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Top tools that architects use: digital and physical tools aids

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Try Bonsai, a suite of digital tools for architects, here.
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Updated on:
December 11, 2022
December 11, 2022
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The tools that architects use help them come up with amazing creations and plans for the buildings and structures we live and work in. If you are an architect yourself, you should know that the word originates from "architektōn," which is Greek for chief carpenter - and as a carpenter, you will need a good set of tools.

Architects have been around for quite some time now, with the first officially recognized one being Imhotep in 2600 BCE. He envisioned the first pyramid, and other people with similar skills followed through.

Today, an architect has great visions for grandeur and a good tool bag that can help them reach that. Here are a couple of essential instruments - physical or not - that an architect uses.

Digital Tools

Architecture school focuses on the classic tools that you can use to create your designs, such as tracing paper and other useful instruments. However, there are also a few digital tools that you can get - some of which are at a very reasonable price. Here are some of them:

Electric Eraser

Regular erasers are useful, but the constant wiggling can be a great annoyance. Not to mention that constant hand rubbing could get very tiresome at some point. As a result, you might want to go for a digital eraser. This can reduce hand fatigue and make things so much easier for you.

Pen Tablet

At architecture school, you mostly rely on analog, physical tools to lay down your sketches. That being said, this can take a lot of space and can significantly affect your comfort when you are working from a different location.

A pen tablet such as the iPad Pro and an Apple pencil will allow you to save your documents in a software form and you will no longer have to carry all your pens, paper, and other architecture tools to create your rough sketches.

Digital Drawing Tools

A sketchbook is not always in paper form - you can get it in digital form as well. Almost every architect has a digital drawing board of some sort, but 3D pens have also increased quite a lot in popularity. Even with the additional cost, many people find it worth it.

Architectural Software

Many architects utilize various apps to do their job. For instance, if you are into architecture design, you may use an app to take pictures of the place you work on.

Some apps are also efficient at making models automatically, which makes your job much easier. Technology is constantly improving, and so do the tools available for architects. Check out our full list of the best architect apps.

Proposal and Invoicing Tools

As an architect, especially if you are a freelancer, you will have to send proposals to your clients and possibly send them invoices as well.

In that case, you need an app to send architect invoices, contracts, and proposals to your customers.

Bonsai Tools for Architects

When you are a small business owner doing architecture work, you will have many payments to make and receive, as well as contracts and invoices to send to your clients. The Bonsai Freelancer suite can help you with all of that and more.We'll quickly go over some features and free tools you could try for your architectural business development.

Bonsai Proposal

The Bonsai software is an excellent program for sending invoices, contracts, and proposals.

For instance, when you meet your potential clients for the first time, you can use the Bonsai proposal service to present and explain the project's costs.

Bonsai has you covered with a proposal template for architects.

Bonsai Invoicing

If the project goes through, you can send them an invoice upon finishing the job.

Invoices can be sent manually, or they may be automated based on your needs from Bonsai CRM. This can be very useful if you are doing regular work and are sending an invoice to every client.

Try our free architecture template for invoices here.

Bonsai Contracts

Contracts can take a fair amount of your time if you have to write them by hand. For this reason, the contract feature that comes with the Bonsai tool can be very helpful.

Based on the information that you have on your client, the contract tool will automatically set your paperwork. All that you have to do is send it to your client.

Try our legally reviewed architect contract template today.

Bonsai Bank Account

Bonsai is an efficient tool to take care of your finances, cash flow and taxes. The bank account provided by Bonsai allows you to receive and send money, depending on your needs.

For instance, Bonsai's business account may be used to pay for supplies and receive payment for your services. Also, by using our Envelopes feature, you may easily organize your money with sub-accounts instantly.

Bonsai Tax

While Bonsai's business account expense tracker can help you organize your money, it may help you settle your matters with the IRS. This can be incredibly efficient if you are a freelancer.

The platform is very user-friendly, and most of the services are automated. This will help you save time so that you may focus on the things that matter: your architectural projects.

Physical Tools

In architecture school, the students often learn to make their architectural drawings using physical drafting tools. Here are some of the most common physical architecture tools that many of these specialists use during their sketching process.

Protective Gloves

As an architect, you will often work with knives and if you are not careful, you can easily hurt your hands. As a result, most architects use gloves during their projects. This will help avoid any unfortunate accidents and unwanted cuts.

Desk Lamps

As an architect, you may have to work at odd hours during the night. This means you will need enough light to put your describing architectural techniques into practice and ensure good visibility of your drawings. This is why a desk lamp can prove to be a great tool.


An architect's tool bag is not complete without a T-square. This one is a classic and with it, an architect student or professional will be able to draw different angles on the architect's scale, allowing them to create a variety of projects.

Drafting Paper

This paper is something that an architect cannot go without. Whether you are a student or a professional, the final architectural plan will end up on a big piece of paper known as drafting paper.

Drafting Tape

As an architect, you will have multiple concepts to put down on paper. However, the paper may likely wiggle and constantly slip on the drafting board - in which case, you will need drafting tape to keep everything together.

This makes sure that your architectural plans don't fall while you are in the middle of your creation process.

Mechanical Pencils

Architects have to do some technical drawings that a regular wooden pencil won't be able to keep up with. The classic pencils lose their edge very quickly and you won't be able to practice your hand-drawn techniques efficiently. For this reason, a mechanical pencil is an essential tool in your kit.


Your architectural techniques need to be error-free so that the structures you're designing are top-notch. For straight lines you have rulers - but when it comes to circles, a compass will be an invaluable tool.

French Curve

Architecture projects aren't comprised only of straight lines or circles. So, if a compass or a ruler doesn't get the job done smoothly, you may benefit more from a french curve. A clear one may be more efficient if you need to see through the background design as well.

Precision Knives

Aside from the sketches, architects may also need to create a model now and again. After you draw out the lines on the materials, you can use precision knives to cut everything out. You will need sharp knives of different sizes to create the perfect models.

Lining Pens

Fine lines are an essential part of an architect's job. Sometimes, you may need to draw thin lines; other times, thicker lines may be what you need to get the project done. An architecture student will often invest in felt tip markers and drawing pens of various sizes to get the job done efficiently.

Paper Trimmer

While paper trimmers are not specifically used just in architectural jobs, they can still prove very useful. Drafting papers, for instance, can be quite large sometimes - so, for them to fit your project, you will need to cut them to size.

Make sure that the blades are sharp enough to cut the paper that you are using. Some paper cutters can cut only to specific sizes, so ensure that you get one fitting for your work.

Adjustable Triangle

Adjustable triangles are also great measuring devices that an architect should never be without. It will help you measure angles, allowing you to create an accurate blueprint and get all the information that you need. It's a simple, yet efficient tool.

Scale Ruler

Something that should never miss from your bag is an architect's scale ruler. There are several options for you to choose from, whether smaller or larger, so you should choose according to your projects.

You may often have to scale your projects - such as turning a small blueprint into a larger one and vice-versa. A scale ruler will allow you to decode the measurements so that you don't translate them into the wrong size accidentally.

Cutting Mat

Architecture students will often cut through their designs at different angles, and doing it on a desk can end up leaving marks. This is why you will need a cutting mat to make sure that your architectural graphics do not ruin your tables.

Pentel Sign Pen

Pentel sign pens are frequently used by architects to sign documents and even to sketch. They use water-based ink making them the perfect choices for drafting papers. They have great strength, and the flow of the ink allows them to draw lines in different sizes. They are also very useful for architects that are constantly on the go.

Sketch Book

You never know when inspiration could hit you for a project, which is why you should always have a sketchbook on hand. You may use it to draw the images for reference or even practice your designs before you turn them into the final form.

Drafting Chair

One aspect that architects often ignore is the chair that they sit on, although it is also a tool of great value. As an architect, you will probably be sitting down a lot, so you need to make sure that your chair is comfortable.

Drafting chairs often have high backs that will enable you to keep a straight posture. They also come with supportive cushioning. You'll be sitting on that chair a lot, so ensure that you choose the right one.

Tracing Paper

This is also perhaps one of the most important tools that architecture students will learn to use. There may be many times when you will need to replicate your original work, and trace paper will work like a stencil. Since it is transparent, tracing paper allows you to create a copy that is very accurate and close to the original.

Drawing Board

Architects require a solid surface when they are drawing - which is where drawing boards come in. The drawing board will provide a smooth workspace for you to get your work done and create your sketches. It needs to have a barricaded edge as well so that your architectural designs and tools don't fall off.

Drafting Brush

An architect's job can sometimes be very messy, and a drafting brush may prove useful. If you are drafting and a mess forms on your paper, you can use the said brush to make things look more presentable. If you can't see past the mess, it can affect your work, so you will need to always keep this tool at hand.

Metal Ruler

As an architect, you will probably use metal rulers quite often. These rulers are very efficient for quick measurements on a small scale. This type of ruler can measure up to 72 inches and is great for when you are putting your projects on paper.

Measuring Tape for Straight Lines

Metal rulers are great, but when you want to measure in a straight line, sometimes it may not be enough. The measuring tape is longer and much more flexible and is usually the appropriate choice when you want to measure a corner or a curve. Go for a measuring tape with a locking setting so that if a reaction happens, it won't bother your readings.

The Bottom Line

As an architect, you should always be prepared. You may not be able to get all your tools in the first shopping round, but make sure that you gather as many of them as possible. With all your tools ready, you will save a lot of time and effort.

Try Bonsai, a suite of digital tools for architects, here.
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