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I received an inquiry from someone asking if SketchUp could be used to design bandsaw boxes. I drew a simple little bandsaw box showing a process that seems to be straightforward and efficient. You might notice that I didn't draw the entry cut for the saw blade nor did I leave a saw kerf.
Once you've got the bandsaw box drawn to your satisfaction, you can create the needed views of it including an exploded view. If you do make an exploded view, you might find it wise to explode a copy of the model so you can leave yourself an assembled version.
It seems most woodworkers are using the free version of SketchUp so LayOut won't be an option. Inside the drawer component I have the drawer front and then, wrapped together, I have the 'drawer box inner' and the 'drawer back'. Learn the art and science of designing furniture in SketchUp with Fine Woodworking's official blog.
Last time I showed an exercise in making the most used joint in woodworking - the mortise & tenon.
The dovetail is the strongest joint for joining pieces together at right angles in their thickness, and is widely used for boxes, cabinet carcases, drawers, and similar box-like structures. The force applied by each type of clamp varies greatly depending on the strength of the operator.
To compare traditional bar and pipe clamps with newer designs and to see how the force they apply varies by user, Fine Woodworking rigged up a jig linked to a set of bathroom scales.
Once you've determined the right type of clamps to use, you need to determine the best way to distribute them.
JMeeley writes: jeepers, is it a table top, or am I framing my home with small scraps turned dimensional lumber?
Armed with the pressure data included in the article, I can do a clamp pressure test of my own with one or two of the clamp styles shown and calculate just how many clamps are needed for the glue-up based on my grip strengh. On the PC, it is likely that you'll have to move or close some toolbars temporarily for this process. Another method which works for those SketchUp users who have the PDF export option is to create scenes that show parts of the model and export those scenes into a PDF file. Next I select the first set of four registration marks (first and second vertical pairs) and then right click and choose Zoom Extents from the Context menu. If you have the pro version of SketchUp, send the file to LayOut and set up the scale of the scenes there to 1:1. The benefit of the the PDF export is that you can easily share this with others and they aren't required to have SketchUp on their computer.
The exploded view is made from a copy of the assembled model which is placed over to the right and behind the original. Before making the copy for the exploded view, I assigned the components to layers so I could individually control visibility. After the scenes were created and the file saved, I used the Cutlist extension to make a material list. In LayOut, it's a simple matter of inserting the model and setting viewports for the various scenes. With the direct connection between the SketchUp model and LayOut, any changes that might need to be made to the model are transmitted automatically to the views in the plan making the whole process of edits painless.
I am extremely proud of her work for this project, and was glad to help her by printing the label.
Please upgrade to a different browser or install Google Chrome Frame to better experience this site. Although I hadn't really thought about doing so, I realized that it would work well for this. I made components of each part of the box as I went and made frequent use of Edit>Copy and Edit>Paste in place.
Since each part is a component, it's a simple matter of dragging them away from each other with the Move tool. The first thing to do in SketchUp is create a scene using the correct Standard view with the camera set to Parallel Projection.


You could export the image and use something like Photoshop to resize the image to get it to the right size for printing. In the interest of keeping the model clean and easier to work with, we should really fix this up. This means that to get to the drawer box or the drawer back to edit one of them, I would need to open three "wrappers" while editing the drawer front would require only opening two wrappers. I maintain anesthesia and respiratory equipment for the largest medical facility in southeast Minnesota.
Indeed dovetails have become an attractive feature, and here is one style that would look good in many furniture examples.
FWW conducted a test using four different staff members; two Fine Woodworking editors, our female copy editor, and a brawny Fine Homebuilding editor. Bruce Hoadley illustrated that the amount of force applied by different types of woodworking clamp varies widely.
The magazine’s female copy editor represented one end of the strength scale, a brawny former builder at Fine Homebuilding represented the other, and a couple of Fine Woodworking editors fell in between. The effective glueline area is the same as for the pine (even though there are three boards to glue instead of two).
It was a good move to mention that the copy editor was female and the other participant was a "brawny ex-builder" for a grip strength comparator. While it's not entirely inconceivable, I doubt the female copy editor had lived such a physically demanding life and quite likely has nowhere near the griping (or otherwise) strength of the ex-builder. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.
If the pattern is for something long and narrow, I orient the pattern so its long dimension runs across the screen.
In the image above, note that I've also drawn in some registration marks to aid in aligning the printed template sheets. Notice that my registration marks aren't perfectly aligned on the sheets but they are mostly usable as is. Then I made it a component and copied it to make the array as shown in first several images.
To make the view of the box without its top, I simply unticked the visibility box for the "Top" layer. The materials list also gets inserted into the LayOut file as did the banner for North Carolina Woodworker. Often all you every see of a bandsaw box design is a 2D drawing which you can use as a pattern but it doesn't really tell you much about how the finished thing would look.
I also used Offset and, to drawn the inital curves, a plugin called Bezier.rb which you can download from here. If you have SketchUp Pro, you could send the scene to LayOut, set the scale to 1:1 and then export a PDF file with the drawing at the proper size. It only takes a few seconds to do but if you have any editing to do later, you'll find this time well spent. By simply exploding the component I called 'Drawer box', I now have the three parts of the drawer wrapped in a single common wrapper.
There are three main types - the through dovetail that shows on both outer surfaces, the lapped dovetail (or blind dovetail) that shows on one side but not the other, and the secret or hidden dovetail in which the dovetail is completely hidden.
He also found that the force of an individual clamp can differ by a factor of two depending on the strength of the operator. We have all experienced a 'joint' failure, and I fathom a guess that retrospect did not leave us wondering why. I don't think the average person (outside the industry) has any idea of the physical demands (and resulting muscle development) of a construction profession. I (builder for 27 yrs) have to open jars for my wife (school teacher) all the time, even though she has excellent overall strength for a woman her size. Set Camera to Parallel Projection and choose the Standard View that aligns with the face of the pattern. Set the Export Type to PDF and under Options make sure the box for Full Scale (1:1) is ticked. These urns are getting distributed to the state's veterans cemeteries and their first run of 50 was claimed almost immediately.


Most of the group are doing lock miters because they are easy to assemble once the joints are properly cut.
I did end up doing a bit of editing on the image including reversing it and making the white areas transparent before saving it as a PNG file and importing it into SketchUp. The plugin generates more information than I normally want to show in a materials list and it usually doesn't put the parts in the order I want them so a few moments in a spreadsheet program like MSExcel gives me the opportunity to make the desired changes. The rest of the text including dimensions as well as leader arrows and the dashed lines are all done in LayOut directly. There's another curve-drawing toolset called BZ Spline which offers a number of types of curves in addition to the classic Bezier. To create the saw kerf you could use Offset on the edges of the drawer front to draw a second curve a few 32nds in and then delete the outer curve of the drawer front. It would be easy enough to make the pattern run over several pages if needed and if you were creating the patterns for others, you could create an entire package for them with other views, instructions and whatever other content you want to include. The copy editor in our test consistently applied about 60% of the average clamp pressure, while the hand strength of the FHB editor was about 40% higher.
Because the glue faces are nearly flatsawn (see inset), the recommended pressure is 150 psi, requiring a total force of 2,475 lb. It is possible to squeeze this pattern onto 3 sheets if the registration marks ware rearranged a bit.
Select the next set of four registration marks (second and third vertical pairs) and add a scene. Since you have the Pro version, you might find it better to send the drawing to LayOut and make your template there. The top of the box is attached from the inside with pocket screws, while the bottom of the box is added last and is secured with flat head screws. The version shown here with the wood grain coloring was made by combining the seal image with the image of the woodgrain. Designing in 3D will let you get a better feel for how the whole thing will look from different angles. Or you could use a plugin called gk_Postscript_Plot by Geoff Kime to create Postscript files for the job. Notice that the registration marks will be consistently located in this method because you are directing how the pattern gets split up into sections. They asked if I would make a plan file they could share and once I had the dimensions, it was pretty quick work in SketchUp and LayOut. One of the members of the group is making wooden medallions for these boxes and printing them with his laser.
I did make the bottom unique when it came time to draw the recess for the bottom medallion.
You could copy the box and roate it 90° to get both a front and side view in the same scene but I prefer to make those views separately. It would also make it easy to sort out the order of cuts that you need to make along with the order of assembly. You could use the Arc tool as well but I think you'd find it difficult working with it to draw the nice flowing curves typical of bandsaw boxes. Even if you are edge-gluing several boards, you still need to measure only one glue surface because the clamping pressure is transmitted across the width of the boards. My understanding is that they hope to use the plan to encourage others to donate materials because they have requests for a many more urns than they have materials for. The medallion on the front is the seal for the vet's branch of the armed services and the one on the bottom shows that the urn was donated by the group. If the button between _ and X in the upper right corner shows two overlapping squares, click on it.
Since these urns are being buried, they are generally being made out of softwoods and softer hardwoods such as yellow poplar. You might have to go back and make small adjustments to the size of the drawing window to get the number of sheets to be right.



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