Some time back our friends at Google obtained a really cool program called Sketch-Up. The pro version costs a whole bunch of money, but they made a sort of stripped down version of the program available as a free download. The free version lacks a couple of major components for rendering and such, but it is a very powerful drawing tool. Version 6 is available at Google Sketchup.
Anyway, I downloaded a copy and began fiddling around with it. I've just barely touched the surface of its capabilities, but am learning more as I go. I've even found a Cool Forum with a bunch of folks, some of them professional archetects and such, who really know how to make SketchUp sing. There are several other places on the web to get free tutorials on using the software, but you can search them out yourself.
I've been having so much fun playing with Sketchup that I thought I'd try my hand at some furniture plans, some stuff I've made previously, and some stuff I'd like to make in the future. Now, one can surely draw up a piece of furniture from the outside with little effort, but to be useful, plans have to be exploded so the innards can be seen and the joinery figured out. I found that it is much better to build the piece from the inside out, just as if I were making it from wood.
One of the things I particularly like about Sketchup is that it is easy to import your own materials, such as different types of wood. There's a good tutorial on how to do this at the forum link above under the Tutorials section. Anyway, this lets you model the project in your intended wood to see how it looks. I'd recommend importing both a horizontal and a verticle version of the grain so you get the added benefit of seeing how that is going to look, also.
Following are a few plans I've done. I've included jpg exports of them so you can see what they look like without downloading the entire plan. You will, of course, need to download Sketchup if you don't already have it in order to see the plans. If you click on the animation scenes, they will take you from the intial view to other angles and then to the exploded drawings.
Dimensions are easily added, but they do crowd the drawing, so I've only included dimensions on the Garden Bench. You can pull pieces away in the exploded views and use the dimension tool to measure them to print out for your working plans if you'd like. I've included most of the joinery, or at least on one example of duplicated assemblies.
Here's a nice garden bench of Eastern Red Cedar. You could use some other wood if you like, but . . .
This is similar to a bow front table I made a while back. Some laminated wood bending is used for the bow front. The drawer front is a trick to cut out, but matching grain is a must.
Another piece similar to one I made, this Bookseller Table involves some wood bending and unussual joinery.
Here's a piece I want to make one of these days. Similar to period pieces of the 17th-18th Centuries. Carvings can be added as well as more elaborate molding on the top piece.
Our pastor wanted me to make a sandbox table to be used for a special service and wanted it to remain as a piece of altar furniture. The top on this lifts off revealing the 4" deep sandbox.
I finished the piece and I must say that is was much easier working with measured drawings and with having most of the issues of joinery worked out ahead of time.
Here is a picture of the finished piece.
And here it is with the lid removed.
This contains the parts diagrams and measurements for each part of the sandbox table.
Here is another outdoor type bench. A fella on one of the forums posted a couple pictures of this bench looking for plans. Using the pictures posted, I drew up this SketchUp of it.
Popular Woodworking magazine has asked for SketchUp users to create models for any of the projects they have had in the magazine going back several years. Since I plan on taking a shot at building the Shaker Style Grandfather Clock from the Aug 2007 issue, I had already begun drawing up a model of it and decided to submit it to them.
A fella at one of the wood working forums is contemplating making some infill hand planes and asked me to store the SU model here so folks could look at it and comment on changes etc.
While these should get you started, if you have any questions, drop me an email.