I started playing with CAD (Computer Aided Design) before I was an editor. I think it was an extension of doodling in my schoolbooks. The programs keep getting better and easier to operate, with an exponential increase in capabilities each generation. What’s not to like? Well, the expense can get a little steep …¦ so I decided it was time to check out Google SketchUp. Free 3-D CAD software? Cool!
I downloaded the program a number of months ago, but hadn’t really been able to spend any time getting used to the system. It came time recently to design a new kitchen table for the family and I was happy it would give me a chance to get comfortable with SketchUp.
I didn’t get too far into the design when I ran into a problem. Creating the individual shapes was extremely easy. But every time I tried to move a piece I’d created, it became an Escher vista. I was missing something important. Then I remembered Drafting and Design for Woodworkers (a book I helped edit not too long ago, and good buy at $29.99). I knew author Bob Lang had walked his audience through the SketchUp program, and I figured he’d have the answer right in the book on my shelf, 10′ away.
And there it was on the illustration on page 81. My Escher leg was on the page. In two-minutes of reading I found the reference to the “Grouping” function , that was the elusive command. Excellent, the table drawing could continue.
I do like having my woodworking reference library handy. The Internet is great for finding a lot of information, but my books are more a comfortable reminder that I already had the answer. I just need to prod my own memory. Thanks, Bob!
David Thiel, Popular Woodworking Books Editor