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How to Use a Drafting Compass

Set the measurement for your circle or arc at the compass's hinge.
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Draftsmen, artists and architects use drafting compasses when creating blueprints or architectural renderings. Drafting compasses greatly assist in drawing circles or creating an arc. Before computers, drafting compasses were required tools for early classes in plane geometry. The compass is made of metal with two arms, one that hold a small pencil or lead, and another, ending in a needle, that fixes to the center of the circle to be drawn. Using a drafting compass doesn't take any special skills, but it does take a steady hand. Purchase a drafting compass where art or drafting supplies are sold.

Things You'll Need:

  • Compass With Lead
  • Paper

Obtain multiple sheets of paper and lay one on the table in front of you.

Take and examine the compass to get a feel for how it works. Move and adjust both arms of the compass, the side holding the lead or the pencil and the side from which the needle sprouts. Look up at the hinge and note any markings there. Some compasses show a measurement scale similar to that found on a ruler, though the markings are much smaller.

Set the hinge's point to the 1-inch mark.

Grab the handle of the compass above the hinge using the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand.

Position the shoulder needle on the center of the page.

Allow the pencil lead to run along the page, using a sweeping motion as you twirl the compass's handle, making sure its needle remains at one fixed point. As you spin the compass around this point, the device draws a complete circle. The above measurement of 1 inch equals the radius of the drawn circle. A circle with a 1-inch radius will have a 2-inch diameter.

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