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CAD or Old Style Drafting???

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  • CAD or Old Style Drafting???

    There are times when I wish I had kept better notes and diagrams on some of my projects. But at the time I always figured ah...... I'll never have to make that part again. Well guess what, some times you have to, and then I'm wasting time trying to remember or figure out how I did something. Usually my designs and ideas just seem to appear in my mind and I have no problem converting those mental images into actual parts. Often I have to jot down dimensions and a quick sketch but that is usually about it. I've found it more time consuming to draft up a detailed blue print than to make the actual part. Now as I find all these notes scattered about the shop, some I remember and some I have no clue as to what they were for, I find myself whishing I had done better in the note making department, like what the part was for, the date I made it, type of material, steps I took in making it etc. etc. but I didn't. So this leads me to my next question........ do you guys prefer using CAD of some type of computer program ???? which would make saving the drawing easy or do you prefer old style drafting???? I tend to favor drafting, maybe because I'm old school, but some of these CAD programs I've played with are just way too time consuming to learn. Any one with me here???


  • #2
    It depends on "What floats your boat". Some people can visualize an object, and some can turn that image into a drawing. Others have a firm grasp of CAD and can easily crank out a CAD drawing or even a 3D rendering.

    I usually go straight from a mental image to metal...then, when it doesn't work, I do a CAD rendering of it and figure out why my imagination brewed up a defective part. It's usually my own fault. My imagination has no scaling or dimensioning functions, so, sometimes I get square gears running against lumpy racks, and high stress castings made out of marshmallows.

    Being able to express your thoughts in a drawing is an acquired talent. Many times I find myself wishing I'd made a drawing of something I made, so I can reproduce it.
    Sometimes I find myself in my CAD program, in the "fishmarket mode".....
    For the halibut.
    No good deed goes unpunished.


    • #3
      I'm backwards on designing.
      I 'play' with cad, but when I want to actually make something it's generally straight from my head to whatever material I'm using.
      Then, when it's all done and working, if needed I'll run through and reproduce it on paper.

      I do want to get more proficient with cad though, being able to animate the drawing would be an advantage in some cases.


      • #4
        Granted I'll still be a noob for another decade or three but I find myself needing to noodle then measure what I did. Of course that says rather a lot about what it is I make.

        But I've always found the ramp-up on CAD software and effective drafting (never having learned it) too high at any given moment.

        Need to learn something though. My parts are trying to get more complex and I'm burning through a lot of stock on mistakes.
        Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


        • #5
          I feel your pain Joe. I was lucky enough to have the need to learn 2D CAD for a hobby project 12 years ago and to have a friend down the street that knew enough CAD to show me the basics on TurboCAD. It took me quite a few nights of me asking dumb questions and him showing me but I wouldn't have it any other way now. I use it for everything.

          All the CAD programs have a bewildering array of buttons & icons to confuse you but most machining projects (wood or metal) need only a few drawing tools. If you could find a willing helper near you to cut through all the crap & show you enough basics to get you going you'd be very happy.

          It doesn't have to be a fancy drawing to get the job done and the accuracy is mind-boggling. Angles & circles & radii are a piece of cake. You can type text instructions right on the drawing and modify to your heart's desire, then print it and carry it right to the machine.

          The youngsters will say jump right in and learn 3D CAD but you probably don't really need that. I learned it for (to me) a complex isometric view for a magazine article but it was a huge learning curve and would've been IMPOSSIBLE for me when I first started.

          Good luck!

          "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

          "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton


          • #6
            I have other software and haven't given Sketchup, Google's free 3D drawing
            a try, but friends have taken to it and there are many adherents
            here on HSM. Perhaps Evan has provided best evidence of successfully putting
            this tool to work.

            You have little to lose, why not have a go with Sketchup ?



            • #7
              I have auto CAD here or mechanicle desk top, what evere it is but I really need someone to sit down and get me started on the basics of it. I've played around with it off and on over the last few years but haven't been able to get anywhere with it to where it would be of benifit to me.



              • #8
                I learned old school drafting and I was very capable at it, I still have a drafting table, triangles, parallel bar and all the extras. About 15 years ago I bought TurboCad. I played around with it, but never got very far. Several years later I took an AutoCad class. I ended up taking another because the price was right. I then got a job where I used it at least weekly. I went back to TurboCad, and it still didn't make a lot of sense.

                If I hadn't used AutoCad while working, I probably would have forgotten most of it. I still use it for CNC layouts, and a few other things. Most of my work is now done in Inventor, and it's far better for most of what I do.

                My drafting table has black plastic on it and plants living under it's overhead fluorescent lighting. I'm fairly sure there is a parallel bar under there, but I haven't seen it in years.


                • #9
                  I find one of the most useful functions of CAD is to produce scale drawings for shop use. These can be used for patterns and you don't even have to dimension it, just measure right off the drawing. Be cautious with this and always check scale because some printers don't print to scale.

                  I am proficient with Pro/E (solid modeling) in my day job so it comes easy for me. At home simple stuff gets sketched on the steel workbench with a Sharpie (take a digital photo if you need a record), moderate complexity gets pencil and paper, then tricky stuff I use Pro/E at work.

                  I did get all the way to state drafting (pencil, not CAD) competition when I was in high school (early '80s).
                  Last edited by strokersix; 09-15-2011, 05:27 PM.


                  • #10
                    I learned drafting in school and actually did use it from time to time to design thing. Most of the time I work from my head but the complexity of some of my projects makes it necessary to plan in advance.

                    3D CAD is the only way to go. There is much more to design than dimensioning parts. It gives you the chance to find mistakes that can be very hard to correct later. It also allows you to fine tune the design in advance instead of after the fact.

                    I do recommend SketchUp for several reasons. It's free and reasonably intuitive which is not the case with the many other CAD applications I have tried. I have many different CAD 2D and 3D programs and mostly don't like them at all. Even SketchUp has some serious drawbacks but for me it is the best of a bad lot.

                    All CAD programs have a fairly steep learning curve. SketchUp has a huge user community that is ready to help, especially on the Sketchucation forum. Learning something like SketchUp is going to take a month of daily practice before you get to the point that you don't feel baffled every time you use it.

                    Learning how to really use it proficiently will take much longer but that is the case with any complex software. It is no different than any other tool. All multi purpose complex tools have a long learning curve. CAD is a very handy tool to have in your kit.
                    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                    • #11
                      I like to use CAD programs mainly to prevent me from designing parts that can't theoretically exist in real life, holes overlapping edges, etc.

                      These days, most programs come with tutorials built in or available on line, so you can get up and running in a short time. I think it took me about 1-2 days each to learn Solidworks and Inventor up to a basic level.


                      • #12
                        Old school background but have 2D CAD experience.

                        Hi Everyone,

                        Like a lot of people here I learned standard drawing way back when.

                        Still have my drafting equipment but last used my table for holding two computers.

                        I kept updating my TurboCAD ever other upgrade and finally stopped 'cuz I've never done anything but 2D w/it. Just too busy & as so many have said too time consuming to learn.

                        Heck, even these machinist forums are too time consuming - but I really appreciate all the talent/humor/teasing/camaraderie too much to even consider not stopping by!

                        Any how, I wanted to add a detail that I never considered.

                        I designed a clock movement years ago when I lived in Wisconsin. Used conventional paper & pencil. Because I am the same as some others here, I never spent a lot of time dimensioning every detail - just made sure that my pencil was sharp & took great pains to draw as accurately as possible. That way if I needed a dimension I could just scale the print.

                        After moving around the country & settling in Arizona I found that the humidity difference, or lack of humidity out here, shrunk the papers. Not always evenly either.

                        So I have converted everything CAD & now 'only' worry about losing it to an electronic glitch!

                        I also like it that when I use CAD, all the dimensions/relationships are already there so getting a dimension I hadn't considered is a snap.

                        Plus, I just realized that it has been years since I used my trig tables to figure out some angle or distance - but then I need a calculator these days to see if I got the right change from a vending machine.

                        Just my 2 cents (probably 8.143 cents now due to inflation).
                        Last edited by jhe.1973; 09-16-2011, 01:44 AM.
                        Best wishes to ya’ll.



                        "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

                        "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

                        Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona


                        • #13
                          Not all CAD programs have a steep learning curve for those who were trained at a board. VERSA CAD is extremely intuitive and will run circles around AUTOCAD.

                          3D programs such as solid works require an entirely different mental approach than 2D.

                          It is not unusual for the time to generate dwgs for third party use to actually take longer to generate than it takes to produce the part.

                          The need for dwgs is totally dependent upon the complexity of the part/parts/product. From the simplest to the most difficult: metal image; free hand sketch; dwg; etc.

                          Generally speaking the simplest tool to accomplish the required task is usually the most productive.


                          • #14
                            I can hand draft, use 2d CAD, as well as 4 different 3d programs, and can honestly say 3d is a necessity at work. Simply put, for the complex engine parts I deal with daily I can do days worth of hand or even 2d drafting in minutes.

                            3d modeling is also extremely useful when you have a question about a complex assembly that would otherwise involve cross referencing dozens of prints.
                            "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by justanengineer
                              I can hand draft, use 2d CAD, as well as 4 different 3d programs, and can honestly say 3d is a necessity at work. Simply put, for the complex engine parts I deal with daily I can do days worth of hand or even 2d drafting in minutes.

                              3d modeling is also extremely useful when you have a question about a complex assembly that would otherwise involve cross referencing dozens of prints.
                              Having to use these programs all day long at work would make you an expert at using them. But for guys like me and many others that have to learn them in out spare time at night or when time allows is not an easy task.