Every woodworker spends a protion of their time designing things to build or modifying existing plans to suit their own purposes and needs. Many woodworkers are also designers who start with a blank piece of paper and design their works from a concept or idea in their head, and plan the whole project out on paper.
One of the challenges of designing projects from scratch is ... how do you ensure they "look good", now I know that what looks good for one person may not look good for another, but we are talking about the "balance" of a project, not about whether you actually like the idea or not. For example you may not like the design of a certain chair, while other do, but the design of that chair may or may not be "in balance", which could be contributing to why some may not like it.
Back in early Greek times, when the concept of mathematics was being developed, a very keen mathematitian discovered a set of numbers that can be used to help desginers and architects design projects that are "in balance"". This set of numbers was morphed into an artchitectual device called a Fibonacci Gauge. The device is a simple concept that is basically like a three legged devider, but with a bit of a twist. When you set the 2 outside legs, the inner leg moves as well to a designated spot, and it is the middle leg that is used as well, in helping to design furniture, buildings and almost any type of visual artistic work.
In our case we need to use the Fibonaccin Gauge to help design a pleasing look to a small side table we had seen in a publication several years ago. We wanted to make a table of the similar design, but could not find the plans so had to go about making our own in a manner that ...
... was easy to understand, and that was a design that looked "balanced" and as pleasing to the eye as we could muster up.
For the templates we decided to use 1/4" hardboard that has some sort of a white coating on one side. Plain hardboard would be fine too, but for our purposes of drying to video tape this so everyone could see, we opted for the white version.
Making the first template, which was the side of the table, was relatively easy because we were working from a sheet of hardboard that was 2 feet wide and 4 feet long. Given these dimensions, and the fact that we knew we wanted a table that was around 24 inches high, all we need to do was to find what an acceptable width would be, and that's exactly what the gauge gave us. In our case we decided to go with the 14 inch width which one of the optional widths the gauge showed us. Since the top of the side or end of the table was slightly narrower, the gauge also gave us the width of the top, simply by using the other measurement on the gauge (as shown in the video).
The second measurement we needed to know was the length of the table between the two sides. Since we knew the height, we used the gauge in a different way. We knew we didn't want a square shape table, i,e, as long as it is high, we deciede to use double up on what the gauge told us, so we used the shorter reading, then doubled it to get width of approximatelay 18 inched.
The last template we needed to make was the lower shelf. In this case we took the shorter reading of the gauge and in this case we halfed it to give us a reading of about 4 inches off the floor.
All of these measurements are of course a bit rough. That is the beaty of using the Fibonacci Gauge, it's main purpose is to give you guidelines that help give proximities of size and shape, and with these known distances we can work out the small details of what works best for us. An amazing little tool that is an enormous help in designing woodworking projects ... just like the Greeks, who are renouned for their timeless structures.
Copyright - Colin Knecht