Just Starting Out

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Upscale wrote:

This isn't making sense to me. If I want to include an adjustment allowance in a CAD design, I do it. Often I don't, because my tooling produces exactly what I specify (0.0015" or so); but sometimes I do (I prefer to make joint tails and pins about 1/64" proud to be sanded flush after assembly). I have control over how much space I allow for glue; and can even make joints so close-fitting that I need to do same-day assembly with a vise or clamp - because tomorrow they may not go together as easily as they do today.
Before CAD, I worked things out at my drafting/drawing table. Designs that I thought of as "keepers" were painstakingly re-drawn in india ink on vellum and filed (anybody else remember doing this?) Now I work with a mouse and burn a CD-ROM. If I want to share a plan, I can e-mail a DXF and the recipient can pull it up on their screen in seconds - no more trips across town for a copy and no more mailing tubes. The nature of drawing and planning haven't really changed, but the amount of time needed to make the drawing have changed significantly - and it's a lot less hassle to share and to customize existing designs.
CAD also facilitates discovery and exploration of new ways of working with wood. I happen to be especially fascinated with joinery, so I used my CAD package to design and build myself a 44" (expandable to 50") jig with which to experiment (there are pictures at http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/cnc_joinery.html ) with all kinds of wood joint-making. While it can be used for traditional through and half-blind dovetail joints, it also allow me to explore other possibilities, and some of them appear to be as visually interesting as and stronger than traditional dovetails. There's drawings at http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/jigs.html along with a pair of photos of my very first CAD-designed joint cut into scrap. Over on a.p.b.w (thread: "Experimental Lap Joints") there're (CAD) drawings of what started out as a simple lap joint before modification to provide additional strength to resist racking and shear forces; and to ensure absolute squareness at assembly time. I probably could have done all of the above without CAD; but it would have been /much/ more difficult.
CAD may not be the tool of choice for everyone; but that doesn't make it not a good tool. I've known people who wouldn't ever make even a pencil sketch before they started a project. Care to make a quick guess about the usual quality of their results?
--
Morris Dovey
West Des Moines, Iowa USA
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"Stephen M"

This is what is called a machined assembly. A good designer knows this and can specify it. Even if it is not be specified, a craftsman can end up there any way he chooses.
The prints do not tell one how to build something. They just say what it's supposed to look like when it's done.

The only thing I hear you saying is that you need to know how to build it before you can do a good job designing it. You are correct, but this should be obvious to most.
Time spent at the front end is time more efficiently spent. You have to make every decision, every measurement, and every part fit into the assembly at some point. Might as well close the design up front to help eliminate scrap and wasted time. This is such a good idea, it is how most of the things in this world get designed and built.
I admire a craftsman who can visualize and execute without much in the way of plans. I'm not that person nor do I strive to be. I also would guess that person has made a lot of firewood in their day to get where they are.
If I might give you some personal and jovial BS - I think you may have arrived at your way of doing things because of your "recompile all" button at work. My 3-6 week lead time for design turns really sucks compared to watching our code guys wait 15-60 minutes for a recompile.
- Nate
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Well said... (certainly more succinctly that I was able to express). This *is* what I was driving at. It was my impression that the OP was a newbie and had not yet dicovered some of the subtlties of execution.
One of the things the OP asked for was "tool descriptions" which I read to mean: "what does a jointer do?"
If I may lightly paraphrase you: "learn to build before you learn to design".
-Steve
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"Robert Neville"

Hi,
Woody's looks like it's pretty specific to, basically, case style kitchen cabinets.
I have about 10 years on Pro/E as a development engineer designing smaller, very high precision assy's with high part counts. I wouldn't recommend it for furniture for someone who doesn't already know it, but it's what I use. I love it. I can bang out just about anything in Pro/E a heck of lot faster than making a messy and mediocre sketch with a pencil. It just takes practice and time. You'll get very fast with anything you learn well.
Solid modeling rocks for any design work. I would find a solid modeler that suites your needs and learn it. Everything else is simply mediocre in comparison and prone to lost productivity due to scrap, rework, design oversights, and just dumb-staring at your work in the shop, scratching your head about how it all might fit together. Further, and obviously, the 3D visualization, the ability to make changes and refinements, the ability to include every last hole and piece of hardware, and the ability to place your design into a scaled context is hugely valuable.
For example, I have a 3D model of my entire house, and all the things I have either built or recently purchased inside it. I did a major remodel to my basement, so that section of the model is fairly detailed. I have not done much with my upstairs, so that part of the model is just a few lines and extrusions representing the exterior walls. My shop is fairly detailed. All my large equipment was modeled into simple rectangular blocks so I could see how they would fit in to the space. I designed a workbench, so that has every last detail down to the tapped hole and routed edge, and sits in the model as well. You can choose the level of detail that suites the need and assemble it into a context that also has a level of detail for the need.
My actual paper drawings tend not to be as detailed as what I would do for my job. I know I have a "working" model in the CAD system where all the design problems are closed. A very simple drawing of that with a few dimensions is all I need to actually build it. Don't need much of a detailed drawing for a rectangular door.
If I didn't know any CAD program, I would personally would consider AutoCad if I was serious about the hobby and saw bigger uses in the future - who knows for what. Otherwise, it seems there are a lot of other non-industrial options like TurboCad (not personally familiar).
Good packages are hard to learn, but seems to me oversimplified packages might be a waste of time when one day you find they won't do something important for you or you can't grow as a designer because you're stuck with some toy design program.
- Nate
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