Others have offered to spend their precious time on this lost cause and teach me the basics of SketchUp. For a lot of reasons, nothing has worked. Recalcitrant student, mental block, or just woefully inadequate, the cause is unknown, but I simply have only the sketchiest grasp of sketching.

The proof is in the doodling, and as you can see from this drawing, it is really pretty sad. Believe it or not, this wavy mess represents a new corner cabinet I built this week. And, all in all, it turned out fine. I had no cut lists, cutaway diagrams, three-dimensional renderings, or perspective views – just a handful of measurements and this poor, poor sketch.

Yes, I know what you are thinking… I drew this while riding in the back of a stagecoach and there was probably some adult beverage(s) involved. Honestly, no, I was rock-solid sitting at my new workshop desk, my only beverage a good cup of coffee. One might think a steady hand that can saw a straight line might be able to draw a straight line, but sadly, no.

Yet, with my seriously sketchy sketching capabilities, every project I build does have a drawing of some type. It may be nothing more than a place to scribble a list of dimensions, or it could be crudely done to some sort of scale in order to gauge proportion, but it is little more than that; it is temporary and merely a means to an end. The reality is, it doesn't have to be good. Just legible enough and just detailed enough to allow me to "noodle" out joinery and dimensions. So, I am sorry. I am more than happy to provide you with overall dimensions, joinery details, and even dimensions of components, but drawings, well, you can likely… no, very likely… do better yourself.

And there's a castle in the cloud and it's floating on by
Can you see it? Can you see it?

With my imagination I can see it
With my pencil crayons I can draw it
On a piece of paper I can show it to you
I can show it to you.

2008 Barenaked Ladies from their children's album "Snacktime!"


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