There are three very important elements that must come together in making a project that will not only be pleasing to the eye, but will stand the test of time: good design, careful workmanship and meticulous selection of materials. You can continue to refine your design on paper, but at some point you will have to make that transition from a two dimensional drawing to selecting the lumber to use for each part. This can be one of the most difficult phases of any project and one that has the greatest effect on the final appearance of your finished piece.
I work with a lot of rough sawn boards (Wood Mizer) that are up to 12 inches wide. The worse defect is twist. First I saw the stock to rough project lengths and then using winding sticks, I attack the twist with a #5 hand plane, gradually moving the winding sticks toward the center. If there is bow or cup I can plane that out also. I now have a reference surface that can go thru my planer. The finished boards are perfect. This is not really difficult or excessively time consuming.
11-2. Pipe clamps, I have about 10 of them with varying lengths of black pipe in 1′ increments. I can switch out the clamps for larger lengths on larger projects, or downsize as needed. (very rarely do I need more than 6 clamps on a project during drying time, and when I do, it’s time for a cup of coffee and a 1/2 hour break while I wait) You keep your initial investment down, and buy them as you need them to increase your collection.
I built my coffee table!! I used the plans at www. EasyWoodwork.org to build mine – highly recommended you check those out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha