The Top 50 Most Essential Architect Supplies

Architect Supplies

Architect Supplies

I thought I would put together an exhaustive list of the most essential architect supplies we use most often.

The architecture profession has changed dramatically over the past several decades. Transitioning from primarily hand-drawing to today in which everything is almost exclusively drawn using Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Management (BIM) software.

However, as things have changed many of the architect supplies have not. This list is in no particular order but includes drafting supplies, model making equipment, sketching instruments, drawing utensils and on site tools.

Here is my list of The Top 50 Most Essential Architect Supplies.


1. Architect's Scale

High-quality, black anodized aluminum scale. An essential tool for every architect.

2. Moleskine Classic Notebook

This reliable travel companion, perfect for sketches, thoughts and passing notes, has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners, acid free paper, a bookmark, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket

3. Metal Architect Swing Arm LED Desk Lamp

Modern design, redefined, architect desk lamp

4. Handheld Laser Distance Meter 

Perfect for accurately measuring rooms and building components.

5. Drawing Storage Tube

Keep your precious drawings safe and dry when taking to a meeting or storing.

6. Liner Pens

High quality pens for note taking or sketching.

7. Tracing Paper

High transparency permits several overlays while retaining legibility when sketching over drawings.

8. Self Healing Cutting Mat

The best mat for cutting and model making.

9. X-ACTO #2 Knife

The must have tool for model building.

X-ACTO #2 Knife With Safety Cap
Cell Distributors

10. LED Light Box

Make tracing much easier with this compact light box. 

11. Feet-inch-Fraction Calculator

A huge time saver for adding and subtracting fractional dimensions.

12. Adjustable Triangle

Draft any angle with this tool. 

13. Engineer's Scale

Not to be confused with the Architect's Scale, the Engineer's Scale uses base 10 divisions instead of fractional - depends on the drawing discipline. 

14. Easy Cutter

The perfect tool for cutting bass and balsa wood for model making.

15. Technical Mechanical Pencil

The go-to drafting pencil.

16. Rotary Action Lead Pointer

Keep your mechanical pencil on point with this sharpener.

17. Small Mitre Box Kit 

Perfect for cutting small scale wood pieces for your models.

18. 3M Super 77 Spray Glue

The best glue for attaching paper or card for presentation boards or models.

19. Gel Super Glue

The best, fastest-drying glue for making models.

20. Metal Rulers

Essential when cutting a straight line. Plastic or wood rulers can't stand up to a knife.

21. Mini L-Square 

Perfect for cutting small model components. 

22. Drafting Brush

Keep your drawings clean with this handy brush.

23. Electric Eraser

If you happen to make a mistake, this will make it as painless as possible to reverse.

24. 3D Printer

Take your model making skills to a whole new level. Create limitless forms and geometries.

FlashForge 3D Printers, New Model: Finder

25. Laser Cutter and Engraver 

Cut through up to 3mm wood or acrylic in any shape imaginable. 

26. Clear Ruler with Metal Edge

Great for model making. See what you are doing while cutting along a metal edge.

27. Cut Resistant Gloves

Save your fingers from a meeting with your Exacto knife when model making.

28. Architectural Graphic Standards

The must-have resource for every architect.

29. Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

I use these every day. A must-have for any architect or architecture student to avoid distractions at work or in studio.

30. iPad Pro

Sketch your ideas with the revolutionary stylus. 

31. 48" Metal Ruler

Keep your fingers safe when cutting large sheets of material.

Securcut 48.5 Inch Safety Ruler

32. 12" Paper Trimmer

Perfect for trimming small scale drawings. 

33. 43" Paper Trimmer

A huge time saver when trimming large scale drawings.

34. Measuring Tape

Essential tool for any architect verifying dimensions on site.

35. Drawing Set

Contains two bow compasses, a divider, an extension beam, ink bow attachments, and a slip handle for ruling pens.

36. French Curve Set

Get outside of the straight line box when drafting.

Alvin French Curve Set of 8 FC88
National Cellular

37. Circles Template 

Large and small circles drafting template.

38. Retractable Knife

Use for thicker model materials like foam board and cardboard.

39. Graph Paper

Not just for engineers, layout designs and sketches.

40. Drafting Board


Perhaps the most "architect" thing on this list. The must have tool for hand drafting.

42. Electric Foam Cutter

Great tool for cutting foam for quick massing models.

43. Drafting Dots

Keep your sketch paper in place with these drafting dots.

Pro Art Drafting Dots
Pro Art

44. Professional Drafting Dry Cleaning Pads

Use this to prevent smudging on your sketches or hand drawings.

Pro Art Drafting Pad
Pro Art

45. Stainless Steel Erasing Shield

Erase only what you want and keep the rest. 

46. Modeling Clay

You are only limited by your imagination with this model making material. 

47. Scale Figures

Give your models a human touch. Different scales available. 

48. Drafting Chair

Stay comfortable while drafting.

49. Architect Lamp

The classic architect lamp design.

50. Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is THE resource for architects creating or editing images.

I hope this list of the most essential architect supplies has been helpful. If I left one out that you think is important, let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in finding a new architecture job, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

Thanks for reading, see also my posts on:

Want a Great Architecture Job? Don't Send a Resume

25 Things To Consider When Choosing An Architecture Job Offer

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.

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