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When I design something, I do it with graph paper & a pen. A couple of drafts later ... I head to the shop.

I'm doing more corporate work now, and that's not exactly, uh, professional.

My son, the engineer, turned his nose up on my state of the art. He seemed to think there should be CAD software in my future.

So ... is Sketch up still the recommended solution for a somewhat computer literate woodworker, or is there an alternative I should be considering? Here are 2 current projects:

1. A tequila gift box that will be presented to the cast & crew of a TV show. It holds a bottle of Patron + 4 shot glasses. 8" x 10" x 6", approximately. This is the project that the Engineer thought I needed a better plan than a sketch on graph paper (and he was right). I'm making 100 copies.

2. A retail display for a new hair product. I'm making a 3-step display with holes CNC'd in the steps to hold the product. A display back slips into a slot, and that back will hold the printed point of purchase display. I'll be making 2,500 copies.

Your wisdom, as always, is much appreciated.

Some eye candy of recent projects ... that got designed in Aspire. Well ... at least part of them did.
 

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Rick
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Very nice Henry . As Tom mentions ,the contrast is a really nice touch
 
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I'm a CAD kind of guy. Always draw everything out before hand in Sketchup. Personally, I still draw even small stuff in SU because that's my process and my handwriting, frankly, sucks so bad I have a hard time reading my own scribbles.

That said, the latest SU is web based and I've heard a lot of complaints about how bad it is. I have have an older version that predates their move to web based. You should try it, though. It may work ok for you.

If you have aspire, I'd think that is enough CAD for your needs.
 

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Theo
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I do it differently. No graph paper and pen for me. With me it is lined spiral notebooks, and a mechanical pencil, AND a very good eraser. Rough sketch until I get what I want, fine tune it a bit. THEN I go to graph paper (I consider it too valuable to use it for drafts) to finalize it, usually with a mechanical pencil, but often go over that with a pen. And it works very well for me. In fact, depending on what I want to make, can often work directly from the rough draft.

I think I had CAD once. But a shot of penicillin took care of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you have aspire, I'd think that is enough CAD for your needs.
Aspire is great for my CNC, but it doesn't make multiple small box parts, convert to 3D, blow them up, rotate the assembly, etc. At least not with my skill level.

I do use CBDesigner 2.0 that was recently commented on in this forum, and I did buy a program to optimize sheet stock usage when I was doing a few nice orders of plywood boxes.

The current tequila gift box is for a client that's literally pushing me to shave every 1/8" possible out of the design, and a CAD program would have helped. Having to answer "how big a hole do you need for a tapered shot glass so that the rim is the same height as the oddly shaped Patron bottle" is probably always going to be answered with trial and error ... but then converting that to a nice drawing would be much more impressive to the client than my scratchings.
 

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I'm not an Aspire user but it seems to have pretty good modeling tools. I agree, it's not an engineering style CAD system. Maybe F360 isn't overkill for you, it is definitely very capable.

Sketchup is good at building 3D woodworking models and the paid for version has DXF export that Aspire can import. It basically sucks at CAM and I would avoid the web based versions. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. Don't try to work on really small features with it as it pretty much falls apart and it lacks the "sketch plane" feature that other have (like F360). Sketch planes make it easy to draw a 2D object for manipulation. In SU, it's harder to do that because it winds up snapping to random things and you wind up drawing in 3 dimensions.

edit: one thing SU has going for it is the 3D warehouse. It has a huge number of objects you can just drop into your drawings. Not sure that helps other than with client presentations.
 

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I am a sketcher and occasionally use graph paper to get an idea of size and proportion. For some drawings, I use the drawing set in Micro$oft Word. It keeps lines square and plumb. I've posted many of these over the years. I like the discipline of working with precise, straight lines.

But I actually work from the mental image I form of the easier projects, with a little help from my sketch on basic dimensions. I've pretty much settled on story sticks for inside measures, cutting slightly proud and trimming down for an exact fit. Luckily I grew up in the radio age, so my ability to visualize is pretty dang good. Many kids today just can't visualize or form persistent mental images.
 

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I do it differently. No graph paper and pen for me. With me it is lined spiral notebooks, and a mechanical pencil, AND a very good eraser. Rough sketch until I get what I want, fine tune it a bit. THEN I go to graph paper (I consider it too valuable to use it for drafts) to finalize it, usually with a mechanical pencil, but often go over that with a pen. And it works very well for me. In fact, depending on what I want to make, can often work directly from the rough draft.

I think I had CAD once. But a shot of penicillin took care of it.

I'm with you on this one, Theo...
 
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My son is an ME and spent part of his co-op time at a CAD-CAM system. He later told what he didn't want to do as an engineer. I tried Sketchup. Gave up. Son's boy has my father's drafting pencils, triangles, etc. Wonder how many things were invented or improved on by drawing on a napkin or piece of cardboard?
 

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A
I do use CBDesigner 2.0 that was recently commented on in this forum, and I did buy a program to optimize sheet stock usage when I was doing a few nice orders of plywood boxes.

The current tequila gift box is for a client that's literally pushing me to shave every 1/8" possible out of the design, and a CAD program would have helped. Having to answer "how big a hole do you need for a tapered shot glass so that the rim is the same height as the oddly shaped Patron bottle" is probably always going to be answered with trial and error ... but then converting that to a nice drawing would be much more impressive to the client than my scratchings.
Love the Cracker Thing - a scraps solution if I ever saw one!

I need to learn CAD and graph paper is my computer program for the moment...

Would love to see your Tequila creation when you have ready - those jobs are worth developing for clientele who can afford them for the maximum presentation effect.
 

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Mike
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In college, my major was Drafting Design Technology and I used to draw up my projects with drafting board, triangles, and pencil. Through the years my jobs changed from drafting board to computer-aided drawing (CAD).

Now I usually start a project with a ruff scetch where I decide overall measurements as well as measurements for design details.
For CNC projects I use this scetch to do my drawing in Aspire or VCarve Pro.
For other projects that don't require CNC work, I take the scetch to the shop and build the project.
If the project requires some CNC work, like making templates, I will draw the templates in Aspire and cut them first so I can make sure they will work as designed.
If the project requires some CNC work, like carving on some panels of the project to add embellishments, then I will take the design to the shop and start building. After the first day in the shop, I'll take the drawing back to the house and start a file in Aspire for the embellishments I want to make. Then it will be work on the project during the day, work on the CNC files at night until the files are ready and the panels have been made, sanded and prepped for carving.
 

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I'm a graph paper guy (quad pads). I hadn't realized it but they're available as either 4 or 5 squares to the inch. I've ever only used the 4 to the inch pads...each square being a 1/4" (obviously).
I pick up a pack of 5 pads in Aug. / Sept when school supplies are on sale; they're cheap like borscht then.
 

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Theo
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I am a sketcher and occasionally use graph paper to get an idea of size and proportion. For some drawings, I use the drawing set in Micro$oft Word. It keeps lines square and plumb. I've posted many of these over the years. I like the discipline of working with precise, straight lines.

But I actually work from the mental image I form of the easier projects, with a little help from my sketch on basic dimensions. I've pretty much settled on story sticks for inside measures, cutting slightly proud and trimming down for an exact fit. Luckily I grew up in the radio age, so my ability to visualize is pretty dang good. Many kids today just can't visualize or form persistent mental images.
I've sketched since I was a kid. Now I finalize my drafts onto graph paper, which give the straight lines. And/or use a ruler for straight line. Rough drafts, straight lines are just drawn out, accuracy is not required, just the concept.

I've been able to visualize images since I was a kid. I think everyone has that ability, but it's a if you don't use it you lose it thing. I know I've told people I can do that, and get back, "I can't do that", and they won't even try to do it, because "they can't do it". Thinking about that I think growing up with just radio, and books, that definitely increased my ability. Books especially, no sound effects, no creaking doors, no announcer saying what is about to happen, just imagination. Now kids are into video games and movies, so it's no wonder they can't visualize things. I put it all to not using their own imagination, but just accepting what the creator of the game or movies.

I can not only visualize things, I can visualize them in color - used to think everyone could, but apparently not. Also, can visualize them in 3D, and rotate or move whatever I'm visualizing - this I don't know if other people can do or not, but I think that meditating for about the last 50 years might have had something to do with it.

On top of it all, it's fun to grab a pencil, cheet of paper, and just start sketching. Always used to try to have one of those paper desk pads (or whatever they're called). Very handy, in the lower right corner I would write down all phone numbers I got over the phone I needed to use. Then the rest of the pad was covered with sketches. Next morning, tear off the top sheet, write down the phone numbers I still needed, and start a new day. Now adays I have half a dozen or so spiral lined notebooks and a batch of steno pads, and normally have one or the other with me almost anywhere I go.
 

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Theo
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Almost forgot. This is possibly my favorite alcohol gift box ever.
 

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