Since the recent upgrade to our website, we’ve been working away at improving the section of our site devoted to using Google SketchUp. It has been a big job, and the reason for that is the depth and breadth of what we have online-more than 200 SketchUp models that are available for free, and many pages of tips and techniques. Most of the models in our collection are of projects that have appeared in the pages of Popular Woodworking Magazine, and in Woodworking Magazine. The collection got so big that it became difficult to find one project amidst the herd. So we regrouped and reorganized the entire collection as well as the many blog posts about using SketchUp as the ultimate planning and design tool. Let’s start with where to find things and take a tour.
The upper navigation bar now includes a link to our SketchUp pages, so you can get there directly from anywhere on our site. In addition to that, we’ve included links in our article index entries that lead to SketchUp models of projects we’ve published. Here is what you’ll find on our new main SketchUp page. At the upper left is a link to all of our free resources for learning how to use SketchUp. You can view other reader’s questions, and ask your own. You can read about how to gather information from SketchUp models, and tips and techniques for making the most of this design tool. At the lower right is a link to our books and videos about using SketchUp in our store.
In between are links to our collection of absolutely free SketchUp models, divided into easy to browse groups. With so many models, it was getting difficult to find a specific model in our collection in Google SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse. Our models still live there, but this makes them much easier to find, and it makes it easier to find similar pieces. Scroll down to browse the entire group, and when you get to the bottom of the page, look for the “Next Page” link at the lower right corner. You can also use the Search function on our site to find projects, and if you click on the Category and Tag links in individual posts, you’ll see similar models.
Each project has its own post where you can preview the image in three dimensions. Left-click and hold down the mouse button and drag the cursor across the screen to spin it around. You can view the project from any side or from behind. The image below is static, but the actual project images are all three dimensional. There are also links with each model that will lead to the issue of the magazine that featured it, as well as other online resources for that project.The banner below the image that says “Google 3D Warehouse” will take you to the model, and you can download it either to your desktop or directly into SketchUp, providing of course that you have it installed on your computer.
You don’t need to know much about using SketchUp to make use of our free SketchUp models. In fact,downloading a model and playing around with it is a great way to get started. You can learn to use the navigation commands, and basic move tools with one of our project models. There is a blog post about using an existing model to learn navigation here. And if you want to build a project exactly as we did in the magazine, the SketchUp model contains all the information about all the parts. Take it apart and put it back together onscreen, and you’ll be ahead of the game when you get to the shop. If you want to adapt one of our models for your own use, you can start with our model and modify the parts. You can learn how to do that by reading this blog post about moving and stretching. These posts, and many more can be found on our SketchUp learning page.
As it is with all of our web pages, you can sign up for an RSS feed, and we’ll let you know when we’ve added something new. You can also interact with us through these posts. You can share your technique, or ask for a clarification. We also have a SketchUp Questions and Answers post where you can ask for help, or review what other readers have asked. In addition to all this free information, we have videos and books in our store that have helped thousands of woodworkers get up and running with SketchUp.
The Shop Class: SketchUp for Woodworkers videos are available either on disc, or as a download. Part One covers the basics of setting up SketchUp and making models. Part Two continues with more advanced techniques. The digital book Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp, by Robert W. Lang is a comprehensive reference that includes 184 pages of illustrated text, with 49 short video lessons embedded in the PDF. You can have the book open in one window on your computer and SketchUp in another so you can try out the techniques shown as you read. A video is included every few pages that reinforces the written text, and also serves as a great way to review a specific technique quickly. It’s extremely easy to search and find exactly what you’re looking for in Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp.
Let us know what you think of our new format by leaving a comment below, and let us know what you’d like to see added to our SketchUp pages.
I will also be teaching a 3-day workshop on using SketchUp this July at the Woodcraft store in Alpharetta, Georgia. Click Here for details and to sign up.