drafting triangles and other materials?

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Forum topic by Millo posted 02-19-2011 08:08 PM 7249 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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543 posts in 3072 days

02-19-2011 08:08 PM

I know, I know… I should learn sketchup… I’d like to get into basic drafting (by hand) before venturing into CAD world. After doing a search here and elsewhere on the internet it seems not all drafting triangles are made the same. I plan to get a 45/45/90 and a 30/60/90.

I was wondering if anyone knew which drafting triangles were reliably accurate… Alvin Professional?

This one?

Soon I am going to get some of the drafting materials (flexible curves, T-square, compass, eraser shields and yadda yadda) recommended by Philip Lowe in his Fine Woodworking article “Drafting Basics” and Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez in his FWW article “Scaling Furniture from Photos”, which I read in the FWW compilation book ‘Practical Furniture Design”, checked out from a public library. I also have read about people recommending ACCURATE 45/45/90 triangles for building various types of miter sleds, miter-slot key jigs, etc. for when/if it isn’t convenient to use the combination square.

I think thus far I’ve thought of going to Jerry’s Artarama to get curves, etc.Thanks everyone!

25 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#1 posted 02-19-2011 08:18 PM

All drafting triangles are accurate enough for drawing.

Metal triangles for setting up machines are different from drafting triangles -
the machinest tools are meant to stand on edge and stuff like that,
not just lay flat for drawing lines.

View Planeman40's profile


1179 posts in 2783 days

#2 posted 02-19-2011 08:26 PM

All of these should be accurate. Alvin has been around for years. Mechanical drawing equipment is quickly falling out of use and only a very few suppliers are left. Grab what you can while you can. Fortunately I still have most of mine from my Georgia Tech days around 1959.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View AmandasHusband's profile


58 posts in 2715 days

#3 posted 02-19-2011 08:27 PM

They’re all accurate. And you may want to buy a couple of the smaller ones while you’re at it.

I used to have a bunch from when I was in high school and college. I have a 2 year drafting and design degree and I threw most/all of my drafting stuff away about 10 years ago. But a guy I work with gave me 6-8 different sized ones he had in his cube. I’ve got them spread out in my garage now. They’re great for squaring things up.

-- In this world there's two kinds of people my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 02-19-2011 08:34 PM

thanks guys

yeah, the woodworking situations I was thinking about was for when you have to lay it flat, because in that case the combination square’s head is not flush w/ the blade, and marking a line on plywood or MDF can be rather challenging that way when building some jig.

Would you recommend getting a metal 45/90 that I can both lay flat or stand on edge for both drawing and set-up and just getting a plastic/acrylic 30/60/90 for drawing?

Cool… well, thanks guys!

View poopiekat's profile


4356 posts in 3756 days

#5 posted 02-19-2011 08:35 PM

In my ‘Practical Arts’ training back in ancient times, circa 1966, I had 2 semesters of Mechanical Drawing. This was truly old-school, and the elderly shop teacher emphasized the need for perfect free-hand lettering, which is a skill that I cherish to this day. With our industrial Huddle Boards and other flavor-of-the-month managerial visual aid protocols, I do manage to impress others with awesome lettering. Though generally, everything I’ve ever learned in an academic setting is obsolete….including my woodworking skills. I still, however, make my elevations and cross-sections before building anything of substantial size or cost, so it is certainly money well spent on drafting supplies. I wonder if hand-laid blueprints are even comprehensible to the new generation of cabinet-makers?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3968 days

#6 posted 02-19-2011 08:41 PM

Not necessarily so Loren. I have a 12 inch. 30/60 brass triangle as one of my shop standards. Very accurate, heavy & dose’n stand on edge.

I’ve been drafting for over 60 years. For a living and for myself. It’s a talent that always comes in useful. I have “Turbo-CAD” and “Sketch-Up” the learning curve is too steep. I use my old board & “T”-square. I can’t relate to scale on a monitor screen like I do to scale on paper.

Now to answer your question. Loren is right on this one. The difference in quality on angles is how well they hold up under use. If you use them 8 hours a day you need high quality. For the casual user any brand will do.
As mentioned above get what you can while you can. I can no longer replace my heavy stainless steel “T”-square. They don’t make ‘em anymore.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 02-19-2011 08:43 PM

poopiekat: I am certainly not an engineer, but I used to draw when younger, and strongly considered going to architecture or civil engineering school for college. Didn’t. My bank account is witness to that fact. However, I want to do this by hand, because I’d like to think it’ll be faster FOR ME to get into woodworking drafting if I start by doing things by hand (which I kind of have done already), plus it will be infinitely more enjoyable for me at the beginning if I can accurately THINK and VISUALIZE joinery w/o having to learn a CAD app. I can’t, of course, deny the benefits of CAD programs. I plan to seriously check out SketchUp sometime in the summer.

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 02-19-2011 08:45 PM

Pop: thanks for your account. And thanks for that quote in your signature!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3216 days

#9 posted 02-19-2011 09:26 PM

Milo, When I was in college back in 1973, I took Mechanical Drafting with all phases of drafting like mechanical, electrical, structural steel design (I hated that I still have all of my books, drafting equipment, and the whole works….. Back then the best drafting supplies you could buy was POST…..I still use them all today when I do layout for a project….Before I ever build a piece, I get out the old POST… All of my triangles, TSquare, compass sets, etc. are just as accurate today as they were back then…..If you could find some POST equipment (which is probably as scarse as hen’s teeth), snag them…... enough said….. edit: I did go on to get my Degree in that field, and also a music degree,too…....

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View cabs4less's profile


235 posts in 2784 days

#10 posted 02-19-2011 09:39 PM

depending on the size of your planed drawings I bought a drafting board from staples that is awseome it use a parrelel bar that is better than a t square it was 70.00 but well worht and the triangles are dead on and pick up some architect rulers they will allow you to scale your drawing easier and If I were you I would call my local technical collge that offers a drafting program and see wat thier starter kits are going for I bought mine through the school here and it came with everything You could want except the board
P.S poopiekat I agree bout hand drawn plans and modern workers but I still like them better than cad drawings to me its an art form

-- As Best I Can

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3968 days

#11 posted 02-19-2011 11:14 PM

Rick, Post had the best angles, but K&E had the good stuff when it came to instruments. Old Dietzgen had good stuff too. Like a big dummy I sold my Leroy set on E-Bay. Boy! I wish I had it back. I learned all about Leroy in 1960 at the Virginia State Highway Dept. drawing road maps. After a few years I could run a Leroy almost as fast as I could hand letter. I may just have to get me another. I still even have an old ink drop bow (K&E). You know the old style ink pen before the days of Rap-o-graph. I bought the 1st. one at the cartographic dept. All the old mappers came over , gave it a look and said, “just like a kid to buy some kind of newfangled junk”.

By-the-way. In 1960 we were still working on linen. Ever heard of pounce?


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3090 days

#12 posted 02-19-2011 11:49 PM

Post and K&E are (were?) good stuff back in the day. Any drafting supply store will have what you need – if you can find one. – lol

I still use my triangles (new in 1963) for some setup work, but I haven’t done any pencil drawing for years. I’ve used CAD for so long that it’s way faster for me.

I still have my old Post 6” slide rule. It’s in a wood box with a glass front. A sign inside says “In case of power failure, break glass.” Several years ago, one of my daughter’s friends asked what it was. She had never seen one and had no idea of what it was for.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3968 days

#13 posted 02-20-2011 01:39 AM

Gosh! A slide rule! I bought a new expensive slide rule around 30 years ago for 50 cents. My graphic house had a dozen or so ib a glass bowl. I bet the kids today have a hard time understanding interplation. Boy! It’s been a long time. Slide rules, drafting instruments, Leroy, yea it’s been a long time.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View steliart's profile


2688 posts in 2710 days

#14 posted 02-20-2011 02:06 AM

As a professional graphic designer I have always used Rotring.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

View Rick's profile


9698 posts in 3054 days

#15 posted 02-20-2011 07:11 AM


GOOD thinking! You’ll LEARN to do it by using YOUR BRAINS and you’ll never forget HOW. I had all of the equipment you mentioned in your lead in except the Yadda Yadda which I had to Work Hard On a little later…She was …okay forget that part, it’s Off Topic.

Most of my Equipment was bought through Specialty Drafting & Art Supply Stores. The names are not fresh in my Mind but I still use Staedtler Pencils.

(Just got my Drafting Box out of the Cupboard).......A Staedtler 1/4” Scale Home Furnishings Template and a “Pickett” 1/4” Scale same use. A “Timely” 1/4” Plumbing Fixtures Template and numerous Circle and Oval Templates. “Olsen Ames” adjustable Line Guide for Hand lettering and a few other uses. About 10 French Curves with no name on them. A reasonably new Staedtler 24” T-Square for a few projects I’ve done around here, bought from “Staples” and was 3 times the price of another 24” “House Brand” T-Square. JUNK!

My original training goes back to 1965/1969 and I have a Degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering which I never really used opting for my own Small Construction Company. BUT! It ALL came in Very Handy!! Especially when I could tell an Architect whose Plans we where TRYING to work from….”You can’t do that. It’s a bearing Wall. It has to stay there. ...LOL…

Pictures below. In 30 minutes or so I can Draft Up a ROUGH Drawing of what I’d like to do. You also find out during that process that the Corner you’re working into is NOT Square and the Ceiling Height is 1-1/2” Lower on one side. You found the problem NOW, not when you’re trying to Build it. You have a Bill Of Materials so you can buy all/just what you need etc. etc.

Guess that’s it. Shortly after you see, what you see, a Formal Beamed Ceiling went in, also Pre-Drawn.


-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

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