Tag Teaming Google SketchUp

One of my goals for this year at Popular Woodworking magazine is to become sufficiently adept with a technical drawing program. We have to have simple, accurate line drawings of projects that are sent to artists who turn the plans into the works of art that you’ve come to rely on from the magazine.

Before joining Popular Woodworking I sometimes had plans on a scrap of wood in the shop only to transfer them to paper, or at least a file, prior to sending them to the editors. When necessary, I drew plans in Microsoft Publisher. They looked good to me, but they were “not to scale” (I had to add that phrase to my drawings).

Once inside the magazine publishing operation I discovered how nauseating my plans must have been. After the “not to scale” drawings are passed to the artists, it seems I spend a great deal of time on the phone trying to explain how the parts are assembled. Better plans , maybe even drawn to scale , would make this entire process less of a burden than it is.

A short time back Popular Woodworking Senior Editor Robert W. Lang introduced me to Google SketchUp. I’ve started to play with the free program and my drawings are coming along nicely. My current project (look for it in our December issue) should make at least one of our artists much happier , as well as shorten my phone time.

I was in the middle of working with SketchUp when Martin Sojka, the driving force behind LumberJocks, contacted me looking for Popular Woodworking to sponsor another contest like the Thorsen Project Challenge. After kicking the concept around with Editor Chris Schwarz, I approach Sojka with the idea.

That’s all you need to do with the founder of the LumberJocks. Sojka ran with the idea and just this week announced the newest contest (click here for details) , a contest in part sponsored by Popular Woodworking and the editors within. I say “in part” because Sojka also enlisted the team at Google to provide a free copy of SketchUp Pro (a $495 value) to be awarded randomly to one of the winners.

The Popular Woodworking magazine editors will judge the contest and along with that duty, each editor will provide a signed book or DVD as a prize for the top three entries , Bob Lang’s “The Complete Kitchen Cabinetmaker,” Megan Fitzpatrick’s “The Essential Pine Book,” Christopher Schwarz’s “Workbenches from Design & Theory to Construction & Use” (available late October 2007) and my “Fine Furniture for a Lifetime.” That’s four valuable resources of woodworking information awarded to each of the top three entries. In addition, LumberJocks will randomly select three entries to receive a coveted LumberJocks T-shirt.

There is no better time to join LumberJocks, if you haven’t already, and learn to draw with Google SketchUp. As the LumberJocks announcement states it’s “a powerful yet easy-to-learn 3D software tool that is currently being discussed in each woodworking forum or group”.

, Glen D. Huey