To CAD or not to CAD - Router Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Default To CAD or not to CAD

Given a recent posting of mine seemed to devolve into that discussion, I thought a more focused thread on the point might be of interest.

I'd like to hear how you design a project. Do you follow some one else's plans?. Just wing-it in the shop? Draw up your own on paper or CAD? If you use CAD, how detailed do you go? For those that don't use CAD, I'd like to hear about how you design. Do you make shop drawings?

As should be obvious to even the most casual observer, I am a CAD proponent. But, I will often not bother with a plan for simple things. For most projects with more than a couple of parts, I draw up a 3D design in CAD and make a shop drawing. For parts with joinery or complex structure, I will detail out the joints and test the spacial relationships. Moving parts get some special attention to make sure there aren't restrictions. I also use the CAD process as a way to think through and visualize the build process - this helps me avoid stupid process errors. Another thing I do with CAD is make multiple versions to see how they look - the what-if game. If I'm making something for the house, I'll create a 3D view and show my wife to get her input. I often give her alternatives and let her choose which one. That helps to create buy-in on her part. I do the same if it's for someone else.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 03:49 PM
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I did not follow your other thread, so I don't know what it devolved into. It doesn't matter to me. It sounds like you and I are in the same camp, CAD is a prominent and essential part of my design/creative process. Since I have been a metal machinist for decades, it has come out of that. I create CAD drawings for nearly everything I do, particularly in metal, but now also in woodworking. As with you, it allows me to think through things, both in design aspects, but also in practical ways. Over the years, I have found that if I make parts to the drawings, things fit together and most often, they work as intended. And if they don't, it is usually pretty easy to figure out why and correct for it.

I build my projects with each part on a separate layer, with another separate layer for dimensions. I build it will all the parts "in assembly", as they fit together. This allows me to design them to fit and allows me to think through how they would be made. Another aspect is when I am making something to add to an existing tool or device or equally or more often when I want to modify or repair an existing item. I measure and draw the existing part(s) first and then start adding or changing things as needed, still using the separate layers method. I can print in assemblies/sub assemblies and then each item in turn, as they might be assembled in sequence. I've used this latter technique for explaining things to someone remotely. Usually, they can see and understand what is happening or what I mean to do. This is most often the case when I am making/modifying/fixing something for that someone else.

I have been using an old AutoCAD product, AutoSketch, which isn't supported anymore, but it still works fine. I have had versions of TurboCAD 2D/3D on my computer for years, but the learning curve has been more than I have been willing to endure. Last year, when I was making wooden gears, I learned enough 3D CAD in Fusion 360 to produce drawings that were sent to a CNC router guy. Unfortunately, I haven't touched it since, so I'd have to climb most of that hill again. It would be nice to be able to work in 3D, as most other folks seem to relate to it better than 2D drawings.

I really enjoy the process, in which CAD is an integral part. And when the project is done, I turn the pages over and use them as scratch pad paper at my computer station.

Rick
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, very similar though you sound a bit more disciplined than I am.

I use sketchup for woodwork which has it pluses and minuses. Since it's CAM portion is nonexistent and the CAM add-ons are, to put it very politely, somewhat wanting, I've been using Fusion 360 more and more for my CNC work. There's a learning curve but the biggest problem is that I have sketchup wired into my brain and it's hard to stop. It's just a completely different way of thinking. Need more time in the F360 saddle...

Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 04:18 PM
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It depends on the project, Phil & Rick. When I do gears I use F360 but if I am sketching something and just testing I may use CorelDraw first. If I get a design I like then I'll export an svg to bring into F360 to machine the piece. If someone gives me jpg of something they want then I'll probably do the same thing - CorelDraw to F360.

But when I designed/built my acoustic guitar side bender I sketched that freehand on a large piece of brown paper that some Curly Maple came wrapped in from my supplier. The side bender never made it to digital, it's all analog old style sketching.

So I bounce back and forth between CorelDraw and F360 but 90%+ of the things I cut are my designs and I rarely use someone else's work. And I also use both these pieces of software to 'test' out different relationships for some of the engineered pieces, fixtures, jigs, templates, etc. because it just makes sense to do so rather than go out in the shop and start playing around until I get it 'right'.

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PS - some of Rick's engineered pieces are pretty cool, btw
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 05:00 PM
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How I design is in your other thread. With a few methods still to come.

I do not use CAD, nor do I use CNC machines. And, I do not have any desire to use either - I wouldn't use either even if you gave me one. To use either would not relax me, only increase my stress level, and I do not need that. Doing my projects my way, relaxes me, keeps my stress level down, and gets the job done. Learned drafting in the 10th grade shop class, 1955. Worked for me then, works for me now.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBa View Post
...snip... but the biggest problem is that I have sketchup wired into my brain and it's hard to stop. ...snip...
Yup, wired into the brain, Sketchup is.

I think that is my problem with learning TurboCAD. It would not have mattered with the gear project as TC could not generate the code needed for the CNC router.

Rick

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2020, 11:43 PM
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I have a Shapeoko XXL and use the Carbide3d Create. If I want to copy a jpg I use Inkscape to convert it to SVG and then import into Carbide Create. I have made a lot of jewelry box tops with the CNC and quite a few other projects that were embelished with the CNC and not fully built on the CNC. I have been doing woodworking for 40+ years and many times draw my design on a board with pen and paper. I have a start up license for Fusion 360 but after watching a ton of videos and buying a book I still cannot get F360 to work for me. On the Carbide 3d forum people try to do every thing on the CNC. There are many jobs that are just easier the old fashioned way. If you have a small piece of rough grain on something a hand plane is very easy to quickly touch up the problem ares. You could get out random orbit sanders or files or a lot of other things but the hand tools still have a place in my shop. Dont get me wrong I have a full shop full of power tools and use them all. I just pick and choose which ones to use for my ease of use.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Guy, while this is about whether or not you use CAD, I have a similar perspective on CNC. It's just another tool. If I can do it better or faster on CNC, I will. But there is a lot of setup time to that and a simple hand tool often does it faster. One of my most used tools in the shop is a simple Japanese pull saw in a miter box.

F360 does have a fairly steep learning curve and, imho, is a UX designer's nightmare. Though, I've not yet found a CAD program that isn't. Still, once you get it figured out and use it often enough it does become easier. Don't know if I will ever be able to say "intuitive".

Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 07:45 AM
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Whew! At my age, a simple box is challenge enough. Like a friend of mine says, "My one cell Sketchup seems to do the job."
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickKr View Post
Yup, wired into the brain, Sketchup is.

I think that is my problem with learning TurboCAD. It would not have mattered with the gear project as TC could not generate the code needed for the CNC router.

Rick
My issue is I'm way more familiar with AutoCAD that seems to interfere with learning other programs. I have 2 books and numerous videos on Sketchup but ca't seem to focus on them.

Usually I just cater a plan to my needs and that may change the dimensions like the cabinet under the table saw wing. The clearance under there and adding rollers made a difference. I also made the cabinet deeper. But for me, drawing out the design makes me more fully aware of the project and the steps I'll need to take. I need to learn Sketchup as sooner then later AutoCAD will just not run on Windows 10 any longer.
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