Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 4/1/99

Multimedia Plans On CD-ROM
Pembroke Table

Author: Bruce Neville

Reviewed by Barbara Gill

I was very excited to be able to evaluate this type of woodworking plan and looked forward to its arrival. I will try to give you an overview of the options and flow of the program; then I will go over my impressions.

The disc was loaded by using the drive designation and the start command which takes you to a picture of a secretary desk. There are three options on the screen: "Readme" results in an admonition from the computer that it cannot find the copyright file. I don't want to "Quit" so I chose "Continue". The screen changed and a voice with a pleasing English accent welcomed me to "the world of Multimedia Plans". Each time I returned to the main page, I received the same greeting. The main page has a picture of the Pembroke Table and a number of options which I will cover.

Intro - the same voice welcomed me and then goes through the organization of the disc. My only option is to return to the Main Page where I am again welcomed.

Step by Step - This section takes you through the construction step-by-step beginning with the cutting and tapering of the legs. My options are "Main Page", "Previous", "Next", "Print", " Dimensional Drawings" and "Rendered Drawings". As I scrolled through the pages I found that in several places the text referrs me to the Dimensional Drawings for measurements. When I clicked on the Dimensional Drawings icon, I was taken back to the first step of cutting the legs and had to click through several screens to get to the same part of the table I started with on the Step-by Step screen. The measurements are there; however the instructions still tell me I need to see the dimensional drawings for measurements. If I wanted to see any other screen except Print, Rendered Drawings, Dimensional Drawings or Quit, I had to return to the Main page and "The Message".

Rendered Drawings - This is a series of color pictures for each step. When you get to the end you are taken back to the main page and the "Welcome".

Plans - There are four views: end, side, top without the table top and top view with the table top. You are directed to click on your choice. I chose the first line drawing, the end view. "Next" takes you to the other views, some with dimensions and some without. At the end you go back to the Main Page and the message.

Bibliography - self explanatory

Animation - this section will take you through the order of assembly. At the end you have two options, "Quit" or "Main".

Cutting List - again self explanatory.

Print - the print option is always present on all screens .

In my opinion, this program needs quite a bit of work before it is ready for general consumption. For me the most limiting feature is the lack of continuity from option to option. If you are looking at the table top in the Step-by-Step section and want to see the same view in any other option, you must click through all the other views first instead of going right to the table top. This is time consuming and makes practical use of the program difficult. At the end of each section you must go back to the Main Page to see all of the other options. Each time you go to the Main Page, you hear "Welcome to the World of Multimedia" which gets old very fast.

Some of the rendered drawings are difficult to see. The cutting list however is very usable. Other options which would be nice to have include auto load and a conversion from metric to the English system.

Lastly, I would have appreciated some historical information about the origin of the table. The selection of woods recommended for the table were also unusual. The top, legs, drawer front and drawer runners were mahogany. The sides were beech or pine and the drawers oak. I would have been interested in why the mix of woods was selected.

When I responded to Chuck's announcement about the availability of this program, I was very excited and looked forward to the day it arrived since I really enjoy studying furniture plans. I am sorry to say that I have been very disappointed in the quality of this program. For me to use the plans in the shop would have required time consuming printing and organizing on my part. If I had purchased this disc, I would have had to return it.

Barbara Gill

Editor's Note: Barbara Gill owns and operates LaGrange Resources, a lumber mill and dry kiln in Virginia. The Pembroke Table CD-Rom is available for $12.00 (US) from Multimedia Plans.
John Knott also reviewed this CD-ROM for the WWA and below are his thoughts:

To be perfectly honest about it I wasn't much impressed. There were mainly just a lot of sectional schematics of joints, no full dimensional plans of the whole unit, and going from one section to another entailed returning to home and starting out again. The overall quality was not what I would want to attempt a project with, too "scattered" to keep a good flow of thought on the job. All in all I'd prefer the old fashioned set of plans to go by.

John F. Knott III,  a.k.a. Woodman

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