View Full Version : Does anyone still draw by hand

14th May 2020, 06:01 PM
I am not that old (especially compared to some of the masters here) but I have not really tried any of the computer design things, my boss bless her soul can not visualise anything wen I am describing it so I always have to draw things out for her rough of detailed as long as it a picture,


But is it becoming a lost art form?

14th May 2020, 06:16 PM
I still draw my projects out in scale when necessary. I was able to draw out the current project full scale on my bench top which has been helpful.

14th May 2020, 06:46 PM
My projects are usually quite "fluid".

I usually start by imagining projects in my head as a series of independent steps (usually in bed when I can't sleep), over for several days. I repeatedly rotate and imagine the steps from all sides. Once things are firmed up I might scribble/sketch (I would not call it drawing) a few perspectives on paper to save me filling up my memory.

Usually I'm working to the limits of my (often Scrap) materials so don't worry too much about precise measurements until its time to start cutting. If I see improvements etc I often change a lot of things on the fly.

Later, often when the project is finished, I might knock up a schematic on the computer but even though these often have measurements on them, the drawings are not usually to scale.

I reckon I only draw maybe 10% of my plans to actual scale.

This was the only thing committed to paper top make the gizmo shown below.
It includes the parts list/ordering numbers.


14th May 2020, 06:48 PM
I still do all my drawings by hand.
Nearly all the architects I am involved with do the same for conceptual drawings and only get put to CAD for construction or council submission

Hand drawings have soul and character

14th May 2020, 06:48 PM
I work on computers all day so i try to avoid them in my free time. I find sketching out by hand quite therapeutic.



14th May 2020, 07:06 PM
I usually design things on the back of an envelope, I am looking to upgrade to a drafting table if I can find a reasonable priced one close by. I am a self confessed technophobe though, so as much as I like the thought of CAD I cant see myself ever learning to use it.

Cheers Andrew

Sir Stinkalot
14th May 2020, 07:15 PM
I do the two extremes .... it’s either rough and ready like Bob’s images, or it fully documented - mostly in 3D.

Chief Tiff
14th May 2020, 07:18 PM
Most of my "plans" are usually of the back-of-a-fag-packet quick sketch with rough measurements, I keep a large children's drawing book on my bench for this.

However; at school in the UK I studied Geometric & Technical drawing. I still have my drawing board and tee-square that I started using at the age of 13 and these are what I pull out when I properly need to design stuff. With every dimension to scale it provides me with an accurate cutting list and double checks the initial back-of-fag-packet calculated dimensions!

I usually first draw it to scale as an isometric projection to see how it looks and to make sure the design is as requested; then I do a proper set of 1st angle projection technical drawings including whatever joinery methods I'm using. Following the 7 P's principle in this way massively reduces the opportunities for Mr Cock-Up to pay a visit. Reduces... :rolleyes:

14th May 2020, 07:19 PM
I draw everything. Hand sketches for quick ideas and silly old "Paint" so I can swap things around without having to redraw. As for CAD I find it a handy tool for passing on info to fabricators, but at design stage I prefer the more creative nature of hand sketching rather than being limited to CAD characters. Particularly for a bespoke customer.

14th May 2020, 08:10 PM
If I do drawings, first by hand to get concept then if making usually do a scaled drawing for larger projects. If doing some detailed joints I do a full scaled drawing by hand.
as then name says

14th May 2020, 09:17 PM
Like Chief, I also studied technical drawing all through high school. Throughout my adult life when I wanted something precise I too would pull out the drawing board and “tools” and do my proper technical drawings.

About five years ago I gave sketch-up a go but got fed up with its limitations and abandoned it. A couple of years ago however I stumbled onto Fusion 360. As far as I’m concerned now, I may as well chop up my drawing board for kindling. I can draw, revise and design much faster than I ever could with paper (or asetate).

Having said that, I still sketch ideas on paper. In fact I have a notebook that lives next to my work bench to jot concepts down.

14th May 2020, 11:54 PM
Yep I've been sketching a fair bit more since reading Mike Pekovich's book 'The How and Why of Woodworking'.


Usually just sketching random shapes until something comes to mind. If I already know what I want in my head I head to SketchUp as it's far easier to get a good idea for how things will hang together.

15th May 2020, 12:14 AM
Yep, I still draw all my plans. Sometimes I use a ruler to make the lines straight.

15th May 2020, 12:54 AM
If someone wants a quick 5 min sketch, I do on what ever is available, paper, off cut, sheet material but then I do the finished drawing in CAD.
At tech when I was an apprentice, I consistently got A or A+ for my drawings but must admit that to do that now I would be lucky to get -F.
The beauty of CAD is you can be accurate to almost micron level if required and make as many copies of an overall subject and apply several variations to satisfy the end project requirement or client.
I'm fortunate in that I can visualize in 3D in my mind so for me CAD is the perfect fit.

Robson Valley
15th May 2020, 05:34 AM
I have always enjoyed drawing/sketching and painting watercolors.
What you see are my thoughts, the concepts, on paper.
I don't believe that I'm anywhere near mentally ready to use CAD.

Even a carving has to fit some chunk of available wood.
I make all my edits with different colored pencils to tell them apart.

15th May 2020, 09:37 AM
Most of my "plans" are usually of the back-of-a-fag-packet quick sketch with rough measurements, I keep a large children's drawing book on my bench for this.

However; at school in the UK I studied Geometric & Technical drawing. I still have my drawing board and tee-square that I started using at the age of 13 and these are what I pull out when I properly need to design stuff. With every dimension to scale it provides me with an accurate cutting list and double checks the initial back-of-fag-packet calculated dimensions!

I usually first draw it to scale as an isometric projection to see how it looks and to make sure the design is as requested; then I do a proper set of 1st angle projection technical drawings including whatever joinery methods I'm using. Following the 7 P's principle in this way massively reduces the opportunities for Mr Cock-Up to pay a visit. Reduces... :rolleyes:

So I am not the only one with my Grade 7 TD board and tee square hanging on the wall of the shed :2tsup:

15th May 2020, 02:31 PM
Mine is in the back room of the house.

I learned autocad in the late 80's hated it. Slow and frustrating. In 05 I got a job as a design draftsman using NX. Within a few months I could build a model so much faster than I could draw, and it allowed me to check every clearance. No more calculations.

So that's how I do it now and if I need a drawing the modelling packages allow those to be built fast.

More recently I've been using the free autodesk package fusion 360, but I haven't fired it up in months as I'm busy doing other things.

The trick with modelling packages is you use them like you were making something for real. You create a primitive (say a block) then cut bits off it and stick bits on until it's the right shape. Make the next part then make an assembly and stick them all together. I could model up a table in about 10 minutes and a chair in maybe 20. You can view every fit and correct mistakes instantly, try pretty things like flutes and see how they look.

But I still have my drafting gear for when that solar flare hits :D

15th May 2020, 04:01 PM
So I am not the only one with my Grade 7 TD board and tee square hanging on the wall of the shed :2tsup:

I usually rough out designs on scraps of paper. I do use CAD (Fusion360) for some things, but only when its complex or I want an accurate idea of parts placement.

I have often pondered if the "3D Drawing Board" would be worth-while replacement for a TD board - Its quite a cleaver system. (If you can't be bothered watching the whole thing, check out the first 60 seconds & the section from about 3:35 to 3:45 to get an idea on its functions)


The price has come WAY down over the years.
3D Drawing Board | Designability Group (http://designability.com.au/equipment/3d-drawing-board/)

15th May 2020, 04:15 PM
I start on scrap paper, then go to an A3 graph paper pad.
For smaller drawings I use half a page at a time.

15th May 2020, 04:40 PM
I still draw by hand as well, for rough plans it's just easier than CAD

19th May 2020, 12:30 PM
My boat builder still draws by hand - and he can't use a ruler either - its enormously frustrating because it means that we often aren't quite sure what we are going to get... other than a $100,000+ boat

22nd May 2020, 01:59 PM
Yeah I draw everything on the drawing board . Email pictures to clients and go from there .
Clients like the paper and pencil drawings. Here's a few I did last week .

Some bedside tables . I had to draw these about six times to get to where the decorator was happy . It started with the left one and ended with the right. They don't take long to do.

I don't need to do perspective drawings at all. I was shown at trade school but find its only of use when drawing a room with furniture placed in the room . Something I never need to do . Face side and Plan view is all that's needed mostly, and sometimes detailed internal construction is needed for me not the client.


I'm building a tower scaffold atm. So I can build my dust extraction . Ive got to hang pipes off a roof 4.7 meters off the ground. I Did lots of rough sketches on scrap at the computer then went to the drawing board. Should have it assembled today I hope. Its roughly 2.4 x 1.640 x 4.2 high . I changed some dimensions as I was making it .

Once I know whats being made exactly a cutting list is made and the build happens from that .

Drawing on computer or paper , cutting list . Double checking . Its the only way to go to avoid mistakes .


Old Croc
25th May 2020, 01:01 AM
I don't own a computer so the tablet is quite limiting so it's CAD for me, that's Cardboard Aided Drawing. Loved tech drawing at high school and have never changed.

28th May 2020, 02:35 PM
I also enjoyed Tech Drawing when at school and did very well at it. My teacher was disappointed when I got an apprenticeship and left before the end of that year.
Since then I have learnt how to use Acad for 2D and then moved on to Solidworks and now trying to learn Fusion 360 as one of my versions of Solidworks has decided to stop working (maybe mr Microsoft caught up with me). All of these have been self taught as I just like being able to produce something in print that matches the accuracy that I try to achieve when making it. I often design up a project for my wood club for members to make and it's good to be able to show them a 3d model on paper as they can visualise the end product better and I am not good at hand sketching. When drawing on the computer, changes are easily done without making a mess on paper rubbing out etc. I normally just jot down a bit of a sketch on paper and then go to the computer at night and draw it up.
Having said that, I do admire people who can produce a good conceptual sketch on paper, but that's not me.

28th May 2020, 10:52 PM
My circumstances as well - work with what you’ve got and plan accordingly. I love graph paper for all planning, including the two-story single rooms addition ongoing now. Great for determining materials lists from the home center. Most woodworking is ‘measure as we go’ with a reference to book plans for direction.

I think as long as you do SOME sort of planning your success rate will be higher. I do nothing without a plan of some sort...

6th Jun 2020, 11:01 PM
Spent 5 years at uni studying engineering and this is how I still work at home, am replacing a roller shutter door with some second hand timber doors which apparantly came from a monastery in Bendigo Vic...intersesting storey but I digress, this is my framing plan.


7th Jun 2020, 03:51 AM
I'm primitive probably. I don't draw at all and I don't use plans, and I avoid measuring as much as possible. By not measuring I mean if I have to cut a piece to fit it somewhere I prefer, if I can, to lay it where it has to go, mark it, and cut to the mark. And god forbid I never use a computer for woodworking, I mean I'm sitting in front of a computer all day for work, when I finally get some shed time last thing I want to do is sit on the damn thing again.

What I usually do is try to find which is the main piece that will determine the dimensions of all the other pieces. I take a basic measurement for that and I cut that first. Then I find the next most important piece and make a decision on the dimensions of that, and cut. And so on. I try to think what else each piece affects and what I'm trying to achieve with this project, and think as many steps ahead as I can, and I make design decisions as I go. I'm basically in a creative trance at that point, and being in that state is exactly what I love about woodworking and any other craft I might delve into. it's a free flowing process and having plans kinda hurts it for me, and having to use a computer or deal with numbers kills it entirely.

Of course all this is possible because I never make the same thing twice. I'm only in this game for the creativity, that's the only thing that matters to me.
And, to be clear, I don't really make anything super complex.

Robson Valley
7th Jun 2020, 06:54 PM
I carve what I see in the wood. Might be 10 minutes, might be several years to see.
I make some hand drawings to consolidate my thoughts. I enjoy the drawing part.
Common paper size is 11" x 17" copy paper.
For larger pole-type carvings, I have a "banquet roll" of white paper. 36" wide x 100' long ( maybe 60 cm x 30m?)

If I have added any innovation, it is this:
I erase nothing. Never. I refuse to hesitate and back up.
Instead, I make alterations on the drawings with different color pencils so I can compare possibilities.

Stewie D
14th Jun 2020, 10:14 AM
Cad all the way except for initial sketches but that is dependent on what I'm drawing and for whom. It's easy to get a model up and then view it from any angle but I have the advantage of first being a chippy and then having had 15 years of drawing plans fulltime. For someone who is just starting to draw using Cad for the first time it could be a steep leaning curve depending on what package you are using.
The app I use is an old version of Vectorworks and is geared more to architectural than 3D but it suffices for what I want it to do. Some of the other apps are very good for 3D. Later versions of VW are more in tune with this as well as BIM takes over.


24th Jun 2020, 01:14 PM
Could never get my head around CAD.

As a woodcarver, turner and restorer (mostly). All my work was hand drawn. initial sketches rough draft and full size finished drawings complete with full 3D shading as most people have difficulty visualising a 3D object from a flat line drawing. Used to get end rolls of paper from The Book Printer in Maryborough Vic. Bolts were usually around 8 - 10 meters long and approx 1mt wide. Used pencils from 6H - 5B, rubber(s), French curve, set squares, compass sets (variety of sizes) and other drawing paraphernalia. Had to be a bit of an artist back then.

Final drawings of many items were then transferred to heavy cardboard for light use patterns or 3 ply and made into patterns for multiple use. eg: cabriole legs, C scrolls, S scrolls, shells, etc.

Single or low use drawings were often photocopied or traced onto sheet(s) of paper and glued onto the work piece for carving. Still have a big cadboard drum with lots of drawings in tubes along with folders somewhere that weren't lost or destroyed when we moved from Newstead to Welshmans Reef to Geelong South to Newtown and finally to Moolap. :sweat:

Had a friend years ago spent months on a very complex CAD drawing for tramline in (from memory) San Francisco his last day of working on very complex part of a curved section the program froze and nothing he couldn't get it to work. So after waiting a few hours until someone was up in USA rang CAD manufacturer and spoke to their troubleshooting dept. Whereupon he was old it was a known problem and they had a fix for it but it would cost (Memory again) US$60 plus postage and they would send a floppy disc with the fix on it. Bear in mind that this was around 25 or so years ago and CAD cost many thousands of dollars and was sort-of in its infancy.

My friend went right off the brain because there was nothing ever mentioned about this known problem and what had a locked up even with the fix would be lost, etc.... Anyhow, long story short he turned the air blue :arge:and the person on the other end of the phone said, "I'm sorry sir but I'm a Christian and can't listen to this." then hung-up.

My friend, still in a fit of rage and looking for blood, rang back and screamed "put that Christian bastar:censored2:d back in the line"..... and was promptly hung up on again.

He went off CAD for a while after that. Strangely enough he ended up with a couple of govt contracts to design stuff and also taught CAD to budding designers, etc.

Sorry for the rant. In our 15th week of lockdown :screwy: and needed a bit of a release. Hehehe. :lbs:

25th Jun 2020, 01:14 PM
Early cad was really only useful if you needed a lot of copies or if you manufactured a line of similar products. You could knock out the first one and adjust things to create drawings quickly for our whole range.

Modelers though are a different beast. They take a massive amount of basic work out of the deign process. They tell you immediately if your parts fit together, what they weight, center of gravity of parts and assemblies. Depending on the product you can work machines through their range of movement and look for collisions.

And if you are using routine things like lengths of RHS and basic machined components I can build them in less than a minute each and put an assembly together really fast.

But if you are building organic shapes that's a whole other discipline. I've seen surface modelers at work and it's remarkable but I think I'd have a nervous breakdown trying to do that stuff. My brain just isn't wired for freehand.

25th Jun 2020, 06:03 PM
I'm no CAD guru or anything, nor do I build a lot of things... but to me the simple fact that manufacturing has come such a long way means the move to 3d CAD in some way is inevitable, if you're ever to try things you can't just cut and create...

Want to design a CNC cut knob to replace one on a bandsaw? Want to 3d print a magnet holder for something? There's just two simple things that are achievable in-house today, whereas they were specialty manufacturing years ago.

25th Jun 2020, 11:21 PM
Had a perfect example today of how I like to work; I need to make up a small cutter guard for one of our machines. I basically know how I want it to look and function, so it's easiest to do a rough sketch on paper at the machine and scribble down dimensions.


But I also need to see it drawn properly to scale to make sure that I haven't missed anything and to see what size corner radius will look good, so it's off to autocad to make a proper production drawing.


26th Jun 2020, 07:38 PM
Taking that part as an example I could build a 3D model of it in a few minutes. It'd probably take me longer to produce a drawing from the model, unless I used auto dimension..but I could do the whole job in about 10 minutes.

Robson Valley
28th Jun 2020, 04:47 PM
Here in the Pacific Northwest, First Nations have very distinctive drawing art and carving styles.
There are instruction books with lessons to teach you how to draw the design elements.
Broadly, there are 4 distinctly different carving/art styles and all else of probably a fake.

Many carvers, me included, get tired of original drawings for ovoids and trigons and feathers and eyes.
In the old days, templates were cut out of birch bark for repetitive use.
These days, the stencils in a grand range of sizes get cut out of plastic sheet.
Not so different from the Staedler drawing/drafting stencil templates.

The great advantage comes with needing design elements to the left and right of a central line for symmetry.

29th Jun 2020, 11:59 PM
regarding @ubeaut's rant ...

Well, that was my good chuckle for the day, thanks.
I totally get that thing about 25 years or so ago. Just how many software products had little quirks like that. Ye gods.
I had both Word 2 and MS Worx eat documents and casually destroy the backup copies while they were at it. (which
is why I quit using MS programs) - I had a Microsoft programming language that would generate random results if
you tried a certain boolean operation - debugging that was fun, because random. ("if not i then do ...")

I can still do things with my rotring pencil on paper, but when we started designing my new workshop, and then our
new house, I ended up learning sketchup. Google built it, and it was free. I now design my larger furniture pieces on it.
The biggest advantage is, I can take accurate measurements off the software without having to rely on a ruler and my
66 year old eyes. And now I have a 3d printer .... sketchup can export files that the slicer software can understand.
I made some dust extractor adapters for non-standard tool dust ports ... without CAD I could NOT do that. Plus, there
are a -ton of excellent tutorial videos out there! It can be tricky to use the intricate stuff, like odd curves in 3 dimensions,
but it hasn't done a crash and burn on me yet, like your friend experienced.
(and gods, those American "Christians"; most of them have never even heard of Spinoza and the Age of Enlightenment,
theologically they still live in the Dark Ages ....)

3rd Aug 2020, 08:04 PM
I have been a CAD designer for many decades and previous to that on a drawing board. As mentioned earlier like most things people look for what has been done by hand many decades ago. And so there are people who buy old drawing boards, old ink pens, and stencils and as a hobby do some old drawings by hand.

Their work is simply amazing what they are doing. If you have a look at what was expected even of apprentices It is great work.
Just do a google search to find out what some are paying for the old particularly French drawing boards. But the art of quality hand sketches is dieing for sure.