drawing board

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A 19th-century engraving of an architect at a large upright drawing board


drawing board (plural drawing boards)

  1. A plane surface or table to which paper can be fastened for drawing purposes.
    • 1815, Peter Fleming, “Land Surveying. [Of Measuring Lands with the Chain only and Planning therefrom.]”, in A System of Land Surveying and Levelling; wherein is Demonstrated the Theory, with Numerous Practical Examples, as Applied to All Operations, either Relative to the Land Surveyor, or Civil and Military Engineer, Glasgow: Printed by R. Chapman; and sold by Brash & Reid [et al.], OCLC 551622098, page 86:
      The T square, used by architects, makes very good parallels, if made to slide along the smooth edge of a drawing board, or a straightedge laid and kept steady on the paper.
    • 1859, Thomas Lund, “Prop[osition] XXXIII. To Explain the T Square, and the Drawing-board.”, in Elements of Geometry and Mensuration, with Easy Exercises, Designed for Schools and Adult Classes. In Three Parts, part II (Geometry as an Art), London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, OCLC 230693645, paragraph 130, page 115:
      The Drawing-Board is a smooth board, [] very accurately rectangular, with its edges quite smooth. Upon this board drawing-paper is usually fixed, and evenly stretched, by means of glue or paste applied to a small strip of paper all round, which it is not intended to retain in the drawing.
    • 2013, Floyd Norman, “The Other Floyd: Mr. [Floyd] Gottfredson and His Famous Mouse”, in Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks and Stories from a Disney Legend (Animation Masters), Burlington, Mass.; Abingdon, Oxon.: Focal Press, →ISBN, page 98:
      As we explored the second floor of the building, we were pleasantly surprised to find a group of artists working away at their drawing boards. Without knowing it, we had stumbled into Walt Disney's Comic Strip department.
    • 2020 August 26, Tim Dunn, “Great railway bores of our time!”, in Rail, page 44:
      So much of what followed from the drawing boards of others will have been designed with the demands, effort and grandeur of Primrose Hill [tunnel] in the back of their minds.
  2. (figurative) The planning stage of a project.
    We'll need to go back to the drawing board to figure out where the project went wrong.
    • 1958, The Engineer, volume 205, page 920:
      For such cases the only thing is to go back to the drawing board and do it better; and it is here that the highest qualities of vision and human leadership are needed.
    • 1999, Mark L. Thompson, “Monday, October 28: Lake Michigan, Upbound”, in A Sailor’s Logbook: A Season Aboard Great Lakes Freighters (Great Lakes Books), Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, →ISBN, page 282:
      If we head for lay up tomorrow, those plans are right down the toilet and it's back to the drawing board.
    • 1999, Muhammad Yunus, “Opinion: Must There be Poverty?”, in Carolyn Dedolph, editor, Rice: Hunger or Hope?: IRRI 1998–1999, Makati City, Philippines: International Rice Research Institute, →ISBN, page 2:
      Poverty is created by institutions, concepts, and policies. We need to go back to the drawing board to redesign these and remove the barriers.
    • 2014, Shalendra D. Sharma, “G-20 World: Limits to Economic Cooperation in the Post-crisis Era”, in Global Financial Contagion: Building a Resilient World Economy after the Subprime Crisis, New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 295:
      Following every economic crisis, political leaders, finance ministers, central bank governors, policy makers, academics and other interested parties hurry back to their drawing boards to rethink and redraw the rules or "architecture" governing both the national and international economic order.
    • 2015, Walter L. Wallace; Yusen Xia, “Reshoring: Revolution or Evolution”, in Delivering Customer Value through Procurement and Strategic Sourcing: A Professional Guide to Creating a Sustainable Supply Network (Financial Times Operations Management Series), Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, →ISBN, page 292:
      Localization makes use of a process known as postponement, which refers to the method by which the commitment of a product to its final form or destination is delayed. When decisions on the final product configuration are made ahead of market demand, there is the risk that the products that are in finished goods are not what the customer demands. The philosophy of postponement ideally begins on the drawing board when the products are designed with late configuration in mind.


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