Computer Layout and Pattern Transfer

by Wallace Venable

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Computer Layout and Pattern Transfer
I prefer to do more complex part layout tasks on my computer, rather than on wood or metal. There are many options for graphics packages, including CAD, "vector graphics" programs, and "paint" programs. I use a program called Micrografx Designer, which is no longer sold new. It is essentially a Corel Draw clone, and there is a variety of similar programs available as "Draw" packages. Designer is a "vector" graphics package with some mechanical drawing features, and allows me to manipulate dimensions as well as shapes and colours. A particular example of where such technology is very useful is in the layout of the tracker bar for my John Smith organ.

For my tracker bar pattern, I used my computer graphic's "move-duplicate" feature to create a set of hole centre lines and outlines. When I printed the result, I found that, as close as I could measure, the span between the end holes was exactly the 130 mm called for on the plans.  Having produced a suitable layout, you then face the task of transferring it to the material to be processed. I have found a simple solution in the form of "full sheet" labels, run through my computer's printer. These labels are sold in stationer's shops. As an American, I buy a box of 100 8.5 by 11 inch sheets, and I assume similar sheets in A4 size are sold elsewhere. Pattern transfer is a simple matter of trim-peel-stick. I have found that the labels will stick to most metals and many wood surfaces.

While you are preparing the pattern, you can add rough-out dimensions, drill sizes, and other notes. I also use the copy-and-paste feature to arrange several patterns on a sheet, and usually create two copies of each on the page "just in case."  The photo below shows the pattern for the top of the tracker bar stuck in place.  I have used the label-transfer process for a number of things over the years. It is particularly useful on small sheet metal parts, as well as wood.

The three photos below show the process in use for laying out the body block, arms, and feet for my conductor, along with the bandsawn parts ready for the knife. I am using a "mature figured" male clown, rather than John's full-figured female. Hey, I'm building MY organ, not his!

Wallace Venable

Layout stuck onto tracker bar

Laying out the parts for the conductor

Laying out the parts for the conductor

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