Tuesday, July 04, 2006



In this issue:
Talking 'bout walls: Inserting wall elements (cavities) and
dimensioning to face-of-stud

The Seattle Vectorworks Users Group invites you to attend the next meeting planned for Wednesday evening, September 29th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall.
The Wood Construction Center is located at 23rd Avenue South and South Lane Street. Parking is available in the gated lot off South King Street, one block south of Jackson Street. The lecture hall is the building directly adjacent to the parking lot at its south side.
This event is free. We are an independent group not affiliated with the school.
Our goal is to help you get the most out of using Vectorworks.
We have gotten your e-mail address with the help of Nemetschek or you were already on our list. I’m interested in not sending out unwanted e-mails about this group. If you have received the mailing in error, let me know and I’ll be glad to remove your address. And of course, if you know of someone who might be interested in our user group, by all means, pass on this info.
We meet intermittently during the year taking the summers off. We are developing ideas for upcoming meetings and would appreciate hearing from you on what topics you’d like to participate in if you were able to attend. Would it be something like how to apply textures, how Work Group Referencing works, how to set up a simple file? Would it be how to better understand layer linking, what’s scripting all about, how do cabinetmakers structure their drawings? What about VW 11 and Viewports? Don’t forget the topog tools and plugin programs like WinDoor or simply how to edit a polygon.
We can mostly set up the evening to provide some very useful information wherever you are in your learning curve. We treat beginners with care. And those of you with lots of experience can help me learn something new.
You can reach me, Tom Greggs, at tomgreggs@mindspring.com and you can also find information on our meeting schedule and planned topic by surfing to www.accessiblemagic.com.
Let me know what you’d like to learn.
In my first letter sent out this summer I listed some tips for users who haven’t yet tried using the numerical keys 1 through 9 to easily rotate through all faces and angles of your object . Below are two techniques that tie together. The first is for those new to cavity lines and the second is for more advanced users.

First tip! When you draw a wall, the Object Info Palette gives you the opportunity to insert cavities into that wall. Let’s say your finished wall is 4” wide and you want 1/2” wallboard showing on each side. The imagined midpoint of the 4” wall is 2”. Subtract 1/2” from 2” and you get 1-1/2”. This is the dimension you type into the Cavity dialogue box. Click for another cavity line and use the same number--assuming the wall has the same wallboard on each side--but this time type a negative number or -1 1/2 (You may type a dash between the whole number and the fraction. Doesn’t matter.). Done! While still in the dialogue box, I like to give the cavity lines a lighter weight so they don’t compete for attention with the primary wall lines.

Second tip! How do you plan for wall widths on your drawings? If you are using Vectorworks in the world of architecture, it seems there are quite a number of those that size their wall width to match that of studs and they tend to dimension to face-of-stud. And there are others that build up and show the wall cavities and dimension to the finished-face of their walls. Yes, I know that many dimension to the wall’s centerline. In residential construction, the framer is most efficient when he lays out to the wall’s edge position and so you might consider dimensioning your drawings to suite that convention which is face-of-stud.
In any case, both of the styles above rely on someone else eventually doing the math, adding or subtracting the various finishes. This can actually be a good thing since client wishes change and site conditions are fully revealed only upon demolition. But mostly, you can be out front with your drawings and give the installer the best of both worlds using Vectorworks. When drawing at 1/4” per foot or less we will make the cavity lines disappear so our walls are clean. This helps with readability when dimensioning to key structural elements. When drawing on other pages at 1/2” per foot or more, we will show the SAME walls but use other dimensions set to the finished-face. If we wish we can then bring the cavity lines back to a visible state with a click.
There are two key tools that help in placing and adjusting wall locations: Connected Walls and Hide Wall Cavities. Putting the two tools together, I can build up a composite wall of stud plus wall coverings and now zoom in on the line within the wall defining face-of-stud, grab that line and drag the wall to the correct location. The wall connection will not break. Once done you can run the dimension chain from cavity line to cavity line or face-of-stud to face-of-stud. When these inner lines have been dimensioned, you can turn off cavity lines for those pages that don’t need the detail when it’s time to print (File/Document Preferences). Just check the box “Hide Wall Cavities” in the Document Pref’s. On other pages showing areas requiring careful fitting such as baths or kitchens or at larger scales, dimension to the outer edge of the wall or finished-face and uncheck the “Hide Wall Cavities” box to to show cavity lines prior to printing.
Here are some points to understand;
•The idea is that you take the time to construct your walls to reflect their true thickness and insert cavity lines showing at least the face-of-stud line. Draw your walls once at their correct width then duplicate and send the walls to other layers using the Object Info Palette or use Work Group Referencing to develop other views or use the new Viewports in VW 11 which allows you to block out and highlight portions of your plan at larger scale. On the topic of Viewports, they do not become a collection of static lines. When you change the referenced drawing, the Viewport can be refreshed with a single command.
• Associative dimensioning--that is, sticky dimensions that stay stuck to a wall edge--do not stay sticky when you place them on an inner cavity line. The dimension tool will recognize the inner line so you can snap to it but you must manually grab the dimension end and stretch it to the new location if you decide to move the wall after you’ve dimensioned it. I’d love for associative dimensions to recognize the inner lines but I do not find the lack of sticky within the wall to be a big impediment.
•Get comfortable setting up walls to their true thickness and learn to place cavities. This is not hard once you go through it a few times as you will likely have the same few walls to draw again and again so typing in the correct dimension becomes routine. Plus you can save that wall into the library.
•You must remember the turn-cavities-on/turn-cavities-off drill as you print plan pages. I’ll lobby Nemetschek for a sheet-level toggle that allows us to show cavities, or not, page by page rather than going to a single global checkbox as is now the case.
•And lastly, what about the dimension line that looks a little off in the framing drawing because it was set in 1/2” or the thickness of the wallboard? Will that confuse anyone? Not likely at 1/4” per foot, especially if you state clearly that the dimension lines on the floor plan or framing plan pages are set to face-of-stud.

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design

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