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Virtual Wood Shop

For the eHandyman
  (+5, -3)
(+5, -3)
  [vote for,

I like to dabble and play around with wood projects on occasion. I have two problems with this, though: 1) I suck horribly at it, and 2) I'm not about to invest a lot of money into wood shop equipment in order to do something I suck at.

So I thought it would be interesting to have a Virtual Wood Shop computer program, where I can play around to my heart's content. VWS is a complete shop with all available tools and equipment, including the big stuff like joiners and table saws, etc. Also, the shop has supplies available - assorted nails, screws, other fasteners, glue, clamps, the whole bit.

There's a materials inventory, where you select your wood and other materials for your projects. There is a projects section that gives you details of some sample items to create, to get you started (or you can work freeform). Lastly there is the workbench, where you do your building.

You use the software just as you would use a real wood shop, except of course you manipulate the materials and tools using your mouse and keyboard. Nothing is automated. When you cut a board to length, you have to measure, mark and saw it. An optional undo function will let you correct mistakes, but its use is highly frowned upon.

There will have to be some allowances for gravity and positioning of materials - so that when you need to nail two boards together, you can mouse-position one board to the other, then when you let go to get the nail gun, the board will stay where you set it.

As you build projects, you can save them for later viewing, replay the assembly, and print out the plans so that you can create a real version of the project (if you think you've advanced to that level).

Microsoft's entry into the genre, MS-Wood™, includes an optional assistant named Taper, an animated tape measure character that pops up to help on occasion. "It looks like you're trying to make a dado cut..."

I know many of these functions are covered by CAD software, but the idea here is to focus on the process of manually creating something.

I'm much more likely to actually produce something that at least vaguely resembles the intended item by using a virtual system than I would in an actual work shop. Folks in similar circumstances would probably feel likewise. If you're good with wood and can really do this sort of thing, then this isn't a program for you.

Perhaps Norm Abrams would lend his face to the box cover. "New Yankee Virtual Work Shop"...

[A bit of a truck with the category here - the presumption is that any simulation is a 'game'. I don't believe that is always true - this is not intended to be a game.]

waugsqueke, Apr 03 2003

(?) A little something extra http://www.halfbake...a/Plug into the USB
http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Wood_20scent_20air_20freshener_20_26_20alarm#1089741103 [GutPunchLullabies, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[GPL]'s link fixed http://www.halfbake..._20alarm#1089741103
[angel, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       Damn, I'd forgotten how much I liked this idea. Thanks for bringing it back.
phoenix, Apr 03 2003

       + This is a very good idea, especially because it’s possible and practical. Why does it not exist yet? (And why all those fishing simulators?)   

       Considering cost of tools, wood, hardware, and shop space, this would be a great way for beginners to get into woodworking. After using the software you would have a better idea of which tools are essential to have, what designs are practical, and how to go about building a project.
AO, Apr 03 2003

       Most 3D rendering programs have a lathe function that allows you to turn a semi-profile into a 3D object. So I guess the technology is there.   

       How are you going to recreate that special smell of sawdust and wood glue, though?
DrCurry, Apr 03 2003

thibbic, Apr 03 2003

       Good, but *only* if it ain't made by Microsoft.
galukalock, Apr 03 2003

       Nice idea, and one that I would have used quite a few times now.. I would also propose that woodworking is not the only forum..   

       What about electronics?   

       Building arbitrary objects using traditional glass methods would be nice..   

       Howabout building a virtual room where you have such abilities as cutting, joining, bending (think metal and glass) and polishing.. Add to that dynamic lighting and you have scored in my books :)   

       <comment _had_ to be made> MS Wood (tm) ROTFL.. First "Expansion Pack": MS Viagra (tm) </comment _had_ to be made>
JackandJohn, Apr 03 2003

       // What about electronics? //   

       Sure... it could be part of the whole Microsoft Shop™ productivity suite.
waugsqueke, Apr 03 2003

       There are virtual electronic circuit programs. Glass blowing might be interesting, but why not just "carve" your object out of a block of glass?
phoenix, Apr 03 2003

       MS-Wood™ could have add-on kits. Say, a kit for building violins, with the appropriate woods, varnishes, volcanic ash, speciality adhesives, hygrometers, and accessory hardware (strings, tuning peg handles, etc.)   

       The wooden boat kit, cabinets, MS-Wood™ Stickley™ Edition . . .   

       There could be an open source version too but it'd be hand tools that you have to sharpen first.
bristolz, Apr 04 2003

       Good, because I missed it first time around due to not being born yet, and it's excellent.   

       For those who think everything *should* be a game (having duly noted your objections Waugs), maybe you could progress through levels, starting with the old cheeseboard school project, right through to a nineteenth century Shaker dwelling that would make even Norm gasp in wonder.   

       Speaking personally, I think something like this would make me want to rush out and start investing in lots of expensive second hand tools right away. If I had shown any skill at woodwork, I would have liked to become a cabinet maker. I watch NYW with the same lust for possession my fellow engineers experience watching Top Gear.
egbert, Apr 04 2003

       I agree with dag there. Now, as for open-source, that's really the only way this would get all the right features, because MS would first sell it barebones and buggy, then they'd make ya buy MS Wood SE 'updated and improved', just to get the features you really wanted in the first one. All the while costing you many monies.   

       The open-source community would refine it constantly (as there are many programmers who also love woodworking), release many updates for free, and make the pseudo-final version available, if not for free, then for a trivial sum, unlike MS (I call it the pseudo-final version because open-source software gets updated, improved, and feature-enriched nearly round-the-clock, as some here already know).   

       Now, as for reposting. I didn't even know it could be done. How do ya do it? I've killed maybe one or two that I felt regret over, but my real concern is deleting something later that I wanna resurrect. How's it done? Are the instructions in that pesky help page again? I read that already...(reading help page again)...
galukalock, Apr 04 2003

       // ...the fact still remains, your masterpiece created in virtual land will never be touched, caressed or have the physical satisfaction that fine woodworking brings. //   

       Yes, this is true. If one has the ability to produce actual stuff, one should be actually doing it and not using this program.   

       galu, please, Microsoft bashing is old, tiresome, and degrades your credibility.
waugsqueke, Apr 04 2003

       Okay, how about MS-neutral Open-Source Community-praising?   

       Anyway, how do I repost?
galukalock, Apr 04 2003

       I've always wanted the Virtual Blacksmith!
L a z y M a n, Aug 06 2003

       Anybody started a woodshop simulator yet?   

       I want to build some good stuff now that I've started a little bit IRL
JackandJohn, Jun 24 2004

       Warning: Not for experienced woodwokers (i know you already said that, but i have a different reason). i used to be pretty good at pinball. since playing space cadet pinball on the pc however, i suck at the real thing. if this extends to this simulation a big warning would be needed on the packaging and possibly an 'are you sure you are crap at woodworking?' box when the program starts. this could cost someone their job. +
stilgar, Jul 06 2004

No noise (you can adjust the volume),
No mess,
And you get to keep all your fingers attached. Well, all the fingers you’ve started with.
shibolim, Jul 06 2004

       The problem here is that if you lust after becoming a cabinet-maker or even just a bit handy with wood, the best thing to do is get on with it. CAD software has it's place, but you cannot LEARN from it, woodworking like most crafts can only be learnt by doing. Don't let NYW fool you, a $100,000 shop can do some things that $1000 of second hand tools and a bit of ingenuity can't, but not that much. Get your hands dirty and smell the sawdust!
wagster, Jul 06 2004

       and if you stick your thumb the wrong way through the rotary saw there is lots of simulated blood shooting out and your score goes down?
rmtmaine, Jul 07 2004

       rmt - there is no 'score'. This is not a game.   

       // if you lust after becoming a cabinet-maker or even just a bit handy with wood, the best thing to do is get on with it //   

       Agreed, wagster. However, this is not intended for people who lust after becoming a cabinet-maker.   

       Both of these points are directly addressed in the body of the idea.
waugsqueke, Jul 13 2004

       "How are you going to recreate that special smell of sawdust and wood glue, though?"   

       See link! Just make it a peripheral! Synergy!
GutPunchLullabies, Jul 13 2004

       I love this idea. I have been thinking about it myself from another angle... 3d design. I had not taken it this far! A simulation experience! I was thinking of a virtual shop as the basis for a 3d design program. Then anyone that can use wood tools could also easily create designs! CAD, PDF, scale model plans, export. Other features would allow adjustments to a virtual crafting piece, or structure. You would be creating a design starting with the dimensions of real wood. Having real detail like kerf from cuts means the end product model could be more accurate. UNDO, FREE ! Discover that you need to do steps in a particular order! Back out and the reapply the steps , or go back in history and insert a cut, drill a hole, or prime without taking the piece apart.   

       Constrain to using only tools I have! Then I know I can make the piece. Using a virtual shop for design means I start with simulation of real wood in real dimensions. I will know what to ask for when I get to the lumbar yard. If it's really advanced I could try out out different grain alignments, wood type, and grade would affect a project. Boards could be simulated down to knots, warping, and splits. Using a virtual wood shop means that if i build something with it then I or someone I hire could actually build it using the same steps i used in the virtual shop   

       Optional features you don't have to use would let you improve a design and integrated tips could suggest improvements, and next steps. Improvements to cut list, markings for wood alignment, joining options, structural evaluation of pieces, glue options, building codes.   

       Both electric and manual tools! I don't have a wood shop, I have a collection of tools i have to set up ad-hoc. I find making cuts with hand tools is sometimes faster and certainly quieter than getting out the electric tools.   

       NOTE: In a real shop use safety equipment. This includes eye and hearing protection!   

       I'm a software developer mainly for web mobile and distributed applications. I'd be interested in working on this project part time if others are interesting in development, specification,testing, documentation, etc. I'm going to see if this might be possible using a game engine like Unity.
esotericbyte, Oct 15 2015

       " when you let go to get the nail gun, the board will stay where you set it "   

       Nuh-uh. No way. Not until you level up and find the clamp tool easter egg. You should have to do three things with two hands like all of us who play at wood without the proper tools.
normzone, Oct 15 2015


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