Thursday, January 22, 2009


I am in the habit of forging a prototype for most architectural commissions that I create. Not only does the prototype help me to figure out the pricing of a project, it also allows me to learn if the ideas and drawings are to scale and the right choices. The prototype comes after the drawings and the design concepts are realized.

Here is a close-up photo of a 3 foot prototype section for a balcony that I learned a lot about the joinery, sizes and textures...

For example... if I am commissioned to forge a railing...

First is the drawings and concepts for the piece. Then once the drawings are accepted by the builder/owner, I will build a measured section(usually 3 feet long) full scale. Railings are generally priced by the linear foot, therefore, I make a measured section( 3' for this example) and the amount of time it takes to create the prototype divided by 3 for this sample multiplied by my hourly shop rate gives me the price per foot to share with the builder/owner.

I also learn if I selected the right material sizes and techniques to see the project to its completion and on schedule. If there are things that need to be changed to make the project smoother or easier, the prototype is a great way to learn the project from the inside out. It also removes any mis-guided or unrealistic design concepts. This is also the time to make adjustments and corrections to make the project as quickly, professionally and efficiently.

While I create the prototype, I also figure out ways to make jigs and other helpful tools to hopefully speed up production once the design/prototype is accepted by the client. This means that hopefully the actual project will go faster than the prototype which can equal profit or simply allow for unforeseen delays in construction that can sometimes make one loose money on a project.

Smyth Boone

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