To CAD or Just Cut
By no stretch of the imagination could I call my self a machinist, I'm just a hobbyist. I primary have small hobby machines that have very small work envelopes.
As with any hobby, I find it fun to make parts. But for it to be fun those parts have to turn out good. To me this means reasonable surface finish, pretty close to dimension and perform the function they are intended to.
I think I've come to the conclusion that for me to be satisfied by the end result, I need to make up drawings first. Most of the time this will be 3D CAD model which I'll make shop drawings with at least the basic dimension. Even simple parts benefit greatly from this previsualization step. Perhaps it's that I'm making more complicated parts or I'm just not able to imagine all the pit falls that lay ahead.
After attempting to make what should have been a simple bracket to hold a new X-axis scale on the mill, I'm now starting over because I failed to realize that the bracket would block the gib screws and the holes to allow access I was planning were going to be so large the bracket would loose all hope of being ridged enough to work.
This additional step will add time to any project, but I really believe I'm going to be happier with the process and the result that will come of it. So I guess the lessen is, even if it's simple, at least draw the part out to level of precision scale to make sure your ideas are correct.