SketchUp is a great free program for planning your work. But there is a tremendous amount of value to it even if you never draw a line. Printing out full size patterns is but one example. We’ve assembled a collection of models on Google’s 3D Warehouse, and have the same collection categorized on our SketchUp Page. Anyone can download and use any of these models absolutely free. Here’s an example of how I made a pattern for an ogee bracket foot from one of the latest additions to our collection.
This is a blanket chest made by Glen Huey that graces the cover of our August 2009 issue (on its way to subscribers as I write this). After downloading the model, I went to the Window menu in SketchUp and opened the window named Components. I scrolled down the list until I found the foot I wanted, and dragged it into an empty space in the model window. Sometimes dragging your feet can be a good thing. Then I zoomed in until the foot filled the screen.
I wanted a dead on view from the front, and there are a couple of ways to get it. I added the Standard Views toolbar to my installation, so I simply clicked on the front facing little house. You can also get this view from the Camera menu in SketchUp under Standard Views/Front. Then I went back to the Camera menu and checked Parallel Projection instead of Perspective. Then I picked a style from the Styles window to make the model simply black lines with no background colors.
The next settings I needed are under the File Menu/Document Setup window. Uncheck Fit View to Page and type in the number 1 in both windows under Print Scale. My machine can be a little fussy on this, and I need to highlight both windows before I hit the OK button.
You might need to fiddle with the Print Setup and Printer settings on your computer. Different computers and printers do this a little differently, but the idea is you want the printer to print at 100% and not scale the image to fit the page. If you’re trying to print something that won’t fit a single page, SketchUp will tile the images on as many pages as it takes. I snapped in a dimension within the model to make checking the scale easier. With the full size pattern in hand I can stick the pattern to a piece of wood with some spray adhesive and start cutting.
This is an incredible time saver and a simple way to transfer outlines from the pages of our magazine to your hunk of wood. If you haven’t looked at SketchUp because you don’t do your own design work, I urge you to check it out. This is only one of the many things you can do in addition to drawing. If you have a favorite “after the drawing is done” task for SketchUp, share it by leaving a comment below.
, Robert W. Lang
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