1.8 (Released 07/19/2017)
This module provides an easy way to create
wood beams, joists, rafters, plates, hips and valleys, along with tags and beam schedule, using AutoCAD
Architecture (ACA) or MEP. This module provides not only the members, but also the MVBlock
Property Set Definition, and Schedule table style. All this is contained in one dialog, accessed by one
command - no need to access various palettes and ribbon tabs. This module may be used with or without the
Productivity Pack for AEC.
All standard lumber sizes are available, in nominal, rough, and pressure treated
varieties, along with engineerd wood product members as provided by the major
manufacturers. A multiple member option is provided for all member types that
This module greatly simplifies the
process of defining and placing these members. Select the member you need, specify the
Bearing Ht. elevations, and click
Add Member to draw it. Width and Depth of the selected beam are shown for
reference. Length may be drawn on screen, as you would a line or a wall, or
may be pre-specified.
(possible for GluLam beams only) may be specified by either the
Radius, if known, or the Spring Height. Arched beams are very difficult to
create in standard ACA, but here it can be easily done.
Normal procedure would be to start with
End 1, usually the Brg Ht but alternately the T.O.M. (Top of Member),
depending on what you are doing. Values entered here are automatically
applied to End 2.
headers may be created with Nominal or Pressure Treated lumber. The
option to add spacer(s) is enabled for these member types when the Multiple
Member Option is chosen. The spacer is normally 1/2" (the default value)
but may be set as required. Note that the resulting shape name then
includes a "-S", followed by a number to denote the space
value (8 means 8/16, for 1/2", etc.). This allows you to have spaced and unspaced
members with no confusion between the two.
A note about the spacer is
also automatically added to the Note field for the schedule.
allows you to select a member already placed in your drawing. The dialog
will re-display with its shape selected (with the correct tab and group
selected), and also with the placement options set to match the selected
option govern how a beam is placed at Add Member:
A member may be drawn from point to point on screen, like a
line or wall, or you may preset it to a desired length. In this case
you will be prompted for the starting point only, and then the
direction. If preset, the length is the horizontal run distance
(even if the member is sloped), exclusive of any extensions. With
either method, the point(s) you specify should be the bearing points
(normally the outer surface of a supporting wall or other support) -
extensions (if specified) will be added outboard of these points.
or Arched Option
The beam may be straight or arched by specifying either the
spring height or radius, whichever you know at this point. Note that
the schedule will always indicate the radius, regardless of which
method was used to specify the arch. Note: only GluLam beams
are capable of being arched. This option is not available for any
other member types.
Normal practice for rafters would be to enter the Brg Ht for End1,
then enter the desired Pitch (or slope angle), which will then
calculate the Brg Ht for End 2. For typical "bird's mouth"
construction, a Seat Cut width (normally the wall width) may be
entered for End 1. This will lower the Brg Ht of End 2, based on
geometry springing from the inside corner of the wall. Note that a preset length
(run) must be specified. Alternately, you can enter the Brg Ht for
both ends directly. A help button [?] next to the Seat width
entry helps to make this clear. Note that when a seat cut is used,
T.O.M. (Top of Member) cannot be entered - it displays the result
Sloped beams and arched beams may be cut Square or Plumb as
required. (Does not apply to straight horizontal beams.) Note that
the beam length takes the plumb cut into account. Also note that if
plumb cuts are specified for an arched beam, ACA will not draw them
as plumb cut; however, the program recognizes them for the schedule,
and it takes them into account in calculating the length.
Extensions are measured horizontally from each bearing point,
and are added outboard of these points. This applies whether you
have specified a preset length or are drawing the beam from point to
point on screen.
Plates are placed differently from other members. Preset
length, extensions, and pitch are all disabled. The member is
normally drawn point to point (either right or left justified) along
the perimeter of the building. You can choose among three methods of
- Continuously - This will create
mitered corners, including the starting corner if you end on it.
This method has the disadvantage of not showing end conditions
realistically, but it's quick and easy, and all lengths in the
schedule will be
at least long enough (with some longer), and it lets the
builders determine which way the ends should meet.
- One run at a time - With this
method you would start drawing the plates for all the "by
walls" (those whose ends extend all the way) first, then
fill in the "butt wall" plates in between. Here you
are in control of the end condtions, and it will be shown in
- One piece at a time - much the
same as #2, except that you can control lumber sizing better.
For example, if you know that 12' long plates will be
purchased, you could draw the first plate for a 20' wall at 12'
(easily done with standard Direct Distance input),
then continue drawing another plate in to the corner. In this case, the
schedule will show a 12' plate and an 8' plate instead of a 20'
If you are
using a drawing system that sets the Elevation system variable, note
that the current elevation will be added to whatever you specify as the framing member Bearing Height.
version 1.5, this feature allows you to create a fascia cut and soffit
at the end of a rafter. This option is enabled only when the member is
sloped and has an extension at the lower end. The result is not
visible in plan, but will show in a 3D view.
Corner(s) to Match Rafter
version 1.6, this option allows you to chamfer the top corner(s) of a
ceiling joist to prevent it from protruding above the adjoining
rafter. When you click this option, it will display a dialog to
calculate the required chamfer:
chamfer may be applied to either or both ends. The
result is not visible in plan, but will show in a 3D view.
Right/Left/Centered are provided for all members, and Top/Bottom for some. Bottom justification is most often the
right choice, but a Top justification (where available) may be used
in the case of a beam where, if you were to change the depth of the
beam (see Modify
Existing below), you would want the top of the beam to remain
unchanged. Your choice of justification is retained until chosing a
different member - it then changes to the default for that member. Rims and Plates default to BR, while
all others default to BC.
|A Note About
AutoCAD seems to have it backwards for beams. It calls a beam
that lies to the left of its layout line "Left
justified", which is just the opposite of walls, text, or
anything else anywhere else. The prompting in this program uses
"Right" and "Left" as is understood for
walls, etc., to avoid this confusion. So if you go to the
Properties window, know that the justification reported there by
AutoCAD is incorrect.
Modify Existing Beams
This button will allow you to modify the properties of any one or more
existing beams to match the style, BrgHt, and arch properties (if any), as
currently set in the dialog. The beam will retain its endpoints, except
as modified by the current BrgHt setting. Any preset length in the dialog
will be ignored. Hint: It's usually helpful to to use Match
Existing on the beam to obtain its current values, then change
whatever you wish before applying this command.
button allows you to place a hip or valley, using the specifications
currently entered. That information will be transferred to a secondary
dialog and applied to Surface 1. If Surface 2 is to have a
different pitch, its run will be adjusted accordingly.
Tags may be placed on
members automatically as
you draw them, or they may be placed on members already drawn by using the Add/Update
Tags are automatically
assigned a prefix, depending on the type of member, and how it is being used (J
for joist, R for rafter, etc., according to standard practice. Tag numbers are incremented automatically for
each unique member, with respect to its physical properties and its
elevation, and its prefix. Number starts at 01 for each prefix used. Every time a
member is tagged, all previously tagged members are checked,
and if a match is found, that number is used for the current member. Thus
different lengths of the same member shape get different numbers, and different
elevations of the same member also get different numbers.
direction arrow is placed near the tag for all members. This is to provide
orientation in the field for any members having precut openings or any other
non-symmetrical detailing, and to indicate which end is which for sloping
members may be copied, moved in
elevation, and stretched in length before tagging. However, if you change one of
multiple beams that are already tagged, you should re-tag it
to avoid having the same number for two different beams. You can update the tag
by simply tagging it again.
The Tag Beams Automatically
option will speed up your work when placing new beams and is
recommended, unless you want more control over which beams get what
numbers. It is also better to turn this off if members are to be
trimmed, such as when trimming common rafters to a hip or valley, as
this will create members with varying lengths.
Note that the
members, tags, and schedule must all reside in the same drawing.
The Wood Beam
& Joist Schedule is an ACA Schedule Table Style created specially for this
module. Text styles used are the same as used by ACA in other schedules and may
be easily modified by the STYLE command according to your preferences.
To create a schedule, once you have placed and
tagged members, click the Add/Update Schedule button and place it as
desired. If you later add more members, they can be added to the schedule in three
ways. If the Update Schedule Automatically option in turned on,
the member will be added to the schedule as soon as it is tagged, whether
tagging it automatically as drawn or afterwards. If you find too much
delay in updating the schedule for each member added, you can turn
this option off, and simply click the Add/Update Schedule
button to update the schedule. (Note that Update Schedule Automatically
is disabled if Tag Beams Automatically
is turned off.)
If both ends of the member are at the
same height, T.O.M. and BRG HT for END2 will be blank, for easier reading. (The
arrow near the member tag indicates which end is which.)
Note that for arched beams, the radius is given
here regardless of whether it was specified by Radius or by Spring Ht, as needed
for fabricating the beam. Note also that the length given is the arc length of
Hips and Valleys
does not use
the convention of stating the pitch of a hip/valley as P/17, as
that applies only to a hip/valley at a square corner where both
slopes are the same. This program can handle a hip/valley at any corner
and with unequal slopes. Pitch is therefore given as P/12 for all sloped
members, including hips and valleys. In the hip roof sample above, R01-R06
are the common rafters at 8/12, and H01 is the corresponding hip at 5.66/12, where
"Not Common" to help make this clear. (This means there is no
need for a special framing square or calculator - this program has done
feature of this program is the ability to place each member, along with
its tag, on special layers for each (according to it's purpose). This is
done through the use of Layer Key Overrides, which it sets temporarily
as needed. The Minor 1 and Minor 2 overrides are used. These overrides
are part of any Layer Key Style based on "AIA Layer Guidelines
version 3", or "NCS 5.0". This option is
accessed via the Layers button on the main dialog.
placing members with this option in effect, you will be prompted for
your choice of override for the Minor 1 field (to follow
"S-Beam"), or for none at all. This way you can differentiate
between members by layer, to allow visibility control for various plans.
You may add and/or remove LKO's from the list, for whatever works best
for you. The program will remember the last selected LKO. Tags will ways be on
that same layer but with "-Iden" added for the Minor 2 field.
If you happen
to have either of these overrides set (not commonly done), this program will
restore their value after the temporary change. So this will NOT
interfere with your normal layering. In addition, if you have set any
other overrides - perhaps Status, or some custom override - that
override will also be applied to the resulting layer.
Note that this
program uses layer keys STRUCTBEAM and STRUCTBEAMIDEN, so whatever
properties you have set up for them in the current Layer Key Style will
govern, whether you choose to use our member overrides or not.
standard does need to include the Minor1 and Minor2 overrides for this
feature to work. This feature does not modify your layer key style, and
Layer Key Overrides are immediately reset to the way the were before
placing the member.
Creation and Display
in viewports, the layer to be created (as described above) will be
created Frozen in all other viewports. This avoids needing to freeze
it in other viewports manually. If you have a viewport set up for a 3D
view, you will most likely want to see the wood beam elements on all
layers. This can be easily done by clicking the Show All button
when in that viewport.
can also be controlled in this dialog. As seen below, it is set to a
color intended to represent wood when seen in a 3D shaded view. The
color is applied to the member as it is created - it does not affect the
|NOTE: For most
purposes, we now have an easier, and usually preferable, way to
achieve a good display. See Display
Config, below. This Display Properties info is
retained here for anyone wishing to go this route.
by this program will assume the same standard ACA display properties as
any beams. Most significantly, when placed below the drawing current
plane they will display their outlines; when placed above they display
the axis line only. This may be just what you want, but if you would
rather see the outline for all members there is a way to
Select and right-click
a desired member to modify, and select either Edit Style Display or Edit
Object display, depending on what you wish to do. Either choice will
allow you to modify the display of all members, if you wish. To do so, leave
the Override box unchecked and click the button at the upper right (in
the Display Properties tab).
|Which method to use?
Modifying the display properties for all styles is by far
the simplest way to go - do it once and you're done. However, it
may give undesired results if your drawing also contains
structural members other than wood beams. Doing this would also
affect steel beams, for example, which you may wish to show as
centerlines only. If this is the case, then modifying by style
or by objects would provide more flexibility and control.
2. If not
checking the Override, clicking that button (circled above) will take
you to the following dialog. Or, to modify only the style or member,
click the check box to take you to the same dialog. In the
Properties screen (Layer/Color/Linetype tab), Above
Cut Plane Visible is turned off by default. Turn the light
bulb on by clicking on it.
Here is the
display, before and after the modification:
made of three components, require an extra step, as just doing the above
would result in lines showing for the web as well as the outline. Make
sure Comp 2 & 3 are both turned off. Then go to
the Other tab and change two check boxes as shown below.
Doing so will
have the side effect of displaying the member in its assigned color (see
Member Color below) rather than the standard color
of the style definition. If this matters to you, you might want to
perform this step for each style.
Display Configurations are now provided, as an easier (and usually
preferable) way to achieve a desired appearance to your Framing
plans. The two configs are KCS Framing (High) for members
above the cut plain (typically Ceiling and Roof), and KCS Framing
(Low) for members below the cut plain (typically Floor framing).
either of these, architectural objects (walls, doors, etc.) will display
as "screened". The appearance of these objects is controlled
by the properties of the A-Anno-Scrn layer. This is a default ACA layer - you may change it's properties as
desired (Hint: do so in your template file).
The framing members will display as outlines, rather than axis lines, in
all cases, with tags.
The above sample shows some
rafters, with a 10" extension, that have had a Fascia cut
applied. Note that when displayed as an axis line, the extension is
truncated. There seems to be no way to avoid this, but when the
members are displayed as outlines as in the KCS Framing (High)
config, they display properly. Here, the A-Anno-Scrn layer color has
been changed from the default 250 to 252.
Beams Dialog Control
ACA functionality used by this module to create an arched beam displays a dialog
that does not need any input in this context, but has no means of being
suppressed. To avoid confusion and extra
clicks, we provide an external utility that dismisses this dialog
automatically. You will see it on screen briefly before it is dismissed - this is normal. The name of this utility is
Dialog Control, and you will see it in your Windows taskbar. It is
automatically activated by this module whenever needed, and may be
exited whenever you wish.
For any problems, critiques, or kudos, please
contact email@example.com. We'd like to
hear from you.
- Update for R2018
- Preset Elevation handling added
1.72 - Ribbon and toolbar buttons added
- Tag update message revised (and only shows once)
- Bogus layers removed
- Zero length in schedule for TJI's at 180 deg fixed
1.71 - Tag updating fixed
- Chamfer now does all joists in array
- Several I-Joists fixed (3D)
- New layers now display only in current vport, Show All button added
1.70 - Update
Chamfer Corners added, Display Configs added
Updated for R2016
1.40 - Fascia cut added
Updated for R2015
Updated for R2014
Initial release (R2010 - R2013)