Back in the late 90’s I got a job doing drafting while I was working my way though engineering school. At the time it was just a way to pay for my car and school, but it was such a monotonous flurry of lines on the screen. I personally would go nuts if all I did was drawing the same basic things over and over. But for a couple of years it was fine and I walked away with a skill that I still use today, AutoCAD.
AutoCAD is a great and handy tool for laying things out to scale. It sure beats using a T-square and triangle. Taking it a step further would be using Autodesk Inventor which is capable of creating 3D parametric models, which are extremely good for lining things up perfectly before making that first cut. I tend to draw things out initially in AutoCAD and then transfer them over to Inventor, just to get that final 3D model.
In my case, I’m making 3 cabinets, so I’m able to use AutoCAD to lay all of the pieces out on my virtual pieces of plywood and do my best to eliminate waste and maximize usage of the plywood. At nearly $50 per 4′ x 8′ sheet, I’m not really in the mood to waste any.
A basic side view (I’m not sure my saw will live up to that dimensional precision though)
Here’s a shot of all of the pieces, prior to layout
Control panel pieces
And now 3x all of the pieces now laid out on the sheets
I can then take these 2D drawings and build a model of the actual cabinet in 3D in Inventor. You can get really fancy and apply materials to parts, determine weights, center of gravity and any other physical property of the model. I’ll cover this in a later post, and also when I get to doing that. Once I have all of the plans finalized, I’ll make pdf and .dwg files available for anyone that’s interested.