Shop Talk Podcast Episode 14: Bob Clagett of I Like to Make Stuff on the Game-Changing Power of CAD

Muna Idriss Muna Idriss May 3, 2024

3 min read

Welcome to this episode of Shop Talk, a podcast from the team at Autodesk Fusion where we catch up with designers and makers live from their workshops. Whether you’re a Fusion fan curious about what our users are doing or simply looking for something to listen to in your own shop, we’re bringing you candid conversations with talented designers who pour their hearts and souls into their craft.

In this episode, designer and Autodesker Jonathan Odom speaks with Bob Clagett, of I Like to Make Stuff. Whether it’s music, websites, software, furniture, vintage scooters, or motorcycles—Bob Clagett likes to make it. A software developer by trade, he left his job in 2015 to focus full-time on his now-iconic YouTube channel  @Iliketomakestuff. On his channel, you can see Bob spin up projects that run the gamut from woodworking, metalworking, and electronics to 3D printing, prop making and more. His goal is to inspire and educate others that if you want something… make it!

Below is a short excerpt from the conversation to give you a taste of what to expect. You can also listen to the full episode below:

So, Bob, you started making things by hand before you got into CAD. What was the turning point where you realized that computer-aided design is something accessible that you want to try using?

Well, I was into computers early. I studied graphic design and I went into a Graphic Design 101 class. I remember, on the first day, the professor said, “I want everybody to know, we’re not using computers in this class.” And I was like, “I’m out.” Just nope. That’s not what I wanted. I knew I couldn’t do it well by hand. That’s not me being hard on myself. I just know what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I want the computer to help me do this design better. I totally understand why he didn’t want us to use computers, but at the time, that wasn’t where I wanted to go. So, I switched majors to computer art right away. We had to learn 2D animation, 3D modeling, graphic design, print layout, sound design, film, all these different computer-centric things. And through those years in school, I realized how much those tools could enhance what I was capable of with a camera or paper and pencil. So, when I started building furniture in my apartment, the only thing I knew was Autodesk Softimage. I can design a 2×4 table in Softimage, which is the wrong tool for the job. Why on earth would anybody use that tool for a table or a chair? Yeah, let me use this Lamborghini to drive my trash down to the driveway.

As I went on and started doing this more regularly, I used SketchUp. The first thing I really designed was the first arcade cabinet that I built. It was the most complex thing I had ever modeled in SketchUp. I got to the end of it: it had storage on the inside, a bunch of pieces, this thing is going to weigh a ton. At least, I should make this whole thing out of half-inch MDF instead of three-quarter-inch MDF. Then I looked at the model, and I was like, “Oh, no, I can’t do this. I have to start over.” I’m weighing the price of a three-quarter-inch MDF or the time of starting over. I decided to pay more and make it heavy. But I remember that experience very specifically, because that was when I knew this tool was not going to help me anymore.

Fast-forward to a few years later, a guy named Taylor from the Fusion team cornered me at Maker Faire one time and he was like, “You don’t know me, but you should use Fusion and I will walk you through it.” I’m like, “Sure. It’s another thing to learn. Okay, whatever.” So we get on a video call and he starts showing me the parametric stuff and I’m like, “Oh, this is it.” I got so excited. That was a breakthrough. That really changed how I used CAD going forward.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Shop Talk. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, catch up on any episodes you missed, and get your audio-only fix on Spotify.

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