Keeping Your Skills Sharp

Are you stuck in a rut at work? Do you feel “pigeon-holed” regarding your SOLIDWORKS knowledge? Would you like to branch out with your capabilities or hone your skills? Here’s a thought; try using SOLIDWORKS for your next home project.


Frankly speaking, it doesn’t have to be a home project. Perhaps you have a hobby that would benefit from SOLIDWORKS, or an interesting model in mind that would be fun to draw up just for the sheer joy of it. At CADimensions, the application engineers might keep their skills sharp by engaging in a competition to design a toy gun, designing components for a quad copter, or building a barn.

From a personal standpoint, I have used SOLIDWORKS for all sorts of personal projects. These projects include laying out a bathroom porcelain tile floor, building a shed, and even designing a house (which would be a fitting topic for a future post). Most recently, there was a hammock chair at Three Brothers Winery in Geneva, NY, that I spotted and felt would be fun to build. Not to mention it was very comfortable!


My approach for this particular project was to design in a single part file using separate bodies for each piece of wood. The bodies were then saved out as independent part files. An assembly was created. Toolbox was used to insert the hardware. The rope was created as swept features. The fabric was extruded as a thin feature and the cushion was added on as an additional extrusion. Once the drawings were done, I knew exactly where to create each cut and drill all the holes. The previous image was rendered in PhotoView360. The chair looked good on the computer, so it was time to get to work. Since I already had my bill of materials (thanks again to SOLIDWORKS), getting all the required material was easy.


The chair turned out well, but I’m not sure which part of the project was more fun; drawing it up in SOLIDWORKS, or actually building it. Not only did the project allow me to hone my carpentry skills, it made for an interesting way to practice my SOLIDWORKS techniques while applying best practices and expanding my skill set.

Designers don’t become experts overnight. It takes many months of real world experience using the software. If it is possible to find varied and interesting projects to work on, your SOLIDWORKS skills can become more wide ranging. Find something you are passionate about, use SOLIDWORKS to help work through the problem, and feed your creativity.

Getting back to the question of which part of my chair project I liked best, I’ve come to a conclusion. It’s sitting in it!

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