Your questions answered – Must have CAD books for Drafters

This week’s great question came from Steven.

‘Hi are you able to advice me on a course book that would give me all the correct information to produce a high standard joinery drawing that would then be sent off for approval’

Do you want the quick answer?

I’m afraid that the quick answer is ‘No’ – I’m not aware of any such book. Maybe if such a book existed, I wouldn’t write the CAD Setter Out blog!

My book recommendations

If you want to produce great technical drawings, there are three areas of expertise you must master.

First you must master your subject, then learn to communicate your knowledge through drawings, and finally you will need to learn how to use CAD software to create those drawings.

Master your subject

I my opinion, there haven’t been any really comprehensive books written on woodworking in years.  Of the many woodworking books I have owned and read, there are three that I return to frequently:

The Practical Carpenter and Joiner Illustrated
A quick Guide to every branch of the trade by 15 specialist Authors

The practical carpenter and joinerMy copy was published in 1961, so many of the techniques described are outdated, however – you still won’t come across a more comprehensive description of the tools, techniques and methods used in Joinery and Furniture making. This book is a must read for anyone just starting off as a Setter Out.


Design and Practice of Joinery
By John Eastwick-Field and John Stillman

The third edition that I own was published in 1966. What I love about this book is the careful and logical way the Authors have worked through end joints, edge joints corner joints etc. This book isn’t just a great source of knowledge, its a framework  and a way of thinking.

Manual of First and Second Fixing Carpentry
By Les Goring

This is the most up to date of my recommendations,  written first in 2005, then re-published in 2009. This book covers some essential skills for a woodwork draughtsman, including site surveying, marking out and installation of joinery.



The Language of Technical Drawing

Effective communication through technical drawing relies on both the drafter and the reader understanding the language of Technical drawing.

The basic language of technical drawing is line-weights, line types e.t.c after this comes considerations such as how the drawing is laid out on a sheet and how complex drawing sets are composed

The Art of Mechanical Drawing
A practical course for Drafting and design, By William F. Willard

This pocket sized book was original published in 1912 and has recently been re-published by popular mechanics magazine.

It is a mistake to think that the use of CAD software means that you don’t need to understand basic maths, trigonometry and geometry. This beautifully laid out book was written long before computers were thought of and will teach you every fundamental concept you will need to know about technical drawing.

Manual of Engineering Drawing
Technical Product specification and documentation to British and international standards by Colin H.Simmons, Neil Phelps & Dennis E. Maguire

This book is a comprehensive as you will find on the subject of creating technical drawings to the British and ISO standard, and also includes helpful sections on topics such as Drawing office management.

The team of Authors all sit on the board at BSI global that writes BS8888, so you literally won’t find a greater authority on it’s implementation. This book focuses on Engineering drawing and contains sections on Geometrical and theoretical toleranceing that might be lost on a construction industry drafter, but the basic principles are the same in every industry.

 Working Drawings Handbook

by Keith Styles

There comes a point where creating a great shop drawing simply isn’t enough. To manage a large project effectively, a Drafter needs to be able to conceive and plan a drawing set that leads the reader through the information that they need.

While this book is aimed primarily at Architects, there is a lot on Keith’s system that can be adopted by a Setter Out.

CAD – Computer Aided Design

Nobody gets hired to draw these days without knowledge of at least one CAD package. I loved drawing by hand on my trusted old drawing board, but I have to admit that there is no way I could work as quickly and as accurately by hand as I do with CAD.

In the construction industry the de-facto standard is AutoCAD for 2D drawings, however this is rapidly being superseded by 3D parametric programs such as Autodesk Inventor (For manufacturing) and Revit (For Architectural design).

My most trusted CAD books are from the ‘Mastering’ series published by Sybex. The books are comprehensive volumns that are a complete reference for the software package you are learning.

Mastering AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT

Mastering Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor LT

Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture

What are YOU reading

I love books and I have a big collection of reference books on the topics that I love. In this post I’ve listed a few of the books that have really stood out and have been instrumental in forming the techniques and methods I apply to my work everyday.

What books would you recommend to a new Drafter?

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links to If you decide to buy one of these books after clicking the link I will get a small commission. You are under no obligation to buy anything and it won’t cost you any extra.

18 Responses to “Your questions answered – Must have CAD books for Drafters

  • Jenn Gustafson
    6 years ago

    I agree with others that there is no one right answer. Mastering AutoCAD was my best friend about 25 years ago when I taught myself CAD in a drafting class back in high school, the other one brave enough to jump in! And I’m so glad I did.

    I also find learning from other users in the field helpful as well, what works and doesn’t work for them.

    Just never stop learning, the technology changes so fast, sitting idle isn’t an option!

    thanks for the great content Paul!

  • Chris D
    6 years ago

    If you work with ISO and DIN a lot this book is a must have
    ‘Mechanical and Metal Trades Handbook Paperback – December 31, 2012 by Ulrich Fischer’

  • Stefan
    7 years ago

    I’m reading through Manual of Engineering Drawing and I am blown away at the information in there that was not given to us in college

    • Hi Stefan,

      I’m glad to hear that you are finding it useful!

      Why do you think that this wasn’t covered in college? Was it lack of time? Lack of knowledge? or lack of understanding that it could be useful to you?


  • Erik Karlsson
    7 years ago

    Ill definitely be checking out “Design and Practice of Joinery”. I’d recon those skills would be useful when designing for 3D prints as well.

  • Todd Schuler
    9 years ago

    For Engineering or Mechanical drawings, here is one:
    The Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing
    I have a version of this book that dates to the 1950’s and a more recent version as well.

  • Balasubramanian
    9 years ago

    Hi Paul,

    I fully agree with your view that there is no single source book, through which you could master any CAD related suject viz., Autocad or Inventor.

    As already discussed with you, I started learning Inventor 2015, only from the last week of Feb 2015. I have the Inventor 2015 software, and I used to rigorously spend a minimum of 4 to 5 hrs daily on learning Inventor from scratch, through Youtube website exercises only. I have within a span of 2 months, acquired a fair amount of confidence in using Inventor for my day to day mechanical designs.. I do not have a single reference book with me. Probably my past experiences of working as a designer using the conventional drawing board helped me hasten my grasp of Inventor 2015.

    Most of the youtube exercises on Inventor are very good and easy to comprehend and understand. But as I said, there are certain topics of Inventor, where I am really struggling to understand from youtube.. These topics are:
    – Multi Body part modelling.
    – Derived parts and Top Down design
    – Adaptivity
    – Animation
    -iLogic,iMate and iFeature.

    Your mails also helped me to learn a few shortcuts.
    But I am seriously looking for webinars or experts like you, who could help me master the above listed topics. I have set for myself a deadline of July2015, by which time I should master Inventor2015, and be able to teach and train 3 of my Junior Designers.

    I look forward to your regular mails and webinars on the above subject,

    Thank You,

  • Scott Orman
    9 years ago

    For a CAD Drafter, The AutoCAD Bible to get all the commands needed.
    But, more importantly, “AutoCAD, Secrets Every User Should Know”. By Dan Abbott. Published around 2007, still being used by me today. His credentials include AutoCAD U.
    After that, I am not sure, my education goes in the direction of AutoLISP.

  • I second your vote for Mastering AutoCAD. Back at the turn of the century I remember reading Mastering AutoCAD 14 to teach myself solid modeling techniques. George Omura’s book was a lifesaver for me as I tackled my first steel sculpture project.

    I recommend Architectural Geometry by Bentley Press as a wonderful resource for learning about complex geometries and how they can be expressed parametrically. Elements of Parametric Design by Robert Woodbury is also an excellent read.

  • Dan Sypersma
    9 years ago

    Three of my favorite AutoCad tutorials are written by Rick Ellis: A Practical Guide to AutoCad Civil 3d, A Practical Guide to AutoCad Map and A Practical Guide to Carlson Survey. Rick writes a very in depth book on any subject that he covers. Easy to follow and great examples how to become a power user with AutoCad Map and Civil products. Rick’s books can be found at

    Of course no CAD library should be without the “For Dummies” series of CAD/GIS/Database reference books.


  • Here are some suggestions from the AUGI forums:

    ‘Wanderer’ Recommends Ellen Finklesteins ‘AutoCAD Bible’ (I second that)
    ‘CADtag’ recommends “A Manual of engineering Drawing for Students and Draftsmen” by Thomas French
    ‘Reikajapan’ also recommends “Technical Drawing” by Giesecke

    CADtag also recommends anything by Francis Ching, which I have to say are beautifully illustrated.

    • Nice recommendations, and well put. In so many things with CAD or drafting, I’ve found there is never a “single source of truth”. It’s a matter of finding a few good resources, using that information, and making the result great than the sum of it’s parts.

  • Here are a few additional recommendations from my colleagues onFacebook.
    Craig Black recommends:
    “Technical Drawing” by Giesecke
    “Technical Drawing” by Goetsch
    “Engineering Drawing” by French
    Todd Schuler recommends
    “The Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing” By Luzadder & Duff