How I Store Wood Shapes for Long-term Use

I received this question in episode 2 of the Ask Brian Boggs Show:

How do you store your wood shapes in digital format for long-term use?
Martti Honkakoski asked, “In episode one, you said you no longer have much need to prepare prototypes for sit quality of a chair because you have lines, angles and curves recorded. Apart from jigs and other physical records, how do you store your shapes in digital format for long-term use, and what are the digital tools and digital file formats you play with? How did your tool set evolve over time?”

Now… I have lines that are preserved in software and printed out on paper. It’s a real clear set of geometrical curves, radii and angles that I work with that are preserved on paper and in digital format. Starting out, those forms were preserved in process, so I would have a bending form for each of the different parts and I would have a process for putting those pieces together, but it was decades before I was able to identify clearly what the exact shape I ended up with was, or what important angles were there that I needed to preserve. What the chair form as a finished item is, is pretty different from each of the parts that go into it. It’s their overall relationship and joinery that makes it work with your body, so as long as I had the process and the forms, I really didn’t need much else, but now I’m doing a lot more experimental work, both in joinery and in chair design and having a digitally-mastered framework for guiding my experiments has been really critical.

Now that I’ve defined it in a language of points in space that form the radii, for example, the lumbar and thoracic curves of the back, the angle of the seat and the safety points on the floor that the chair has to be contacting, I could manipulate one or the other of those if I think I have an idea on how to improve those shapes. It has been very helpful to reel that in, into a two-dimensional visual. I hope that helps.