Some History of Drafting

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After World War II ended there was a new spirit of travel and adventure in the lives of many Americans. Many of the men and women who had participated in the war effort had traveled extensively in the United States and other parts of the world. Those from rural states and towns were introduced to many attractive and exciting places they had never seen before. The southwestern portion of the United States was lightly populated at that time. Many former service men and women began moving west and south. The states of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California began to explode with increased population. In 1948 my family was living in southern California. My parents made a family decision to relocate to Arizona. It was June 1948 when Arizona became my home. I was going into the 2nd grade in the fall. The school I attended offered beginning shop classes in the 5th and 6th grades. One of those shop opportunities was a class in Mechanical Drawing. It was in those classes that I learned that I had an aptitude for visualizing three dimensional objects commonly referred to orthographic projections. This was the beginning of learning to describe objects on paper. This was very exciting to me. The process of education was now usable.

This, of course, began the learning process for mechanical and architectural drawing. Back then in the early 1950s the basics in the mechanical drafting field were similar to a beginner today. The simple drawing instruments consisted of a basswood drafting board, t-square, mechanical pencils, drafting tape, triangles and drafting compasses. As school progressed there were more drafting tools available. Parallel bars were now available for advanced students. The top students in high school and college would even be allowed to use specialized drafting track-machines, the most popular was a brand named, Vemco. These products were produced by many diversified manufacturers. The old major suppliers were from Germany, with names like Dieterich-Post, Keuffel-Esser (K & E), Staedtler-Mars. These companies produced a number of specialized tools including slide rules, Leroy lettering sets, technical pens, beam compasses, French curves, flexible curves, and planimeters.

As education advanced there was the introduction to the problem on plan storage. Reproductions (Blueprinting) was the inexpensive way to make multiple copies of original drawings for use by others. All of the original drafted plans needed to be stored, and copies of the originals needed to be made. This was and is accomplished with filing systems. Two kinds of storage systems were developed which are still very much in use today. Flat storage on original drawings were stored in flat file or plan file cabinets manufactured from wood or steel. These were typically built in five-drawer cabinets. This was the normal storage approach for archival use. The second plan-storage system was hanging plan racks. These were designed for either wall-mounted or free-standing racks. The major equipment suppliers of these systems were SAFCO, Hamilton, Mayline, PlanHold, and SMI, Ltd.

Today we are happy to be a major supplier for Alvin & Company, a supplier of most small to large drafting products. We also represent Mayline and SAFCO Products for your filing and storage needs in the drafting and filing industry.

Stay tuned on the blog site for more interesting information regarding the development on the architectural/engineering drafting industry.

Gary Keating

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