SketchUp at Woodworking in America - Popular Woodworking Magazine

SketchUp at Woodworking in America

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How You Can Help
The Woodworking in America: Furniture Design and Construction conference is just a few weeks away. We’re all looking forward to the conference and the opportunity to spend time with the presenters and our readers. In addition to the experts in many different furniture styles, we’re focusing our attention on SketchUp, an incredible tool for designing and understanding projects. I will be giving a presentation on using the program and we will have walk-in clinics where you can bring in your laptop (or use one of the computers we will have available) and receive one-on-one advice. There are a couple of ways you, the reader, can help us make a good thing even better.

I’ve been working with SketchUp and how to teach it to woodworkers for a few years now. My book, Drafting & Design for Woodworkers covers the program and I recently taught a class on SketchUp at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I want to make sure that we’re prepared to address the issues that you have. Leave a comment below, telling us what you’ve struggled with in learning the program. Do you find yourself lost in space? Do things distort when you try to move them? Would you like to get rid of that annoying guy in the corner and work in inches? If you let us know, we can be sure that the volunteers manning our walk-in clinic are prepared to help.

If you are adept at using SketchUp, there is also a way you can help, and possibly get free admission to the conference. We have a couple volunteer slots to fill for the walk-in SketchUp clinics. If you can work a couple of sessions showing attendees how to use the program, you can attend the conference events on us. We don’t have the budget for travel or other expenses, but we think it’s a good return for your time.

If you think you’re qualified (and available Aug 14-16, and can get to St. Charles. Ill.) send me an e-mail. Attach a SketchUp model you’ve made, and tell me a bit about your experience and we’ll see what develops.

–Robert W. Lang

Click Here for Woodworking in America Conference Information
Click Here to visit the Popular Woodworking SketchUp page

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Showing 3 comments
  • Tom O'Brien

    My first project with Sketchup involved making a model of the wall of our family room, which has some display niches in it. The niches are about 24 inches tall, 30 inches wide, and 20 inches deep, and we decided they were too big for our collection of smaller objects. I got my wife to walk around with a tape measure and give me exact dimensions, as I placed reference lines on the drawing. I then constructed the model of the wall, with enough detail to show what was going on. There are 12 niches, and the niches in the top row have arched tops. Next I drew a stepped display stand that would fit in the niche and allow us to display smaller objects on its steps. I made the stand into a component and put a copy in each of the top two rows of openings. With one of the Sketchup figures standing in front, I could give my wife a good idea of how it would look, and she gave the OK. Then it was time to start building. I made one stand and we tried it out. Turned out I needed two different sizes, because the arched openings were a lot taller than the others. Back to Sketchup to make another drawing, then into production. Once they were finished, I decided the steps were a bit plain, so I added a small moulding to the edge of each step and a couple of Shaker-style knobs to make them into faux drawers. I brushed on some white enamel to finish the project, and we’re very pleased with the result. The material was 3/4 inch MDF, and the joinery was done with biscuits. The only problem I had was applying the enamel in cold weather.

  • Chris Norman

    In order to learn how to use sketchup I recently did a sketchup design of the Roubo bench which I’m currently in the process of building. Sketchup really helps with visualizing any issues with the design and can help with determining material needs.

    A few things I had difficulties with with in sketchup:

    – Irregular shaped surfaces. It’s difficult sometimes to get sketchup to recognize the an object built out of individual lines and curves as a new surface that can be push/pulled. I would have like to make some compound curved surfaces but could not figure out how to do this.

    – Curves that meet straight lines to form a surface, it’s difficult to get a curve to meet a line at a tangent angle for a smooth transition.

    – Pushing holes through a surface. If holes are fairly small it can be difficult to get sketchup to realize that your are pushing a hole instead of pulling a solid out of the surface.

    – Repeating objects with the copy/move operation is easy, but I couldn’t figure out how to get sketchup to repeat an operation like the dogholes in my bench. I was able to repeat the circles for the dogholes on the top, then had to individually push each hole through the top.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the sketchup experience, and it really helped me find a few issues with the design before I began construction.

  • John Griffin-Wiesner

    I tried sketchup, and it didn’t go well for me.

    Places where I got stuck that stand out:
    – Making multiples of things (legs), turning them 90 degrees and getting them into the right location
    – Making any curved surface, especially curves based on ovals as opposed circles.

    I’ll see you at St. Charles.

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