Drawing board

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Older drawing machine with scissors parallelogram guides
Engineers at drawing boards in the construction department of the VEB fire extinguishing equipment factory in Apolda, 1960

The drawing board (actually called a drawing board , sometimes also a drawing board or drawing machine ) is used by technical draftsmen , designers and architects to create technical drawings and construction drawings , i.e. to make floor plans , elevations , sections and perspective representations . A feature of the drawing board is that the correct angularity of the lines to each other is ensured by a mechanism.

The drawing board was largely superseded as an aid for creating technical drawings in the 1990s through the use of computers with appropriate software and often specially adapted input devices. C omputer A ided D esign (CAD) . It is only used in a few niche areas in which drawing is still carried out by hand. Often the last remaining copy is used in design offices as a pin board for plotted drawings or as a drawing tray. Often it is also used as a decoration in planning offices.


Drawing board, 1904
Commercially available mobile drawing board for artists, so-called belly board
Architectural draftsman at the drawing board, 1954

There are independent drawing boards that function as office furniture and transportable drawing board variants for the work table or for artistic sketching "en plein air" ( open-air painting ).

A drawing machine consists of the following components:

  • Drawing board (often in the DIN A0 format, but also down to DIN A4) on which the drawing sheet is attached,
  • Stand with height and tilt adjustment device.
  • Mechanics for guiding the drawing head ; A distinction is made between two systems: the “Storchenschnabel” or the scissors parallelogram guides and the carriage system for longitudinal and vertical adjustment of the drawing head (edge ​​carriage parallel guides).
  • Drawing head, on which two rulers are attached - a long horizontal one (50 cm for A0) and a shorter vertical one (30 cm for A0).

Under the drawing surface of modern drawing boards there was often a thin layer of metal, or the drawing surface itself had a metal surface so that the drawing film or drawing paper could be attached using magnets .

The drawing head is the most complex individual component. It is used to attach rulers at 90 degrees to each other and to set angles that deviate from the horizontal and vertical. The rulers can usually be clicked into place in 15-degree steps: the long ruler can be raised from the horizontal position (0 degrees) to 90 degrees or lowered to 90 degrees. In addition, the angle can be fixed in any angle position away from the notches with a clamping device. The free angular positioning can be set to a tenth of a degree with an angle vernier .

The height adjustment of the board, the carriage height adjustment of the drawing head on the board as well as the cork's beak have a counterbalance that allows the drawing head to be easily lifted and moved on the board.

An artistic variant of the drawing board is also known as a belly board (because of its shape adapted to the body) . The draftsman can use it to sketch anywhere in the landscape - even while walking; a shoulder strap serves as a hold in front of the upper body, and the drawing cardboard is attached by a clip attached to the top.


The drawing board is supplemented by various drawing devices and drawing tools :

  • Tracing paper ; this was necessary for blueprints , often provided with a drawing frame and a labeling field
  • Ink box with pen widths of 0.25 / 0.35 / 0.5 and 0.7 mm as a minimum (the even thinner pens 0.13 and 0.18 mm dry out extremely quickly)
  • Compasses with interchangeable tips and an angle-adjustable interchangeable leg for the mostly screw-in ink pens
  • Tear bar and attached rulers and protractors (or a "Geo-Triangle")
  • several font templates (2.5 / 3.5 / 5 and 7 mm font height, suitable for the line widths of one tenth)
  • Standards
  • Templates for details such as nuts and bolts, welding, machining, architectural or electrical symbols
  • Adhesive tape , tacks , push needles for securing the indicia carrier
  • a sharp knife for cutting character carriers
  • Scissors , scraper blades , fiberglass erasers
  • flexible magnetic strips or other magnets
  • There is usually a lamp above the drawing board; so no shadow falls on the drawing by the designer
  • then various mechanical pencils with different lead thicknesses and degrees of hardness , erasers

and the constructive knowledge to represent technical relationships according to the rules of descriptive geometry and many standards.


Engineer drawing on the drawing board, drawing head attached not to scissors parallelogram guides, but to the car

The drawing board technology can be much cheaper than 2D CAD technology. There were also studies that showed that in the design phase, those technical solutions created on paper were functionally better and more creative than those created on the computer. Reasons for this may be that you can concentrate on the essentials of a construction, have a better sense of size on a scale and have a better overview of the whole on an A0 sheet than on a relatively small section on a monitor.

An eminent advantage of the drawing machine in the age of otherwise motionless computer work is the physical movement when working on the "board" as well as the possibility to work simultaneously and effectively on a drawing, or to examine it and discuss it with others.

In contrast to 2D CAD technology, as is still often practiced today with AutoCAD , the other development process on the drawing board continuously incorporates changes without expensive printouts or paper plots before a final release and duplication takes place.

The greatest advantage of a drawing machine is the quick and easy manual creation of true-to-scale sketches in existing plans and functional principles or existing drafts of technical drawings. In addition to the possibility of checking and visualizing large and highly detailed drawings, plans and schemes at one's personal workplace, this is the most important reason why drawing machines can still be found in design offices as large flipchart stands .


Disadvantages of the paper-based way of working are undeniably the poorer accuracy and reproducibility, the lower efficiency and the inflexibility of being able to react quickly to complex changes. In addition, no automation or immediate digital drawing distributions are possible as with CAD systems.

A disadvantage of the drawing machine is that it takes up about two meters of space, including the mobility of a cork's beak, and a depth of usually well over a meter, in order to be able to bring the table horizontally.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: drawing board  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Drawing Boards  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files