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The great leap forward for me came when I switched my focus from the finished drawing to building the model. Three-dimensional modeling is far more direct, if you focus first on making a good model, then extract the two dimensional information you need from the model. This is the case with shop drawings, cutlists, and the adoption of SketchUp as a design and planning tool.
Then I grab the dimension tool from the toolbar and put in the dimensions I want to see when I’m selecting material and fabricating the parts.
For me, this is the ultimate reason for using SketchUp, it speeds up the process and gets me out to the shop sooner, armed with reliable information so I don’t have to stop building to revisit the planning. I used to use Autocad, then downloaded the free version of Sketchup, and then watched a few of Mr. Hi Robert… I have taken up woodworking as a hobby and have built a number of projects, several fairly complex.
I don’t think the shop is a safe environment for a computer, but sometimes it is worth the hike to check on something that I neglected to print. I do have the pro version, but prints like I am talking about can be done with the free version of SketchUp. The only upgrade to your 2009 post that I’d like to suggest is your selection of spray adhesive. Sketchup does has a learning curve, but with watching Bob Langs Sketchup videos it is greatly reduced. Bob, while I believe Sketchup is a great way to design projects, there is (at least for me) a steep learning curve. With a systematic approach to learning how to use the software it doesn’t take that long to learn, and the benefits are worth it.
Planning with SketchUp doesn’t keep me out of the shop, it makes the time I spend in the shop more productive and enjoyable. AutoCad is old, expensive and difficult but it works very well when you get used to it and it doesn’t need a new computer, it just goes a bit slower. Actually, AutoCAD is new, expensive & difficult to learn and requires an extremely powerful late model PC, unless you happen to have bought a copy a long time ago.
Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years.
Now you can download six free SketchUp drawings for projects published in Woodworking Magazine during the last four years. These files work with Google’s free drafting program, SketchUp, and allow you to take the projects apart, see the joinery and view the projects at any angle. These files were provided by draughtsman Louis Bois, who has been providing technical illustrations for Woodworking Magazine for the last couple issues.
Sliding-lid Box: Also from Issue 2, this box is a great lesson in how to build drawer boxes (with one table-saw set-up) and makes a great home for your chisels.
Dining Room Tray: From Issue 5, this project is a great lesson in learning to use cut nails (and a tanning bed) to build a nice cherry project. American Trestle Table: This cover project from Issue 6 has a special place in my heart because the prototype is my dining room table.
Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. The google files are done with great care and I look forward to using both the cad software and building the trestle table. Knowing a traditional way of doing something is certainly valuable, but it’s easy to get trapped in thinking that the traditional way is the only way, or the best way to achieve a goal. The biggest advantage of SketchUp (or any other CAD software) isn’t in making an initial plan. If you build furniture, there are a bunch of steps that have to take place, whether you like it or not. When I teach a class or talk to woodworkers about SketchUp, those two questions are almost always asked. In my post on making a template for through mortises, I used a full-sized paper pattern that I printed from a SketchUp model. Here is one of my favorite moves in SketchUp, exploding and redefining components to move geometry from one component to another. I recently received the following question from a reader, and as it is asked often it makes sense to post the answer here. My friends at SketchUp were kind enough to ask me to contribute a post about how I use the software in designing and planning woodworking projects.
Components Can Be Redefined SketchUp is a powerful tool for designing furniture and other woodworking projects.
Paste in Place is My Best Friend My primary goal when modeling a project in SketchUp is to get away from the computer as soon as I possibly can. The Power of Reusing Details Designing on the computer can be far more efficient than drawing with pencil and paper.
I just finished up a new set of plans and thought it would be nice to use it as another example of how I create plans from a SketchUp model. I imported these as images one at a time into SketchUp and used them as guides to draw the parts. If nothing else, importing these drawings into the SketchUp drawing obviated the need to switch between Reader and SketchUp. As I always do when I'm drawing, I made components of each part and copied them as needed to finish the table model. After I completed the table drawing, I made a series of layers with which I associated the various components. For the exploded view of the base assembly, I turned off the visibility of the unneeded components as shown above. I also wanted to include patterns for some of the parts so I copied those components away from the rest of the mode. The inset for the end of the drawer bottom support was made by importing a scene from the model and then using a circle to create a clipping mask in Layout. I finished up the pans by importing the cutlist made from the model and adding a few notes. To make it easier to layout and cut the curved parts, I made a second file with full size patterns.
As for importing a large number of scenes into LayOut in one go, I can think of only one way. For a new project, use the same scene names in SketchUp and when you send to LayOut, choose this template. This method won't work for my projects very well so I don't use it although I have experimented with it. Bertrand1 writes: Dave, tank you very much for the information about applying style in one scene as Croc asked; I was waiting for that one!! I have anothe question for you: Is there is a way to import multiple scenes to Layout in one shot? Croc writes: Hey Dave, from time to time I would like to use xray view to illustrate certain component features in my construction documents using scenes.
DaveRichards writes: Chuck, I imagine you're right that most wooworkers are using the free version of sketchUp and thus wouldn't have access to Layout.
As I mentioned under the image of the plan's front page, you could make image exports (File>Export>) and then import those images into a word processor such as MSWord and create the plan document there. Learn the art and science of designing furniture in SketchUp with Fine Woodworking's official blog.
I finally had a chance today to try out Google+ Hangouts, and I think I have found an exciting and effective way to share techniques for using SketchUp to design, plan and understand woodworking projects.
I’d like to take this for a test drive, so I will be hosting a Hangout this Saturday, June 23rd at noon Eastern Daylight time. There is a limit of 10 participants, so the first 9 e-mails I receive will get an invitation. Leave a comment below, with your suggestions, and send me an e-mail to get on the list for this first of what I hope will be many hangouts.
Bob – if you have access to the Hangouts on Air (which are being rolled out to everyone on G+, but not all at once) you can make the video stream to youtube.


I ENJOY WHAT I HAVE READ , I AM A RETIRED CARPENTER __SUPERINTENTEND HAVE SEEN A LOT OF NICE WORK. Stay tuned Charles, we worked some of the bugs out this morning, and I’ll be announcing another hangout soon. With SketchUp, the amateur or professional woodworker will be able to generate scaled 3-D models of projects and exercise all the details that range from dimensions, joinery, design features etc.
The design phase is the most difficult part of a woodworking project to evidently communicate on how it will look in after being completed. In building phase the woodworker can put in details in least possible time in the model for detailing all parts and making it ready for the shop containing information on the proper size and location of all the parts and all the joints. A woodworker can also utilize sketchup for setting up the router or shaper cutters for the joints quickly and easily in production shops. From a sketchup model a woodworker can get a full-size patterns, exploded & orthogonal views of every single piece, precise cutlists and printed drawings. By applying sketchup a woodworker will get the ability to produce various scenes with layers for dimensions in quickest possible time containing significant details by copying sections of the model and moving them into unfilled space. A woodworker can utilize sketchup to model joints, molding, doors and drawers for taking out information concerning every part in the project. The woodworker can render their sketchup model for presentation, development of cutlists and panel optimization, and printing dimensioned drawings along with details, sections and exploded views. The woodworkers can develop a entire piece of furniture with sketchup by shaping cabriole legs, back slats, stem-bent parts, scrolled aprons, tapered legs etc.
Fine-tune the window and model size to reduce the amount of white space in the region of the model. Put your scale in the Print Preview dialog box and uncheck both a€?Fit to pagea€? and a€?Apply model extentsa€? . There is good plugin for sketchup known as SketchStruct Ruby Sketchup Plugin Ver1.02 which can be very useful for woodworking project.
Wudword Board Maker plugin computerizes the formation of board components for designing woodworking projects in SketchUp. This plugin can easily and smoothly creates Mortise and Tenon joinery in your models by entirely automating their creation. The M&T plugin contains 3 parameters which set the Tenon Depth, Tenon offset (Tenon shoulders), and an extra depth for the Mortise to form excess glue.
In order to know the application of the plugin, go through the WWX M&T Tutorial page which also focus on the installation process.
WWX Dovetails plugin for Sketchup is compatible with the version 7 and 8 on windows,mac, and linux) for automating dovetail formation in models.
The plugin creates flat dovetail arrays, and also half blind and through dovetails for instant joinery. Boba€™s innovative book a€?Woodworkera€™s Guide to SketchUpa€?, is the ideal way for anyone to learn this program. Most of that is furniture design and making detailed drawings of furniture and cabinets for publication. Like my irate reader, I thought SketchUp looked too cartoony, and that the interface had been simplified to the point that I couldn’t do serious and accurate work. Two dimensional CAD is essentially an efficient version of conventional drafting-it is an interpretation and representation of a physical object.
You don’t spend time mentally translating because the language of SketchUp is closer to the language of building-this goes here, that goes there and this other piece goes in between.
By day, he maintains critical life support equipment in the Anesthesia Department at the Mayo Clinic. If you know something has worked well for other woodworkers for a few hundreds years, you can likely assume that adopting it will be a good way to accomplish what you want to do.
I did make some prints from the model to use as a reference in the shop, but what I find useful when building doesn’t look like a traditional drawing.
In addition to an easy to use cutlist, I also generated full size patterns for the shape of the side pieces. You could input your existing board dimensions, the size of your saw kerf etc and actually replicate the production process.
I like using it not only to get a cutlist and overall board feet measurements, but it points out mistakes.
It’s a lot like learning a language, if you just poke around randomly it takes forever to get the hang of it. I catch things while working in SketchUp that have a significant cost in either wasted time or wasted materials if I just head to the shop. I can concentrate on the enjoyable parts of building without worrying about whether or not things will fit because I’ve already made the project on the computer.
If you have lot of round holes the program will forget them in part or as a hole if the computer is too old or weak.
These files are great for understanding how a project goes together before you start building it.
Louis does these drawings as a free service to the readers, so please join me in thanking him for his hard work. Endless nights of homework have trashed the perfect film finish, but I like it even more now than they day I finished it.
In the design phase, you can quickly make objects, copy and compare variations, and see how things will look in three dimensions. The advantage isn’t so much in making the original drawing, that takes some time no matter how you do it. I discovered in this process that either the original drawings weren't drawn to scale or the drawing has been rescaled unevenly when it was copied at some point. This makes it easy to control the visibility of various components as needed for the scenes that would come next.
The components in this copy could then be moved away from each other for the exploded view without modifying the original model of the table.
I drew a grid to place in front of the components to give some guidance in laying out the parts for cutting.
You'll need to make image exports for each scene and remember to update them if you make changes in the model.
I find it isn't so bad to copy an existing scene and paste it on the next page before selecting the new scene to display. I used a found image of stained paper as a watermark image and added a sketchy line style over it.
You'll probably want to make additional layers for controlling the visibility of that text since you probably won't want to see the same text in all views. I maintain anesthesia and respiratory equipment for the largest medical facility in southeast Minnesota. BUT WHAT WE REALY NEED IS SOMEONE TO GO FORWARD A TEACH THESE YOUNG PEOPLE THE WRIGHT WAY AND I BELIVE YOU DO THAT .
I?ve just founded your blog, and i?ll love to participate in one…i?m a cabinet maker from Brazil, and i use sketchup 8 (free edition) to make my costumers projects for presentation as well to study the ways of construction. The experiments with Google Hangout had some technical glitches, I need to give it another try to see how it works. The sketchup is now considered as a most trusted tool for planning, designing, problem solving, decision making for woodworkers to accomplish any woodworking project to avoid problems & costly mistakes before getting to the shop. But now with sketchup a woodworker can generate a fully rotatable, fully detailed 3D image after the preliminary design phase and present it to the client by attaching through email. SketchUp permits for diverse views applying its Pages function and dimensions are added easily.
With sketchup a woodworker can illustrate a solitary door and dona€™t have to redraw it provided that the molding and panel profiles remain the intact.
The woodworkers can also add various textures, material and colour to every part of the model to facilitate the building process.
They can also amend models & subassemblies and save multifaceted parts to be applied in other models. They can also render turned drawer, knobs, table legs, chair stretchers, bowls and spindles.
It is still in the development stage and expect to become a fully integrated structural analysis program in the near future.


Last summer I co-wrote (with Glen Huey)  Furniture in the Southern Style and all of the illustrations came from SketchUp models.
When you learn mechanical drawing, you learn a language that allows you to communicate the details of a physical object.The problem is that any form of drawing, from a napkin-sketch to a set of CAD-generated blueprints, forces you to worry as much about what the drawing looks like as the physical properties of the object. Do that one time in SketchUp, and you don’t spend any time worrying about whether or not the plan, elevation and section agree.
But the traditional approach isn’t always the best method forever, and when a new technology comes along such as SketchUp woodworking software, it can make the shortcomings of a traditional approach blatantly apparent. After completing the model, I navigate to an empty area and drag parts of the model from the components window into the model space.
The elapsed time between these two screen shots is about two minutes, far less time than it would take me to write a cutlist the traditional way.
As a bonus, these patterns also gave me the exact location and size of the through mortises. Just like anything else, it takes a little practice to become proficient with it, but it is well worth it.
If you have a guide to explain how things work and what to practice, it isn’t bad at all. A hole in sketchup is not a circle but a series of lines thus using up memory and computing power. I’ve built this project about five times now for various family members and customers, and it is always well-received. One of the big advantages to this is the addition of video content, embedded in the pages of the book. The image showing the table with the top removed was done with the same style as the first but I zoomed back a ways and then cropped the image tightly.
There are some drawbacks to working that because you won't have a direct link to the SketchUp model so if you edit the model after starting to create the document, you'll need to re-export the affected images and replace the out of date images in the document. I’ll also answer questions and show how I go about designing and planning furniture and cabinets using SketchUp. I think there is a great potential to use this technology to share, teach and learn, so I’m hoping to hear your ideas for possible class formats and subject areas.
Once complete, you can either make the uploaded youtube video public, and viewable after the fact, or not. In the design stage the woodworker can instantly create objects, copy and evaluate variations and view in 3 dimensions.
With professional version of SketchUp, one will be able to apply LayOut for creating polished drawings. Build the door parts components, assembled door a component and revise unique copies by several size to fit according to his choice.
The current version is capable of analyzing only pin-jointed trusses with point loads applied at joints. Eventually I made the move to AutoCAD, and bit the bullet a couple of times when a new computer or new software release meant I had to shell out a bunch of money to replace software that met my needs and worked just fine. The format is similar to my first book Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, and my other books of measured drawings. Most of the problems I had were complications I tried to introduce based on my past experience. Shouting at SketchUp in AutoCAD language doesn’t do you any good, even if you shout really loud. The first image (at right) is the illustration as it appeared in print, and the second image (at left) is the cutlist published in the magazine. This is a simple piece with few parts, but I use the same approach with more complex projects. It is also far more useful because I can include additional information, such as the size and location of joints, and when I refer to it I don’t have to find a detail in the drawing then hunt it down in the cutlist. I have designed many virtual projects, including cabinets, tool stands, workbench, kitchen remodel, new workshop, barn, tractor shed, and many small shop projects. If you can print a full size plot, Pro must have a much more robust print algorithm than Free.
From what I can tell, this plan is now in the public domain since it offered from several reputable websites.
I zoomed in to fill the screen with the area I was interest in and copied it using Adobe Reader's Snapshot tool. One huge benefit to using Layout over other applications is that modifications in the SketchUp model can be updated in the plan very easily.
Although the document I made is much more detailed than the file they offer, I got everything from that one sheet. Future versions of SketchStruct will consist of stiff jointed frames with any loading conditions. I don’t use AutoCAD very often these days, so I moved back from the big boy version to LT, and I keep an old machine on life support for when I do need AutoCAD. All of the illustrations in the earlier books began life as CAD drawings, so the differences between AutoCAD and SketchUp have been on my mind lately. Best of all, you don’t need to visualize what the relationship between parts will look like in three dimensions, based on different orthographic views, you can spin the thing around and look at it from any angle or distance you want. As a reader, you expect to see this form and we’ve never really questioned whether or not this is what we should print. When the parts are in the model, I move and rotate them so that they are in the same neighborhood.
The other benefit is that if I have a carefully constructed model – I don’t need to do any calculating to arrive at sizes.
I totally agree with Bob that it does not cut into my shop time, but makes my time in the shop way more productive, and helps my goofy brain avoid costly mistakes with expense hardwood. A lot of us using Free have a terrible time just having it print on a single page, at any scale.
The last book was faster to produce, with more accurate results, and more options for what eventually appeared in print than the first one, thanks to SketchUp. I kept getting surprised when I found out that an operation I expected to take four or five steps to complete took one or two.
We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way, as have other publications for the last century or so. What I’m after is an arrangement where I can clearly see the size and shape of each part. All I need to do is click on the right points in the model with the dimension tool, and SketchUp lets me know what the real sizes are.
His work has been published in Fine Woodworking magazine, and Dave is considered by many as a foremost expert on using SketchUp for woodworking. But the reasons why these types of drawings were developed isn’t because they are the best way to communicate information, this tradition developed because this is a quick and easy way to create a technical drawing by hand and put it on the printed page. My current project, the kitchen remodel mentioned above, is using all new appliances, and it makes it very easy to find the best relationship in a 3D virtual environment that is very easy to create. It's 9 feet long and 42 inches deep and there's a single large, shallow drawer under the top. I can work at higher precision than is needed in woodworking and I can draw everything I need with it.Router BossTypically, I draw plans for projects so that other woodworkers can build them.
Some of these projects also involve some design work and collaboration with clients while other projects involve creating plans for existing pieces of furniture. I’ve also found SketchUp useful for making detailed drawings of machines for exploded views and instructional manuals.Have you worked on any projects that folks might have heard about?Woodworkers who are familiar with Fine Woodworking Magazine might recognize a number of the projects I’ve worked on because they are almost always tied to articles that run in the magazine. I was very pleased that I could quickly create a 3D perspective view of a real object with accurate dimensions.
I also use Microsoft Excel and Word to deal with CSV files that are created for cut lists generated by the Cut List plugin.



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