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10 Most Common CAD Drafter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Updated: Mar 21

In the world of CAD, the devil is in the details, and there are many pitfalls that you can stumble into, whether you're a novice or a seasoned pro. In this guide, we delve into the ten most common mistakes CAD drafters make, along with strategies and techniques to avoid them.

How many of these have you, or your colleagues, been guilty of?

10 Most Common CAD Mistakes Image WorQuick

1-Not Snapping to Endpoints

Worquick: Not snapping to endpoints illustration
Line not connected to endpoint on 2D CAD software

This is a most-hated CAD drafter faux pas! CAD programs come with a built-in snap system, so why doesn’t everyone use it? On the surface, the drawing might look great, but once you zoom in, you’ll see that things are not as you’ve expected.

  • Typical offender: New CAD drafters or untrained drafters.

  • Best way to avoid: Find the snap and tolerance settings on your preferred CAD program and turn them on!

  • Why does it cause a problem: Machined parts can have tolerance issues, hatches or fills can fail, and it can cause errors in your drawing.

  • Other things to consider: Converting different file types, for example, PDF to DWG, can also cause this issue. Be sure to check for accuracy when importing and exporting file types.

2-Not Investing Time Learn New Things

Too busy to learn? We’ve all been there before: deadline looming, work piling up, and you’re just too darn busy to set aside the time to learn something new!

Embracing continuous learning not only enhances employability in a rapidly evolving job market but also alleviates the burden of repetitive tasks, allowing for more fulfilling and efficient professional endeavors.

Contrary to previous beliefs, the adult brain remains highly adaptable, and capable of learning and acquiring new skills. With a plethora of free resources available online, such as YouTube tutorials, blogs, and podcasts, individuals can tailor their learning experience to suit their preferences and schedules.

  • Typical offender: Experienced CAD drafters.

  • Best way to avoid: Set aside just 30 minutes a week to learn. It can even be 10 minutes, 3 days a week.

  • Why does it cause a problem: In the long run, you’ll spend more time repeating repetitive tasks and doing things “the slow way”. You may also miss out on job opportunities later.

  • Other things to consider: Learning can be intimidating, especially if you didn’t enjoy school, but you are free to learn at your own pace in a time and method that suits you best.

3-Not Automating Tasks

Worquick: Create Scripts for Brics CAD software to Speed Workflow Illustration
Create Scripts to Speed Workflow Illustration

CAD drafting is fun most of the time, but sometimes, it’s repetitive and monotonous. For boring tasks (like the above script), most CAD systems allow you to “record” a given number of steps, such as adding something to the drawing, cleaning away unused data, saving a copy, and closing. Although it takes a little longer to set up initially, in the long run, it can save you a lot of time.

There are also a number of languages you can learn to automate CAD, AUTOLISP being a popular one. AUTOLISP is surprisingly easy to learn, and there is a huge amount of free code available online. Other popular options include Visual Basic, C#, and C++.

  • Typical offender: Experienced CAD drafters

  • Best way to avoid: Have you done something boring over and over again more than 5 times? Then automate it.

  • Why does it cause a problem: You are spending valuable time on boring and repetitive tasks, time that could be better spent elsewhere.

  • Other things to consider: Although “coding” can seem like a scary word, there are lots of tools that automatically create code for you, and with the invention of GPT bots, the possibilities for non-programmers are endless.

4-“Dirty” or “Heavy” Drawings

It’s common to see drawings that look simple but load slowly. Common issues include: too many layer filters, unused block definitions, excessively complex lines with far too many vertices, stray points, heavy meshes, and more. Regardless of the problem, the result is the same: slow drawings that freeze when you try to change the view, or even crash the software.

  • Typical offender: All drafters

  • Best way to avoid: Clean your drawings. Many CAD software programs have tools that allow you to clean unused data and check for extra “bulk” in a drawing. Some online tools even do this for you.

  • Why does it cause a problem: The drawings are slow, freeze, and crash the system.

  • Other things to consider: This problem is often caused by converting between file types, so pay attention to this.

5-Drawing Far From The Origin Point

Worquick Illustration of drawing created far from origin
Illustration of drawing created far from origin

Drawings that start far from the WCS (World Coordinate System) origin point might not seem like a big issue, but they can have tolerance issues. They can also suffer from distortion and unpredictable behaviour. That’s because, the further from the drawing origin, the harder the computer has to work to calculate distances. This can make drawings slow and inaccurate, which is not what you want as a CAD drafter!

  • Typical offender: Civil CAD users, who rely on GEO data to plot drawings.

  • Best way to avoid: When possible, start drawing from the 0,0,0 origin point and endeavor to keep your drawing close to this point.

  • Why does it cause a problem: It can cause inaccuracy, distortion, poor snapping and slow down your drawing.

  • Other things to consider: It can be easy to accidentally move the origin point from the drawing origin point (WCS) to a custom location (User Coordinate System). Be careful to check which one you are using.

6-Drawing At The Wrong Angle

WorQuick Illustration of drawing created at wrong angle
Illustration of drawing created at wrong angle

This one really grinds the teeth of a trained technical illustrator! They take one look at a drawing and see that it was drawn at 0, 135, and 269 degrees. Oh, the horror! You might think you’re getting away with it, but the trained eye always sees.

  • Typical offender: New CAD drafters and graphic designers.

  • Best way to avoid: Find the orthographic settings on your preferred CAD program and turn them on.

  • Why does it cause a problem: Not only does it look unprofessional, but it might just stop you from being hired.

  • Other things to consider: Snapping can easily throw these things off. It’s helpful to train your eye to spot errors and develop your own system to check that they are right. A trick is to draw a line at the correct angle, at the top of the offending line and see if it lines up.

7-Sticking To The Same Old Software Package

Some of the CAD systems on the market today have been around since the 1980s, and have barely changed! Technology has progressed so much in the last couple of decades, but people are still relying on CAD drafting software that was first built last century.

You wouldn’t buy a 1980s mobile phone, personal computer, or drawing tablet, so why continue to use 1980s software?

  • Typical offender: Experienced CAD drafters.

  • Best way to avoid: Don’t be scared to embrace the new.

  • Why does it cause a problem: Modern CAD software packages have more user-friendly interfaces, modern and more stable code, and offer tools to speed up your work.

  • Other things to consider: Don’t be scared if the software looks or behaves slightly differently from your previous package. Keep an open mind when testing it, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly you adapt.

8-Putting Objects On The Wrong Layer

Most companies have strict guidance about layers used for fills, hatches, leader lines, balloons, etc, but it’s common to see drawings with incorrect layers. This has to be fixed by someone, often the less-than-delighted senior CAD drafter in the team.

  • Typical offender: New team members.

  • Best way to avoid: If possible, colour the layers while creating the drawing, and it’ll be easy to see where the mistakes are. Another option is to script the process. It’s easy to automatically select types of entities and move them to the correct layer.

  • Why does it cause a problem: Drawings with incorrect layers will fail QA inspection, and they’ll annoy the more senior team members when they are left to “do the grunt work.”

  • Other things to consider: It’s normal to make these mistakes at the start of a job; don’t panic. Just try to fix it quickly and learn from your mistakes.

9-Not Following Company Standard Practices

Although it might seem harmless, drawings created ignoring the company guidelines make it challenging for other CAD drafters to make small changes to a drawing at a later date. Whether it’s creating crazy groups of entities no one can understand, or incorrectly formatting the line types, you’ll be sure to anger your fellow team members by ignoring company guidelines.

  • Typical offender: The overly-confident CAD drafter.

  • Best way to avoid: Read the rules on day one and regularly check-in to remind yourself. A trick is to use a script to finish a drawing.

  • Why does it cause a problem: You will create additional work for your colleagues, and it may even confuse you at a later date.

  • Other things to consider: It might be helpful to create a checklist to ensure that you always follow procedures correctly.

10-Getting Promoted To Team Lead

Although it seems like a promotion is a good thing, it can also be the end of your drafting career. Suddenly you’re drowning in paperwork, timesheets, team rotas, and admin, with no time left to dedicate to the one thing you really enjoy doing: sitting down in front of a CAD program and getting some drafting done.

  • Typical offender: Experienced CAD drafters.

  • Best way to avoid: If you know you enjoy spending your time at work drafting, just say no to the promotion.

  • Why does it cause a problem: You’ll spend more time on admin, database management or people management, than you will on the thing that you really love: drafting.

  • Other things to consider: Sometimes you do want to move further with a new role, but be sure that you’re not losing the one thing that motivates you to go to work every day.

Marcin Szyc Profile Picture Worquick

Rose Barfield has worked with CAD for 13 years, she started as a technical illustrator and now works in the development team for BricsCAD. In that time she has worked with engineers, designers, technical authors and CAD drafters. She has read 1000s of support requests and taught more people than she can count how to get started with CAD and yet, she still loves every second she gets to spend working with CAD software.


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Mar 27

I completely agree.

I once wrote 33 useful comments on the same topic: