Essential Supplies For Architecture Students

This is a list for future students that are planning to major in architecture at a university. This is just a personal list of what I found most helpful after a semster at Penn State university.

Vyco – I had never heard of Vyco before, but it is a pretty useful material. We had to get a rather large piece of vyco, and luckily an architecture drop-out sold me his cheap. It is a softer material that gives a little when you draw so that you aren’t drawing on a hard surface. It really does make a difference.

Parallel Rule – This is one of the most essential tools for drafting. Before going to school, I had never heard of such and thing, and when I ordered it, I had no idea how it worked. Don’t be afraid though, it’s very easy to use after a quick installation. Basically, it is a ruler that slides up and down on your desk with the use of guide wires that always creates parallel lines. It can even be tilted to get angled parallel lines. A definite must for technical drafting. I don’t know how I survived without it before. Keep in mind, they’re rather expensive, but they’re definitely worth it. If you can, invest in the best you can get, because it will be a great investment.

Triangle (30-60-90; 45-45-90) – No, I’m talking about a musical triangle. I am talking about an architects triangle. You should probably get two. A 30 degree triangle and a 45 degree triangle. The come in hand for construction lines and vertical lines (in collaboration with your parallel rule).

Adjustable Triangle – While this one isn’t essential, I found it pretty helpful when I needed to recreate a certain angle of a line. I had a huge 12″ triangle, which was useful for big lines, but I would recommend getting a 6″, a lot easier to handle.

2mm Lead Holder and Lead – Forget old wooden pencils for drafting, get clutch pencils. They’re a lot more durable, you have a better grip, easily interchangeable hardness of leads, and you can always keep a sharp point. Definitely a must for the technical drawings.

Lead Pointer – To go along with the clutch pencil, make sure to get a 2mm lead pointer to sharper that large piece of lead you bought. This is a nifty device that sharpens your lead as you turn the top with it’s metal teeth. It’s quite addicting, but you have to be careful becaues before you know it, you’re lead is gone. Some of my classmates started collecting the lead dust, it piles up after a while.

Kneaded Eraser – A great asset for lightly erasing lines and smudges. Definitely useful in all sorts of situation and a lot of fun to play with.

Compass Set– To be honest, you don’t even need a kit, but you never know when it might come in useful. All you really need is a compass. I prefer the ones without a bar in the middle, mainly because I get frustrated with it, but it is a lot more accurate to get one with a bar in the middle (not sure of the technical name). Compasses come in handy for, well, drawing circles. And door swings.

Proportional Divider – A proportional divider is just that. It takes a certain measurement on one end and on the other converts it to a third, a fourth, a sixth, etc… It’s very useful when scaling a drawing up or down. They are rather expensive though, but if you have the money, I definitely recommend it. If you don’t have the money for it, just get regular dividers (they usually come with a compass kit). They’ll be almost as useful.

Vellum and Tracing Paper (Rolls) – Tracing paper is always good for getting quick sketches/drawings and not wasting your good paper. Vellum is a must. It’s high quality paper that is semi-transparent (kind of like tracing paper). It is great drawing paper, definitely worth it. We used to deal vellum like it was gold.

Drafting tape – Make sure to pick up some drafting tape. Honestly, a roll is all you need, at least that’s all I needed and I used it quite a lot. You’ll use it to stick all your drawings to your board. I still have more than half of my roll.

Circle Template – Not necessary, but can be a time saver at times, especially when drawing Roman temples.

We also had a modeling portion during the semester. Here’s some of the tools we used:

Tacky glue – This is magic glue. Not really, but it was definitely useful and very quick drying. Also, while you’re in the glue aisle, pick up some rubber cement. It’s rather good for gluing paper to things.

Hot Glue Gun – While not good to use on final projects, it is good for quick study models. A definite time saver.

Utility Knife/Xacto Knife – These were a huge asset during the modeling stage. I had to cut so much cardboard, chipboard, and all kinds of paper, they always came in handy. Make sure to get some extra blades. I learned the hard way that cutting with a dull blade leads to bad things. (Nothing gruesome, just bad craftsmanship). I would suggest getting a utility knife with a pop-up case like the one listed so that the blade is easily changed, not the kind with a screw. Those are a pain.

All this ends up being pretty expensive, but you’ll use all of it, so it’ll get it’s use. If you are are wondering where to find these supplies, visit where I have each product listed.