Has computer software been running your drafting classroom operations? Are you wanting some hands-on drafting supplies to make your curriculum more robust but don’t know where to find them or what is most popular among educators?

If so, Hearlihy has homed in on its top sellers for you to add in hands-on applications!

You might know Hearlihy for drafting supplies and consumables, but Hearlihy has kits for purchase as well. Our customers favor the Two-Story Townhouse Kit, True Scale House Framing Kit, Ortho-Box™, and Beginner’s Drafting Kit, which enable students to make real-world connections. Visit to learn more about our new ARCKIT Architecture Kits and 3-D printing options for some 3-D building excitement. T squares, tri-scales, pencil sets, and student compasses rate high for our customers and are important drafting supplies to have for your hands-on projects, especially in the world of construction. Hearlihy has a robust selection of supplies and consumables for your needs. Visit to request a Hearlihy catalog by mail or download a PDF.

Posted on December 7th 2016 @ 10:00 am by

Framing critical thinking and practical skills


Sometimes, we forget how much we know. The way our education system works, we build upon our knowledge from year to year and increase our skills and abilities as we grow. Those basic counting skills from kindergarten help us learn addition and subtraction. Then we move on to multiplication and division. From there, we enter the realm of fractions and decimals and even . . . unit conversions!

One of the rewards of teaching is seeing the light come on for students. It’s exciting to see students recognize that one skill can create a new related skill. When they recognize how much they know, it increases their confidence in other areas. All that knowledge and skill development needs to be reinforced with application. There are many ways to do this.

Framing kits are a way to synthesize a lot of knowledge into a practical application. In other words, framing kits can help students recognize how much they know.

My son has an amazing gifted teacher, Mr. Bradley Johnson, who knows how to turn knowledge into application. Last year, my son was struggling with math being relevant, so Mr. Johnson challenged him to put his drawing skills and interests to use.

HouseFramingKit_350px_1116The assignment was to build a model house. The process included making a scaled drawing, working out unit conversions, and building the model. Math became very relevant, but something else happened too. Watching my son wrestle with how to take his drawing and make a model was like watching a movie about critical thinking. His critical thinking improved significantly the further into the project he got.

In the end, he opted to use dimensioned lumber to make his final model. When the project was completed, I asked him why he didn’t use a framing kit. “You mean there was a kit?” was the reply.

Framing kits, at the most basic level, are dimensioned lumber with instructions. At a different level, framing kits are a way to synthesize a lot of knowledge into a practical application. In other words, framing kits can help students recognize how much they know. Not only do students practice creating an architectural model, they apply practical math, blueprint reading, construction, instruction following, vocabulary building, and critical-thinking skills.

Students who’ve created blueprints or drawings, like my son, can use dimensioned lumber to construct a model for demonstrations.

If the student hasn’t created a drawing, a kit with all the materials required to construct a frame might be more useful. Students will measure, mark, and cut the dimensioned lumber to the proper length and angle. Then the fun challenge of assembly can begin.

Framing kits can be general, such as the Hearlihy Wood Framing Kit or specific like the A-frame Cabin Kit 101. No matter which kit you pick, the intrinsic reward of building something and seeing the finished product can’t be replaced.

Remind your students of what they know. Explore adding framing kits, model houses, or dimensioned lumber to an activity in your lesson plans. It might spark some creative thinking and frame some practical skills.

Related products from Hearlihy:

Posted on November 22nd 2016 @ 8:16 pm by

Meet the Hearlihy team

Ever wonder how teachers always have their hands on the latest drafting, architecture, and 3-D printing equipment and supplies?

Their top secret resource is the Hearlihy team!

Staci Goodson, Alan Kirby, and Jake Simmons are here to meet teachers’ needs when it comes to deciding the best products for their classroom from Hearlihy and its sister company Pitsco. The trio can often be found at trade shows, robotics competitions, or on our campus programming their latest TETRIX® robot to fetch snacks!

StaciGoodson_1116Staci has been an education consultant with us since 2014 and serves the western US, including Hawaii and Alaska. She loves working with her customers and the rest of the Pitsco family in Pittsburg, KS. Her favorite Hearlihy product is the Ortho-Box™. Read more about the Ortho-Box™ in Staci’s blog post, and learn more about Staci at or email her at


AlanKirbey_1116In the last four years, Alan has become a jack of all trades for Hearlihy, Pitsco, and TETRIX. He serves the central and southern US. In his spare time he likes to throw pottery, and you can find many of his pieces in the offices around the Pitsco campus. When asked what single item Alan would want with him on a stranded island, he responded with, “A fishing pole.” If only he could have Mr. Robot there to fish for him . . . Learn more about Alan at or email him at


JakeSimmons_1116Jake is the most recent addition to the Hearlihy team, having joined Pitsco in 2015. Jake serves the northeast US and Canada, where CO2 dragsters are currently in high demand. He enjoys working with his customers and loves it when he receives pictures from teachers and students using our products. Learn more about Jake at or email him at

Posted on November 16th 2016 @ 10:00 am by

Get some new views on Hearlihy


Have you visited the Drafting 101 section on Hearlihy’s website recently? If not, you might have missed that video content is now there.

Ray Grissom and Alan Kirby discuss 3-D printing troubleshooting.

Ray Grissom and Alan Kirby discuss 3-D printing troubleshooting.

First, we’ve added a video focused on 3-D printing troubleshooting tips. We filmed our own Alan Kirby and Ray Grissom, both highly experienced with 3-D printing, and they discussed some of the history of 3-D printing and then dove into the key problems that can affect your printer’s ability to work properly, including the following:

  • Calibration
  • Clogging
  • First layer not sticking to base
  • Warping
  • The difference between open and enclosed printers

Second, we’ve added a couple videos with Merrick Russell, teacher and developer of the 3-D Perspective Drawing Boards that Hearlihy offers. In the first video, he explains the advantage of using the boards and how they make perspective drawing – traditionally a more difficult skill – accessible to different levels of drafters.

HCO video post imageCommunicating ideas is the key function of technical drawing and drafting, according to Russell, and these drawing boards help students express their ideas quicker, whether they are in a drafting class, construction class, or whatever creative class uses perspective drawing. Merrick says the tool enables students to realize that they can design and create things that they have in their minds.

“They can actually draw those ideas and start to explain themselves graphically,” Merrick said. “I like to think of the product as more than just a drawing board or another drafting product. It’s a creativity tool – and that kind of makes all the difference.”

In the second video, he shows the ease of creating drawings using the boards. Visit the Drafting 101 section to take a look at these videos and other resources.

Posted on November 11th 2016 @ 3:49 pm by

Plan ahead for Cyber Monday!


There are many deals on Cyber Mondays that educators can take advantage of, but there can be a layer of complication, which usually takes time to sort out ahead of time. Do you go through an approval process before ordering? Does a PO need to be referenced? Taking these complications into account, Hearlihy is announcing our Cyber Monday deals now, so you have time to make plans!

This year, we’re offering a tiered discount, so the more you buy, the more you save! On November 28, 2016, you can use promo code SAVEBIG to get $10 off orders of $75+, $25 off orders of $150+, or $60 off orders of $300+, which is applied toward the subtotal during checkout. So, put a reminder on your calendar, set your phone alarm, and visit on Cyber Monday to order and get your savings.

Our Cyber Monday offers include:

If you’re with a school district and haven’t ordered online before, Hearlihy does accept purchase orders on our websites. This offer is valid only from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. CST on November 28, 2016. Only one promo code can be used per order, and this offer is not valid with any other discounts or special offers. If you have any issues ordering online, contact our call center at 800-835-0686.

Note: Pitsco, Inc., including Hearlihy, will be in the process of taking physical inventory during this time, so there might be up to a week delay in shipping.

If you’d like to get an email reminder closer to Cyber Monday, sign up at to receive it and the monthly Hearlihy e-Newsletter. Please comment with any questions or email us at

Posted on August 23rd 2016 @ 3:11 pm by

Designing tips for screen printing

Silk screen printing screens stored in a wooden rack ready for p

Screen printing isn’t limited to only T-shirts. Clothing items are the most obvious choice, but the process works well for tote or lunch bags, mousepads, vinyl binders, clock faces, decals, balloons, tiles, flags, and signs too. Some of these items require different types of inks, preparation, and drying techniques, but the same basic design considerations have to be used.

Unlike printers that can lay down several colors in a precise dot sequence to create full-color images, screen printing is a stencil method that uses one screen per color and lays down one color at a time, usually starting with the lightest color to allow for overlapping.

The first thing to consider when you start a screen printing project is what colors of ink you plan to use. It’s helpful to plan the color of the substrate at the same time.

By mocking up these combinations on-screen, you’ll be able to make sure you have your desired contrast and the colors work well together. Keep in mind that if one of the design’s colors is the same as your T-shirt, you can use it as negative space and save on an ink color.

ScreenPrinting3_0816After the colors are chosen, then add all of them to the color swatches panel in the software you’re using to design your image. These can be either RGB or Pantone (PMS) colors. Keep in mind that PMS colors can vary from screen to screen, so rely on your printed Pantone guide for the expected outcome on your substrate and be sure to use the Solid Coated Formula Guide. If using RGB, you’re relying on the your screen colors to choose the closest available PMS color based on what you see. This can be affected by the brand of the screen, the computer display setting, and ambient lighting.

A vector format, such as EPS or AI, that uses math instead of pixels to draw shapes, lines, and curves is preferred when designing for screen printing. Illustrator is a favorite software of designers and allows for resizing without sacrificing quality. A vector format is generally also smaller in file size and isn’t flattened, so it’s highly editable.

When you’re ready to work on your design, change the background color to match your substrate and create a separate layer for each color. This will enable you to turn the colors on and off, which gives you a visual of how each ink color works individually.

If you’re working with text, I recommend that you leave the working text box on the pasteboard. Then, copy and paste it on to your artboard and create outlines. If you’re sharing your file with anyone, this eliminates the need to worry about fonts. You never know where you’ll end up with a design, and sometimes it’s necessary to start over with an element. Trying to remember what font you used and any other formatting you started with can be time consuming and frustrating.

Another consideration is the size of the lines in your design, and it strongly relies on the size of mesh being used to screen print. Generally, a 0.5pt line is too small, and 1pt still might not be big enough. If you don’t know the size of mesh being worked with, then, to be safe, you might need to use 2pt lines. Also, if you’re using your design for several types of printing, be aware of how resizing is affecting your lines and what your preference setting are. There is a Scale Strokes & Effects option in Illustrator under General.

Don’t forget that just by creating a design in Illustrator, you’re not guaranteeing a vector image. To do so, you must save using the proper file format. Vector formats include AI, EPS, and PDF.

These are just a few tips to get you started designing for screen printing. No two screen printing setups are identical, so be sure to understand the resources you have available and what limitations they have before you start designing.

Posted on August 5th 2016 @ 2:23 pm by

Stuffed spaces – classroom storage ideas

Classrooms seem to constantly need more storage. Whether it’s finding space to store pop bottles for AP rockets, wood blocks for CO2 cars, or screens and ink for screen printing, you often have to be creative and take advantage of the smallest spaces. Schools like to use what they have and make things fit when they can.

To take an existing old or generic product, and making my own modifications to meet my classroom needs was common during my teaching days. Don’t get me wrong – I had adequate scope and breadth for what I was teaching, but using a flat filing storage cabinet to store light-sensitive offset plates made me nervous on more than one occasion. This method for storage worked as long as students followed the procedures they were taught, however occasionally a drawer would be left open and light-sensitive materials would become damaged.

Later in my career, when I began teaching drafting, I appreciated having the flat file storage to better manage student projects, and the use was more in line for its design. Although teachers are known for their creativity, getting boxes from the schools’ food service or copy room is practical for only so long, and those resources can become limited depending on the number of other staff looking for alternate storage. So what is a teacher to do?

First, purge.

I was a teacher who kept everything that could possibly have a use. Looking back, that might not have been the best use of my space or time. I had boxes of curriculum that went back more than a decade and were used by several teachers prior to me. Was they ever going to be used again? The short answer was no, but then I might have that one student whom I could use it to connect with.

Teaching Graphic Arts and using a large-format printer, I needed a way to keep track of different types of roll paper, and I found a wire bin roll file useful for keeping things in order. In the end, I had all the resources in current material to meet my students’ needs, especially with the changes in technology happening as rapidly as they do.

Look at what you’re going to need for storage in the next year to hold the supplies for planned activities. Plan ahead and be sure to leave space for those activities you will hear about for the first time in the coming months. Then plan for about ten percent more if you can.

You’ll also need to plan for any records you might need to keep on students based on your school and state needs. Vocational and Technology teachers in my state, while I was teaching, needed to keep grade documentation and competency profiles for several years past a student’s graduation date. That takes storage space.

Filing cabinets are a great resource, and come in more than the standard two, four, or five drawer vertical file. Consider a lateral file for similar storage in a more convenient place to access space and make an attractive addition to your classroom. Another option for keeping student supplies is to use a storage cart for the current project or for individual student temporary storage. These come in three-, six-, 10-, or 15-drawer configurations to meet your specific application.

If money is a problem (and in the school setting, where isn’t it!) there are usually students in the wood shop or cabinet making program that need a project to do. This might be ideal from a space perspective, as you can design and have the space custom built to your needs. The downfall is you might be waiting for a student to have time to do the project, or you might need to finish it yourself if the school year is over before the project is complete.

Storage is a never-ending problem. Ultimately, you’ll need to be creative where and how you manage your storage space.

Posted on July 28th 2016 @ 8:17 pm by

Simplifying 3-D to 2-D with the Ortho-Box™


Visualization takes practice. Being able to picture all the angles of an object without it right in front of you is no easy task. Luckily, Hearlihy has you covered with the Ortho-Box™.

An orthographic view is a representation of a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. This is what the name for the Ortho-Box originates from.

The Ortho-Box is a simple way for students to improve their spatial reasoning and 3-D picturing skills. To use the Ortho-Box, place an object inside and use overhead projector markers to draw what you see on the clear, acrylic sides of the box from the front, top, and right. You can use the included wooden shapes as your object or any other object you happen to have. After finishing the drawing, open the box and look at the top and side panels to see an orthographic view of the object inside.

The Ortho-Box gives students a hands-on approach to grasp the basics of an object in the physical world before moving on to the digital world. Doing a few drawings of different objects provides students a solid foundation leading into the next step of using 3-D computerized projection. The Ortho-Box is a hands-on project that all drafting and engineering students can benefit from.

Posted on July 21st 2016 @ 10:00 am by

Metalwork steels skills


Metalworking3_0716There are a lot of processes that lend themselves easily to a classroom. Some processes require specific equipment to perform tasks. Other processes take very little tooling to do the work.

Traditionally, metalworking is a field that requires specific equipment, but there might be a way to incorporate some small-scale metalworking processes into your classroom, even if you have limited tools to work with.

Shops that have the metalworking tools in them today might include a punch/shear machine, a rivet/bend/roll machine, and scroll formers to do the basic operations. Others might have English wheels and planishing hammers for smoothing and forming sheet metal into shapes other than bends and seams.

Basic operations that students need to know to be Metalworking2_0716successful in metalworking include riveting, bending, rolling, punching, shearing, scrolling, and twisting. Metal can also be formed through casting, heat treating, or forming. Seldom does the raw material take final form after one process. Even a simple hammer, as it’s manufactured, goes through several dies as it’s drop forged, trimmed, given the final finish, and then receives the handle.

A hip roof toolbox has been the project of many industrial arts students over the years, and with good reason. The student uses their knowledge of measuring distance and angles to create a three-dimensional object from a flat sheet of metal. The base is a rectangular cube that includes folding, bending, seaming, and riveting the sides together with the bottom with mostly 90-degree angles. The top of the toolbox teaches students how to cut, bend, fold, seam, and rivet with varying angles. Attaching handles and a top put the finishing touches on some projects; others include building a tray of either sheet metal or wood to make the toolbox more versatile.

As you plan your classroom for next year, consider how the addition of some small metalworking tools can teach processes and increase the skills that your students will take with them.

It takes a little ingenuity, knowledge of the processes, and understanding of your materials’ characteristics to make really great projects.

The more exposure a student has to a variety of skills, the more options they have in their future. A metalworking project might just spark that one student into a career that they might not have considered otherwise.

Related links:
Metal Toolbox Kit
Practical Workshop Version 2

Hearlihy’s website has had a facelift this year.

When visiting the site, most viewers will notice a rotating image at the top of the home page, which is about three key topics for Hearlihy visitors: drafting, 3-D printing, and printing technology.

When each image is selected, it opens a feature page on that topic that provides a short description, links to major product categories in the online store, and links to articles for most sections.

The biggest change, however, is the addition of the Drafting 101 section. This hosts past articles and new information together in one convenient place for those who need to learn more about drafting, architectural modeling, screen printing, and more.

New Drafting 101 section features helpful content

New Drafting 101 section features helpful content

Current articles include:

  • Why Teach Hand Drafting?
  • Drafting 101: The Basics
  • Create a Custom Drafting Kit
  • 3-D Visualization with Ortho-Box
  • Raise Funds with Printing Tech
  • Using the Mug Wrap

The smallest change appears to the right of the Store section tab: the Community tab has been renamed News, and it links to the Hearlihy In the News blog. Select this tab to find the latest information about drafting and classroom technologies, new Hearlihy products, discounts, and more.

However, we’re far from done.

Checking back over the next six to nine months is a good idea for those interested in more content – we plan to add more articles about 3-D printing and the process of screen printing. Videos are another medium we’re going to develop and add to the Drafting 101 section this year to help teachers and other Hearlihy customers learn how to better choose activities and use our products.

We didn’t want to completely overhaul the site and potentially confuse regular visitors, so it has no radical structure changes. The left product menu is still on the site, so returning visitors shouldn’t feel lost, but both new and returning visitors will easily find helpful information.

So browse the new and stay tuned for additional content in 2016.