Drafting programs or Good old pencil and paper.

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Forum topic by 1978 posted 07-17-2008 02:59 PM 1849 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 1978's profile


167 posts in 3729 days

07-17-2008 02:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question traditional modern resource

Which do you prefer, drafting programs or pencil and paper to design plans (or both)? If programs are the way you design, which program do you use? Pencil and paper, which supplies do you use?

45 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3888 days

#1 posted 07-17-2008 03:09 PM

i like to work out my design on paper with no dimensions just really trying to figure out what i want. then i go onto sketchup and design it with all the dimensions but i don’t really put any detail into it i just want to get a rough image so i can get some lumber and most of my thinking is while in the shop while i have the basics worked out to get me started, but i feel that sketchup can’t tell you what’s gonna happen in the shop so thats where i figure out most of my dimensions but its good to have the rough image and design from sketchup.

View hippyengineer's profile


5 posts in 3721 days

#2 posted 07-17-2008 03:19 PM

I began as a draftsman and really enjoyed the tactile aspect of the board and pencil. When CAD came along I got to play with it but I was not able to use it so much until the last 5 years. On my first project, a dresser for my newborn, I approached it like a machinist. The 3-D model and drawings I pumped out of my CAD program are LAW and there should be no changes in the shop. Yeah, right!!! I think I am going to have to go back to the drafting board for basic design, CAD for an overall model and a preliminary cutlist, and then expect to adapt to any changes in the shop.

View lew's profile


12269 posts in 3875 days

#3 posted 07-17-2008 03:26 PM

Since I’m an old fart and learned the pencil method, I feel more comfortable with doing it that way.

Having said that, my whole career has been in computers and electronics so I often feel like I “need” to learn the “modern”way, but he learning curve on most drawing programs- including Sketchup- can be steep.

I’d rather spend my time in the shop actually making sawdust so out of frustration- I go back to the pencil and paper method.

Our fellow(?) Lumberjock- Betsy- has started a blog on learning Sketchup. I am looking forward to becoming more efficient by learning along with her.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4434 days

#4 posted 07-17-2008 04:32 PM

... any chunk of scrap and a #2 pencil …if I can find it…

View jtdyal's profile


74 posts in 3769 days

#5 posted 07-17-2008 04:34 PM

I grab the closest thing. I just have to get that picture out of my head or I want sleep. (anyone else that way?)

I have been using CAD sense age 8. ya, really. I am an Engineer by trade (or birth not sure). I have used just about every thing out there. I find that because CAD is exact it hinders my conceptual thinking. One reasons I like SketchUp is the “styles” feature. It helps control my OCD tendencies. Then I will go back and start over if it is a project where I need to figure in the width of the slides before I cut the draws for a large cabinet.

But I find my self re-designing pieces in the middle of a project. For that I use a print of the CAD drawing and a fine pencil to edit it. That way I can get the scale right.

But my favorite to start off with is a Sharpie (not the small one) and a large 22”x34” stack of paper. My wife thinks I buy those for the kids to color on. I have also use the oversize crayons to think about how pieces will overlap. And heaven help me if I am in the garage with a Sharpie when an Idea hits. Scrap wood, my hand, a 4×8 sheet of MDF, the walls,... nothing is safe. (anyone else that way? or am I a little crazy?)

-- ~jtd

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3834 days

#6 posted 07-17-2008 04:48 PM

Sharpie (or a #2) and plain white copy paper, and a fine metal ruler. CAD takes too long for me. I can draft out a room on paper in a short time. I’d have to learn CAD.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4426 days

#7 posted 07-17-2008 05:24 PM

my own blood and the shop wall….

No no, pencil and paper, always.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View CharlieM1958's profile


16276 posts in 4338 days

#8 posted 07-17-2008 05:36 PM

I hate to be a heretic, but I rarely even use a pencil (except for marking a cut line). I pretty much just build from the mental picture. If certain dimensions are going to be critical because of what a piece is being used for, or where it is going, I’ll jot down a few notes, but that’s about it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 07-17-2008 06:05 PM

I have no set method for design. If it’s real simple, I use the build it as you go/Charlie method. (no reflection on you Charlie, lol) Usually, I use a pencil and paper. I was a manual drafter for 10 years before we went to CAD in the mid eighties. If I have to figure a bunch of spacing and other dimensions to figure, I go with AutoCad or Sketchup.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

795 posts in 3952 days

#10 posted 07-17-2008 06:12 PM

SKetchup for anything past a pencil mock-up.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5622 posts in 3832 days

#11 posted 07-17-2008 07:13 PM

I’m with teenage woodworker, I use SU to get the general concetp down and then head into the shop. I find I build it once on the computer and then really build it in the shop…it seems to save me a lot of figuring out stumbling if I’ve figured it out on the computer first.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 4077 days

#12 posted 07-17-2008 07:44 PM

AutoCAD, Sketchup, Cabinetvision, MasterCAM, drafting board…in that order!


View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4108 days

#13 posted 07-17-2008 07:54 PM

You can’t beat a pencil and paper for a quick rough drawing to work out the basic design.

Once you have that you can’t beat a CAD program for the final working drawings.

I use AutoCAD for speed (been using it for about 20 years), but trying to get the hang of Sketchup
for the “prettyness” of the 3D drawings.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Slacker's profile


178 posts in 3821 days

#14 posted 07-17-2008 08:19 PM

I use any and all of the above…

-- Adapt, improvise, overcome

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4021 days

#15 posted 07-17-2008 09:19 PM

I’m 97.2% (approx) with Charlie M. When something has to ‘fit’, I’ll turn to pencil and paper or an offcut of wood.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

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