For those of you that have been buying woodworking plans for years probably own or at least have seen an old hand sketched plan. A lot of you probably have made your own hand sketch plans. For you new woodworkers, yes plans were actually drawn by hand with a pencil and paper, just ask a veterin woodworker.
With the invention of computer aided drafting or CAD as it's called, plans are now drawn primarily on computer. This is a good thing, plans of today are much more accurate then the plans of old. With the use of CAD you can check things for proper fit, size, scale etc … The point is you can not beat something drawn from CAD.
You have all seen today's plans in magazines or store bought plans, or even plans bought over the internet, they have neatly shaded 3D isometric views, lots of detailed images and usually at least one or two expanded views. Yesterday's plans do not hold a candle to the plans of today. The clarity, the detail, nothing beats it. How could it get any better then this?
Well I'm here to tell you it can. Those plans you see today in your magazines, in the store or on the internet where not just drawn in any old CAD program, they were drawn in some sort of 3D CAD program. So what you ask? Well when you draw, or model as it's called in the 3D CAD world, something in 3D there is no limit to what you can do with that data. You can take that entertainment center or end table plan and zoom into any where to get a better look; you can rotate the model to any angle to look inside or underneath, or to just see things at a different perspective. You can section the model so you can see how things mate together. With the model you are able to measure between any two surfaces; explode the model apart and see just how things will actually go together or to just see all of the individual components. You can hide components if they get in the way of your view, you can even make parts transparent so you can see through them and look inside the model.
As you can see there are so many advantages to having access to the 3D model when you buy a woodworking plan. And that just scratches the surface of what you can do with a 3D CAD Model. Just imagine being able to do all of those things with your plan, how much easier it would be to complete your project. Image being able to see exactly where the hardware goes and how it mounts, or how you are going to glue to pieces of wood together all before you step into the shop.
Source by Christopher Koenig