– by Matty D –

Why You Want to Learn This Stuff

Two words: Shop Culture.

Shop culture is about a lifestyle devoted to lifelong learning and improvement in all areas relevant to shop work.

 Drafting, and by extension computer aided design (CAD), is one of those skills that can make us better craftsman by improving our control over our projects and increasing the ways in which we can interact with the work.

3D Computer Aided Design for Dummies

Dummies like me that is.

Drawing plans must be in my blood, because I was doing it from a very early age. Later, when I was doing serious work in residential construction, I came to see the value of stepping up from basic drawing to something more like computer-aided design. I was using drawing software, like adobe illustrator, to make drawings for things like building home additions and kitchen remodels. At first I was just trying to make nice drawings so that I could show my prospective customers what I could do for them. And it worked! When customers could visualize what was proposed they were much more likely to authorize the project. But the more I drew, the more I saw the value of the drawings for myself as the builder. I could basically build stuff inside the computer before I ever laid a hand on a hammer or a 2 x 4. I could see potential problems before I would actually have to deal with them and I could get a lot of information for my materials list, Which was crucial to knowing what my costs would be.

I am not a serious woodworker, but I am reading, with great interest, that more and more, woodworkers are using this free software product, Sketch Up Make, to build furniture in virtual reality before committing their designs to actual construction. 

I have always wanted to step up to a 3-D CAD software, But the prices were shocking and even when I took advantage of free trials, I found the learning curve to be steep and anything but intuitive. Well the folks at Trimble, the producers of Sketchup Make, have produced a CAD product that is more like a game and less like a college math class.

So I hope you noticed that I said the product is free. So there’s no reason not to give it a try. It is also extremely well supported and has a gigantic community of users. There is also an open source library of 3-D objects, things that other people have already built and contributed to the library that you can download and make a part of your drawings. And there are countless tutorials on YouTube to give you ideas and get you up and running very quickly. It’s fun and I think it can help the user to become better at whatever kind of practical project hacker he wants to be.

As Lord and High Chancellor of WrenchTech Garage I wholeheartedly recommend Sketchup Make

See how one successful woodworker used Sketchup to start a furniture making business.

For those who prefer a more traditional CAD drafting solution take a look at the free 2D solution, DraftSight, from Dassault Systems, the makers of SolidWorks, a very well respected package for 3-D modeling

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