Feet and Inches
To the many questions the carpenter asks about a new set of working drawings, might be added, how big is it? Although he may understand the drawings, he can't begin to build until he has some indication of size. A carpenter relies on a scaled drawing, or a dimensioned drawing, for such information.
Most of the misunderstandings that occur between the drawing board and the finished set are over dimensions, such as the wall that is too small for the sofa or doors that are too large for the openings. The carpenter is often fit to chew nails, with an unscaled drawing, vital dimensions missing, when he discovers the designer is off to remote parts in search of a nineteenth-century crocheted tea cosy.
The dimensions that are put on the drawing are not only the ones that were used to develop the drawing but those that will help the carpenter lay out and construct the piece in the shop. To think through the construction doesn't usurp the carpenter's place in the theatre. It is, however, a constant reminder of the importance of dimensions.
As it has been pointed out, the dimension line is a lightweight line with arrowheads at either end to indicate the extent of the surface being dimensioned. The figures, running parallel to the dimension line, are set above the line or into the line. The latter method, though taking more time to draw, leaves less room for confusion.
The scale of most scenery makes it impractical to dimension in inches unless the distance is under a foot. The figures are in inches up to 12" then in feet and inches, such as 1'6". There is too much of a chance that small dimensions over a foot, such as 18", might be mistaken for 1'8".
When the dimension line is perpendicular, the figures read upward. On a slanted dimension line right of perpendicular, the figures read upward and conversely; they read downward on a slanted dimension line left of perpendicular. In other words, all dimensions are read from the bottom or right-hand side of the blueprint.
Automotive and aircraft industries have the practice of setting the figures into the dimension line horizontally regardless of the direction of the line. All figures can be read from the bottom of the print. Although such practice saves time in drafting, it occupies considerably more space. Either method is adaptable to drafting in the theatre as long as one is consistent throughout the drawing.
The position of a dimension can cause confusion. The placement, of course, de-