We are a small workshop designing and making handmade kitchens. We currently do all our drawings by hand but have AutoCAD 2002 which I am about to try and learn. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has been through the same thing - moving from hand drawings to AutoCAD and any tips you have in learning how to use it. What have been the benefits and how much time has it saved once you got to grips with it? This may help motivate me to the hard task ahead!
From contributor C:
I learned AutoCAD and try not to use if I donít have to. There is a big learning curve ahead. If you need to send or receive drawings from an architect then AutoCAD is the way to go if not then Cabinet vision solid is what I use now for high end Kitchens its so much easier to learn and work on everyday. 20/20 is easy as well, but I didnít care for it. I havenít worked on it in a number of years but I donít think itís ever going to get even close to Cabinet Vision
The most time saving aspect of CAD I found is in doing revisions to drawings. I don't wear out any erasers changing drawings as the customer changes their minds. Also, as you start using CAD you will find it handy to build a library of certain details and conditions that can be used over and over in different projects. In the paper and pencil days we used sepia copies to cut and paste similar details through out a set of drawings (which was an art form in itself).
The learning curve is steep, but if you or the person in you company that does the drafting has a good understanding of basic drafting skills then you can pick it up pretty quickly. Most people, myself included, probably only use about 15% of AutoCAD's power. But the opportunity to use that power is always there should you decide that is what you need.
Please understand that if you have never worked with cad software before and youíre going to try to teach yourself AutoCAD with a book itís no joke. AutoCAD is a bear of a program and it would take unique person to just pick it up that way
Always remember two things.
1.) Its never to late to learn something.
2.) There is only one dumb question, the one you don't ask.
Learn the zoom commands well early on. Make sure you have a mouse with a scroll wheel so you can have fun with zooming and panning the picture around while you are still in another command.
Above all else don't be frustrated by not being able to do exactly what you want. Sometimes, even with AutoCAD you just have to make do. My workmate is 10 years older than me and learned AutoCAD about the time I graduated Technical school and he spent a long time blending hand and AutoCAD drawing. It's okay to just add a hand note and fax it, or show it to someone.
I'm currently enrolled at the community college taking 2-D Auto Cad 2004 harnessing 2005. I only have two more classes and I'll be done. Next I will be taking 3-D Auto Cad and am looking forward to it. The class is costing me $340.00 per class/semester for each and it meets once a week from 4-10 pm.
If you take the class, make sure you donít miss any classes or you will fall behind. At this point, I don't know if I even want to do a drafting job for a living, but as mentioned, it will look good on a resume.
I think that some of the new features throughout the years are harder for us long time users to learn, than newer users, because of old habits. There have been major improvements since 2002. Overall, once you get good at drawing with CAD, you will not go ďback to the drawing boardĒ.
The benefits are limited only to your imagination. If there is someone you know that already knows CAD, it is worth it to get him or her to help you in whatever way you can. It is amazing how much you can learn in a casual environment where you can ask what you may think are stupid or elementary question. That question may be the one thing that is holding you up from moving on.
I was in Barnes and Noble and thought I would look for some kind of self help book on it and found AutoCAD for dummies. Being skeptical I looked through it for quite some time in the store and eventually bought it. I have to say that I just recently completed the drawing of a cherry built-in desk unit in very elaborate detail and it is more importantly scaled and dimensioned properly.
That is one thing the book goes into great detail about is the scaling of things because let's face it, the prettiest picture in the world is nothing if it is not accurately dimensioned and especially if you want to do any CNC machining with the results. The book has somehow explained the basics of setting the system up to draw properly to scale whatever I need to draw as well as teach me the basic drawing tools and their functions. I learned some just piddling around with it but there is so much more you need to understand to produce a proper drawing. I still have much to learn and there are still many features I do not use yet but I am very happy to be able to draw anything in it. I recommend you try to find a book like that and read it while experimenting with the program at the same time.
Comment from contributor A:
I just started using CAD a little over 3 months ago. I have taught myself a lot, and I've found two major tools to help me. The first was a CAD tutorial book from Barnes and Noble, which taught me the basic and most often used commands, and how to take advantage of OSNAPS and Polar Tracking.
The second was cadtutor.net, which provides tutorials and training. Whether this is the best solution for your business is debatable, but CAD is a worthwhile tool to know if you have the opportunity.