Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Virtual Woodworker

My search for the perfect design has taken a dark turn. I'm torn between two different concepts--the gazebo and the pergola--and I waffle back and forth, nothing new for me because I've always been a waffler, but now there is a new layer to my waffling. Now I'm learning Google SketchUp, a free graphics software that allows me to see my ideas in 3-D and from all directions, which is an apparently good thing except that using the software is a type of addiction, an infectious hobby that has attracted a whole community of people on the internet who do their projects only with this software, never actually bring home the wood or cut it or assemble it. These virtual woodworkers display and share their finished projects online, and they discuss with great detail how they solved each technical difficulty (of the software, not the wood). And I am beginning to understand why.

Using the software, mistakes are easily erased away, and there is no end to the possibilities, all of which are free except for the time that is sucked away during the process. Try this, try that, make this thicker, thinner, etc. It never ends.

But back to the gazebo and pergola. A gazebo has a roof while the pergola is open. A roof means rafters, and rafters are installed at an angle, and angles are tricky to do in the SketchUp software, at least for novices like me, especially when you consider that that gazebo I want to build is a hexagon.

By contrast, the software is allowing me to easily create and try different pergola designs. Here's a pergola design that I'm considering:

But I don't like the idea that the software is pushing me in one direction of another. I do not like this one bit. I'd prefer to concentrate on the practical issues.

For example, pergolas are ideal to support flowering vines, while the gazebo's roof is not so good for vines. Also, building a roofed gazebo could prompt one of our nosy neighbors to complain to the city, which could require the pulling of a building permit.

More later.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Fred, Have you ever considered the techniques used for making graceful bends for canoes? Steam and lamination may provide the shapes that you seek. Cheers, Jim Stone