AWI CAD Standard?

If there isn't one already, why not? December 26, 2004

Here's a question for cabinet and architectural woodworking draftsmen that use AutoCAD 2000. Does AWI promote a CAD standard for the industry? I think it must be messy if everyone makes up their own layers, linetypes, colors, block templates, and such.

Maybe someone has a good template they would like to make available for download. I would like to draw cabinets in a professional CAD standard environment, rather than my own personal favorite look that no one else likes.

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor D:
It would be fine for someone or some organization to do that, but you overestimate their abilities. Only a handful of people even really know how to put AutoCAD to its most efficient use and they build different things with different equipment. You just cannot have a standard setup that incorporates everyone's machines and software. AutoCAD is only one small part of the bigger picture.

From contributor K:
Since many of us deal with architects through our cabinet drawings, I would love to use the architect's standards. ;) Oh, right, they don't exist. At least few, if any, architects follow them if they do exist.

From contributor J:
Good question. But realize that AutoCAD gives the individual the opportunity to fine tune their craft with the flexibility offered within the software that is not relevant to the people who we submit our drawings to, unless we are submitting drawings electronically. And even if we do, they donít care about the layers or blocks we use. They just want to see what we have done. I have never gotten a red line back that sited my layers or blocks or anything else. They were just concerned about the project. I use my own layers and have developed a CTB file that I plot with that works for me, so my drawings look good for the shop. Thatís where it counts. Architects draw in many layers because they have to consider more options, like furniture, machines, carpet, etc.

The bottom line is: learn how to refine your art into something that works for you. These forums will help you. Just submit one situation at a time and be very detailed about it.

From contributor T:
Most good CAD systems out now allow you to use common layer names instead of the old 8 character limit. It's the good CAD systems that allow modifiers to be used with layers. This way you can custom design, import/export what works best for you.

From contributor A:
Coming from an AWI shop, I can say no - there isn't an industry CAD standard for woodwork other than the AIA CAD standard, which to my understanding most architects argue about. It is true that few architects follow their own set of rules.

You could use the AIA standard as a guide to getting started, but you have to do what's most efficient for you. You may encounter a job where an architect will require that drawings be sent electronically and meet their standards. Fine - they just need to supply you with their template files.

The best advice I can give is this: don't use arcane, meaningless names for layers, blocks, or whatever... especially to someone outside your niche of expertise. For example, don't name a block acc3832. Just call it a drawer slide.

My biggest beef with the arch drawings we get is that they are full of useless stuff. If you send CAD files, clean 'em up first. That makes you look more professional.

There is an IU national CAD standard. I've seen one similar published by the Army Corps of Engineers. Maybe Google for a list of the AIA standards (they want to sell it)
Pretty heady stuff but you could customize and water it down for cabinets and millwork.

From contributor S:
Quite a few shops I have been at have set up their own standards for their company. Whoever they bring on board, they sit down and show the system. Then there are the ones who draw everything on one layer.

Having worked for several wood companies, architects and mechanical engineers, I can say that there are umpteen jillion ways to set up your own system.

If you are using Acad 2000 and up, you can tab your title sheets and have all your drawings in one. Of course, you should xref your blocks in so the file size doesn't get way, way too big.

From contributor W:
There is a CAD standard for the construction community written by the AIA and CSI. The binder is 4 inches thick and covers all disciplines including woodworking. Itís a pain in the butt but I think it pays off by standardizing the CAD environment without us having to write a CAD standard. However, we do 50 million dollars of woodwork sales a year and have not yet had a customer demand that we conform any CAD standards. I think mandatory CAD standards will be coming in the next ten years, but who can predict? And ten years is a long way off.

From the original questioner:
Thanks to all that responded. I did not find much on setting up layers for cabinets and woodworking. I will just make up my own. I should end up with over three dozen layers.
I wanted to have separate layers for things like: cabinet box, drawers, doors, faceframes, hardware, countertop, floorplan, electrical, furnishings, etc.

I would like to know from the draftsmen if it would be a good idea to have a separate dimension layer that is for many of the above layers, but put all the dimension layers in the same color. I may end up with a dozen or more dimension layers. This will allow turning off some of the dimensions to get them out of the way, or sorting layers by color and selecting all of the dimension layers to turn them off. Is this just too many layers to be practical?

From contributor T:
It is not layers, it is modifiers.

What you are looking for is a way to control your entities. You think by having everything on its own layer, you can modify it by its layer. This is not the case. A good CAD system should allow selection by number, color, line type, layer, group, fill, style, type, text, dimension, symbols and other modifiers.

If you are an Acad user, I believe that they will have a command called "sheets" for 2005 that will handle this situation. You will have your common page and in that same file you will add another sheet or layer on top of that sheet and so on to turn on and off to create the options you want to view without leaving the drawing.

Creating layers for everything is usually a big waste of time if you are doing custom work.

I and others have had some limited success with what is called color mapping. This is where a certain color, say red, is reserved for just dimensions and another color just for other entities. This way I can control the dimensions and entities from its color value and this works to some extent. I don't think Acad can do this, but I'm not sure. It does help when printing. I can print black and white and have just the dimensions in red or when I use bitmaps in color. They print in their native color regardless of the black and white setting.

There are tricks that a draftsman will use to some degree of success, but if I read correctly what you are trying to do with layers, then you are wasting your time.

As far as standardsÖ I'll ask the owner how he or she wants it, and that becomes the standard.

If I am going to do a CAD drawing as fast as I can and I will never see it again after I finish it, then nearly everything will be on one layer, because to make any other plan is just guess work that may or may not have any use. All you will have is a list of layers a mile long. Look into the use of sheets. This is your best bet. I have heard of third party add-ons that support this arrangement and it will do what you want, but Acad is a closed system and if the add-on does not come from Autodesk, then it usually will not be compatible. This will be the ultimate downfall for Acad. Not being compatible. Third party add-ons will not work with them.