Saturday, 16 August 2014

Top 5 Powerful Tools Designers Need

Top 5 Powerful Tools Designers Need

Whether you're an Architect, Interior Designer, Engineer, everything in between, or even just renovating your own home, there are 5 tools that are guaranteed to make your life easier. I've found that throughout my career in Manufacturing and Detailed Design, as long as I have these tools by my side, there isn't much that can stop me.

#5 - Measurement Tools:

There is a big list of tools out there. Here are a couple that I never leave home without:

Tape Measures

Maybe it's the length of a wall, overall dimensions of an enclosure, or just the diameter of some holes, a tape measure is your best friend. It is reasonably accurate to within 1/16" or 1mm, and are pretty much the most versatile of measurement tools.


If you're in a Detailed Design, Manufacturing, or Engineering role, and need to get down to a thousandth of an inch, or a tenth of a millimeter, this is your equipment of choice. With the ability to accurately measure depth of holes, outside and inside dimensions, you can't go wrong carrying a pair of these around with you. (Bonus: You can even scribe lines in most materials with them as they are usually made from hardened stainless steel!)

Laser Distance Measurer

If you're working with buildings, installing a cladding system, measuring walls to develop a layout of a room, or need to quickly find out a ceiling height, this is your best friend. With accuracy up to 1/16" (1.6mm), and a range up to 100' or more, no job is too big or difficult to measure as long as you have this tool by your side.

#4 - Smart Phone:

I don't know how anyone did it 10 years ago. The ability to take a photo of something on a job site or on the board room white board, and instantly email or text message it to all of the stakeholders of a project is extremely powerful. Not to mention the ability to keep organized electronically, having access to all of your contacts / emails, and the seemingly infinite number of apps that can make your life easier. This tool seems like a given, I mean, who doesn't have a smart phone? (Trust me, some people don't and they're missing out).

#3 - Coffee:

Get more stuff done, faster.

#2 - Journal / Sketchbook:

Anything I ever need to write down goes in a black notebook. Contacts I make go in here, an ongoing to-do list that I update every morning with my first cup of coffee, quick hand sketches, mathematical equations, etc. Forget all of those electronic productivity apps and spreadsheets, this trumps them all. My suggestion is to find a type of notebook that you love and stick with it - the quality of paper, the cover material, even the size. When you find the right book for you, you will know. It's surprisingly important to have a ritual of only writing in one type of book. It becomes part of your character.

#1 - Pencil / Writing Tool:

This is your most important tool. 
- If you get caught in the hall and someone has a question, you can quickly sketch a diagram. 
- If you're on the shop floor and there is a manufacturing issue, you can do some quick calculations and sketches. 
- Maybe you're out for a night on the town with some friends, and all of a sudden have an epiphany regarding the new logo you've been trying to design - sketch it out on a napkin.
- If you're on a job site and you need to mark some fastener locations on a wall, put down your coffee, look for the dimensioned drawings on your smart phone, measure up the wall with your tape measure, and using your journal / notebook as a straight edge, mark some cross hairs on the wall with your pencil.

What tools do you find most valuable for your profession?