Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drawing to Scale

Studying to be a math teacher in college meant solving a mountain of problems dealing with scale drawings. Whether it was testing right triangles in the context of a ladder leaning against a building or estimating the distance between two fictitious towns on a equally fictitious map, I can assure you that will never be a shortage of scale drawing problems in a high school math curriculum. However. last week took my experience with scale drawings of fake cities on a fake map into the real world.

We were recently commissioned to build a live edge bar for inside a home. The top sketch was what Jeff had prepared based off what he saw when he visited the house. I watched intently as Jeff took the dimensions of the rough sketch and translated them into a clean, crisp drawing using the 1" scale. For those that are like I was until last week, the 1" scale means that for every inch of the drawing, there will be a foot of life-size length. Then, it was my job to take the new drawing (on legal-sized paper) and scale it down to the 3/4 inch scale to fit on 8.5" x 11" paper.

What a wondrous tool the architectural scale is. The ruler has 6 sides and 11 scales on it. With the trifecta of the architectural scale, a triangle, and the drawing board all working in my favor, I managed to resize the drawing to it's new 3/4" scale. By measuring each dimension on Jeff's drawing using the 1" scale, I was able to flip the ruler to convert relatively easily to 3/4". The most fun was realizing that if you draw a line at 90 degrees from the corner of one drawing, you can easily reflect those dimensions over the line to draw a different view. It sounds like gibberish in words but, it's awesome. Do you have any idea how gratifying it is to measure each part of a drawing you finished and confirm that those measures converts perfectly to the length it should/will be in feet when it's life-size? No? Well, trust me when I say it's one of those moments when you breathe a sigh of relief knowing you don't have to erase and start over.

The next step was to take a sheet of tracing paper and copy only the essential lines using a thin-tip pen. Jeff told me to leave out anything too specific because the smaller details may change as the piece is built but, the basic dimensions of the case and bar top will remain the same. When I had traced those essential lines, Jeff explained the reasoning for the trace and it was simple; we can now have endless [photo]copies to pencil in and toy with ideas for the more intricate design. Brilliant... of course.

Since the completion of those scale drawings, we have drawn out the dimensions of the bar using the normal, 12" scale on a huge sheet of paper. Just to give you an idea, one side of the bar will be ~74" and the other will be ~70" so this scale drawing is currently taking over two work benches in the shop. Why draw such a big scale drawing? So that you can put the actual pieces of wood you want to use on it to see exactly what it'll look like. Brilliant... again.

Don't fret, details and photos on the life-size scale drawing to come! Until then, have a warm and happy Tuesday!

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