Blueprint Reading Basics For Students Taking Carpenter Courses


Drawings are very much the language of construction. Everyone down the line, from architects to foremen to workers on the ground, use both rough sketches and official blueprints to communicate their ideas and how they should be brought to life.

However, like any language, it takes time to become fluent, and learning to understand blueprints can be a daunting task for an apprentice carpenter. A construction job can have all kinds of different blueprints covering a number of different views, areas, and structures, and it can be difficult for a novice tradesman to get to grips with.

Pre-apprenticeship courses provide students with detailed blueprint training, so they can begin learning their trade with the knowledge needed to negotiate complex drafts.

Different Types Of Blueprints that Carpenter Training School Students Use

Plan, elevation, and section are the three basic views that blueprints appear in. A plan is a bird’s eye perspective, most commonly on a horizontal plane 30” above the floor. Elevation blueprints show a side-view of an object from north, south, east and west. A section blueprint, meanwhile, shows a cut-through view of the construction, to give a clearer picture of how it will be built.

During carpenter training school, students are also introduced to specialized types of blueprints, such as plot, foundation, and floor plans. Of particular importance is framing plans, which show dimensions and arrangements for wood-frame construction, including specifications for particular parts such as corner posts, rafters, and ridges.

Plans views show how a project looks from above.
Plans views show how a project looks from above.

How Students Taking Carpenter Courses Read Scales & Identify Objects

Scales ensure that blueprints give a precise representation of finished construction. Architectural scales, which are the most common, are presented in fractions, for example ¼” = 1’ to denote one quarter-inch equaling one foot. Engineering scales use integer ratios, such as 1” = 10’ where one inch equals ten feet, and are generally used for large projects like roads and highways.

Once they’ve established the scale, students enrolled in carpenter courses can easily identify different objects in a blueprint. For example, doors and windows are represented by large gaps between wall lines. Appliances are usually represented by recognizable symbols, such as a stovetop for an oven.

How To Read Blueprint Lines When You Become A Carpenter

There are eight main line types on a standard blueprint. The thickest drawn are object lines, which represent the visible sides of an object. Hidden lines represent the sides of objects not visible to the eye. The distance between two points is denoted by dimension lines, which have arrowheads at each end.

Curved or circular objects will have a center line showing the central axis. Phantom lines illustrate alternate positions of a moving structure, and are drawn with one long and two short dashes. Leader lines are drawn as arrowheads, to point out parts of a plan that are associated with a note or reference, while break lines are typically used to denote what lies beneath an object, and are drawn either in short solid waves, or long, thin lines with freehand zigzags.

Different types of line are used to denote different objects on a blueprint.
Different types of line are used to denote different objects on a blueprint.

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