Drafting Building Designs – The Career of Adding Detail to an Architect’s Designs

The drafter prepares detailed plans and specification drawings from the ideas, notes, or rough sketches of scientists, engineers, architects, and designers. Sometimes drawings are developed after a visit to a project in the field or as the result of a discussion with one or more people involved in the job. The drawings, which usually provide a number of different views of the object, must be exact and accurate. They vary greatly in size depending on the type of drawing.
Some assembly drawings, often called layouts, are 25 to 30 feet long, while others are very small. Drawings must contain enough detail, whatever their size, so that the part, object, or building can be constructed from them. Such drawings usually include information concerning the quality of materials to be used, their cost, and the processes to be followed in carrying out the job. In developing drawings made to scale of the object to be built, drafters use a variety of instruments, such as protractors, compasses, triangles, squares, drawing pens, and pencils. More and more, they also use computers.
Drafters often are classified according to the type of work they do or their level of responsibility. Senior drafters use the preliminary information and ideas provided by engineers and architects to make work to other drafters and supervise their activities. Detailers make complete drawings, giving dimensions, material, and any other necessary information of each part shown on the layout.
Checkers carefully examine drawings to check for errors in computing or in recording dimensions and specifications. Tracers, who are usually assistant drafters, make corrections and prepare drawings for reproduction by tracing them on transparent cloth, paper, or plastic film.
Drafters also may specialize in a particular field of work, such as mechanical, electrical, electronic, aeronautical, structural, or architectural drafting. Although the nature of the work of drafters is not too different from one specialization to another, there is a considerable variation in the type of object with which they deal.
Commercial drafters do all-around drafting, such as plans for building sites, layouts of offices and factories, and drawings of charts, forms, and records. Computer-assisted drafters within this specialty use computers to make drawings and layouts for such fields as aeronautics, architecture, or electronics.
Civil drafters make construction drawings for roads and highways, river and harbor improvements, flood control, drainage, and other civil engineering projects. Structural drafters draw plans for bridge trusses, plate girders, roof trusses, trestle bridges, and other structures that use structural reinforcing steel, concrete, masonry, and other structural materials.