There's no doubt in my
mind a lot of people look on CAD software as being a thing
only architects and engineers were meant to use.
Sadly, for those of you
who are woodworkers and think the same then you couldn't be
more wrong because you are cheating yourself by not using
this extremely versatile program to your advantage.
SketchUp is the absolute
best shop assistant I've ever had and it is easily the most
important tool in my entire shop.
I started using SketchUp
when version 4 came out and since then I've made it my task
to point folks into the light but it's clear to me the bulk
of them are scared as rabbits. Despite my Herculean
attempts to reassure them, they find it hard to believe just
anyone can easily produce a 3D model of a project along with
a very accurate cut list in just a short period of time.
In short, they look on
SketchUp as being difficult to learn. Well, that is
hardly the case.
Take this simple sorting
tray for example. Now, I don't know what caliber of a
draftsman you are, but if I were to sit down and draw this
out on paper and to have it look this nice, it would take me
at least 45 minutes to do it - using SketchUp I modeled it
in less than 5 minutes.
What if you wanted to take
someone's existing 2D drawing and model it in SU to give you
a better idea on how it can be improved or to see if all the
cuts were accurately placed?
Let's suppose your wife
begins nagging you to make a planter stand to fit in one of
the corners of your deck. If you're a typical
woodworker then the first thing you'd do is pick up is a
cocktail napkin and draw a crude representation of what you
think she wants. Then, with childish pride you show
your marvel of artistic ability to her and her wide-eyed
expression says, "I don't what THAT sitting on MY deck!"
What if you could show her something she could easily
visualize and instantly give her nod of approval?
Well, I suggest you jettison
all these what ifs and get down to some serious drawings.
Obviously, the first step is
to get the program; you can either get the free version or
the pro version. The latter will cost you $500.00.
Normal people...people like you in fact, will get along very
nicely with the free version.
If you take all the CAD
software that is floating around out there and organize them
according to their learning curves you'll find they range
from the peak of Mt. Everest way on down to sea level - it
is at sea level where you'll find the learning curve of
There are all sorts of
tutorials out there. SketchUp For Dummies is one in
book form that comes to mind but there are many other
avenues I feel are better suited to get on the fast track to
becoming a gallant knight with SketchUp.
So, without further ado, I
will point you to the best sites I've found on the Internet
where you can start using SketchUp and begin placing as much
trust in it as you do knowing the Sun will rise come the
sketchup a 3D Toolbox - Harwood Podcast
Network - These are by far the
best I've seen
Fine Woodworking - SketchUp Tutorials
Ruby Scripts are tools you
can use to swiftly perform a certain action within SketchUp.
Let's pretend you want to model a set of stairs or you want
to draw a mortise and tenon or maybe you want to draw a
cabinet door; with a ruby script these things are done for
you almost instantly.
Most all of the RS files
come with an instruction sheet. Read it, it'll tell
you what to do.
Already Drawn For You
Let's say your wife has
been nagging you to make a hall table for the past...ohh,
Let's further say you're
cognizant of the fact she's in a prime position to downgrade
the quality of your meals and that you've come to the
realization you'd be better off doing your own laundry.
So, why not keep things the way they are and impress her by
showing off your creative prowess and deceive her into
thinking you're a 3D modeling genius?
What if you could get a
model that is already drawn for you?
That's right, there is an
extensive library of models you can download directly into
your model or save them in your SketchUp library. What
a sweet deal for you! She thinks you're working on it
and is content on leaving you alone for another six-zillion
SketchUp 3D Warehouse
...just do a search at
that screen. To get an idea on what may be in store
for you there type in something silly...try ...ohh,
I'll be adding more
SketchUp stuff as I find it so keep checking back. Or,
ME with your question(s).