Noun 1.the original or model on which something is based or formed.
This weekend I decided to jump into a small project: two picture frames. For Christmas I bought my wife two small paintings for our kitchen. I loved the paintings, but the frames were a bit too formal for our kitchen. So, I thought “no problem, I’ll just build two new ones.” As always: easier said, than done.
I’ve never built a picture frame before, but how hard could it be? Now normally when I come up with a project I do as much research as I can on the subject. I Google, I hit the forums, WoodTalk Online, Lumberjacks and the like, not only for inspiration but for advise and instruction. I would even hit Amazon and buy some book like ‘Picture Frames and You’. But this time I decided to just jump right in.
The frames I wanted would be simple outlines of wood around the paintings. No mitres, no fuss. Just give the canvas something thing to conceal the edges where the painter’s brush had stopped and trailed off. I had an idea in my head, so I decided on Sunday I would just head to the shop and jump right in. Not a big project, I imagined it would take me the afternoon, and it probably would have, if I had done my homework and actually laid it out. I was able to build a the frame in a couple of hours, but I was not satisfied with the result. The frame was not as deep as I had wanted (due to the size stock I started with), I had not thought through how my joints would come together, nor had I thought through how was going to glue and clamps the pieces together (but besides that, it was perfect!…). I did build something on Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t build the frame I wanted, I built a proto-type of the frame I wanted.
I think I’ve been shy of the concept of building a prototype in the shop, mostly because I don’t have enough time to build the actual project, never mind a crappy mock up of one.
When I was in scenic design school we would stay up for a week building scale models of the assigned production and then bring them into class for critique. By critique I mean, watching the professor physically rip apart the model and say “maybe like this, or maybe not”, as you stared at your shredded weeks worth of work. Perhaps I am scarred. But on Sunday I really had to step back and say “hmmm, I really need to figure this out, and come up with a plan.” Even for a simple frame. It’s just part of the process, even for a hobbyist.
So Sunday afternoon was not at all a waist. I made a prototype of an idea I had for a frame. I have already come up with a half dozen ideas on how to make it better, more unique and how to use better woodworking skills. It may be firewood, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon.
I know what you mean about not having enough time for an actual build, let alone a prototype. That’s why I rarely do prototype.
That said, I attended a seminar with Andy Chidwick last year where he went on and on about his love of prototyping with XPS (expanded polystyrene) insulation. He showed us some of the prototypes, and I’ll give him credit. It allowed him to mock up his designs in almost no time.