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Drafting Certification


Credential: Certificate

The purpose of our Drafting Certificate program is to provide more than basic Architectural and Mechanical Drafting Skills. Our students will receive the skills to create complete Residential Construction, Survey, and Mechanical / Machine drawings. Subjects include drafting practices, and CAD software. Students are taught by a professional General Draftsman who has over 39 years drafting experience.


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How to Draft Full-Size Woodworking Project Plans

Developing your woodworking project plan, for the most part, involves scale drawings.  However, there will be times when the only thing that can provide you with the visualization you really need for working out design and construction issues is a full-size drawing.  Let's take a closer look at when it is useful to have full-size drawings on hand and go over a practical setup that can be used to produce them.  

When full-size woodworking project plans should be used:

The following is an instructive example to consider. Let's say we want to design a dining table that measures 3' x 6'.  It would clearly be impractical to draw all of the side elevations and entire front and plan view at full scale unless you happen to be Paul Bunyan who is making this table for his little friends.  Using the architect's scale is the magical solution.  When a scale of 1 1/2 inches equal to 1 foot is used, all three views can fit easily onto an 11 inch by 17 inch drafting sheet.


These scale drawings serve as a useful reference while building, show you what the lumber requirements are and provide a good sense of the proportions and general look.  However, another thing that this project demonstrates is some of the more common situations where full-size drawings may come into play.    

The joinery is the first place.  Say that the table we are building is a trestle-style dining table that uses a large wedged, through tenon for attaching the stretcher onto the trestle.  A full-sized rendition makes it much easier to accurately work out the details of the joint.  It makes it much easier to grasp the angles, thicknesses and relationships that way.  It might be useful, in fact, to have a full-sized drawing of the whole trestle assembly's side elevation.  The key point here is that you can choose specific areas to draw full size from a large project.        
Curved components are the second most common circumstance.  Say that in one plane the stretcher is curved and meets at an angle with the trestle.  It is best to work out the curve itself and the important junction using a full-size elevation.  A plan view would be necessary as well if our curve was in two planes.  Since you are given an overall sense by the scale drawing and it is a large scale, you only need to draw one half of its symmetrical structure at full size.  Also, those drawings will provide you with a direct measure of the thickness of the stock that is needed for cutting the curves out.       

The following are some other common situations where it can be invaluable to have full-size drawings:

- Curvaceous table legs.  You can more accurately work out subtle curves at full size.  

- Panel and frame.  Thickness relationships can easily be shown by full-size sectional drawings.  

- Chairs.  In this situation full-size drawings most likely are essential since a majority of the angles that are involved are not 90 degrees.  Just like with pieces where special geometry is involved, you can transfer angles using a bevel gauge from the drawing directly to the wood.

- Any purpose-built housing, like a cabinet for housing a certain ceramic piece collection, is worked out most safely at full size on paper.

- Special hardware installation, like a cabinet door's sliding stay, can get confusing at times when there is not a full size drawing to reference.

In short, whenever you are in doubt, make a full-size drawing on paper to clear up any mental or visual confusion to avoid making sawdust.

Assess what size is necessary

Say you would like to have a full-size plan view of your trestle dining table so that you can appreciate better how far its top extends past the base assembly in order to assess the available legroom and balance of its structure.  It isn't necessary to have a Bunyan-sized drawing on a gigantic sheet of paper.  Having a one half plan view would provide you with all of the necessary information since the structure is symmetrical.  A one-quarter view, in fact, would probably be sufficient.     

The basic idea here is drawing whatever you need for making the piece. Remember that full-size drawings don't replace mockups.  A mockup provides you with real body-on, eyes-on, hands-on senses of space and size relationships.  Your measured drawings should finalize these with precision.    

Tools needed to create your project plans

For full-sized drawings, an ad hoc, inexpensive setup will work perfectly fine.  You can use a 3/4 inch sheet of medium density fiberboard as your drawing surface.  Home centers have sheets up to 4 x 8 feet available that can be cut into whatever size you need.  The fiberboard is incredibly flat and very smooth, unlike most plywood.  However, it is quite heavy.  It might be useful to use beveled blocks to raise the back edge up a couple of inches.       

The following gear can be found at an art supply store.  For making parallel lines you will want a T-square ($10-$20) with a 48 inch or 36 inch blade that you hold against one of the straight edge's of your fiberboard.  Large 45/45/90 and 30/60/90 plastic drafting triangles get held against the T-square blade for making basic angled and perpendicular lines.  For other angles, direct geometry or a protractor is used.  

You will want to use 16 pound vellum as well.  It is available in rolls that are up to 42 inches wide, and takes erasures very well.  Use blue Painter's Tape to secure the vellum onto the fiberboard.  I prefer using 2H lead inside a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil since you don't have to sharpen it and it makes consistent lines.  Another option is using a 2 mm lead inside of a lead holder.  However, you will need to use a lead pointer to sharpen it frequently.     

For measurements, a thin steel rule should be used.  It should be either 24 inches or a set containing 18 inches and 36 inches.  For clean erasures, use a plastic eraser.  To avoid having your work get smudged, use a drafting brush to sweep away the crumbs.  For accuracy and neatness, use an eraser shield.      

Accu Arc flexible plastic curves, ranging from 18 inches up to 48 inches, are excellent to draw fair curves with.  It is also helpful to have a good supply of French curves.

Imagine, sketch, review, mockup, draw and finally build!

About The Author:

Ted Leger is a woodworking enthusiast who turned his hobby into a passion. You can find more woodworking tips and advice from him at his woodworking blog, http://www.WooDesigner.net

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