SketchUp: Worth Learning

15 Jun

Sketchup is a free drafting program from Google. They created it to be used to generate 3D buildings for their Google Maps feature. Woodworkers use it to make plans with.

Problem is, it has pretty steep learning curve. I gave it up twice. I know other guys that have tried it as well, and just gave up. I couldn’t blame them. However, I did go back to it, and forced myself to learn it, and a book called Google Sketchup for Dummies, by Aidan Chopra, helped out a lot. He also has YouTube videos too which are very helpful.

So why even bother using SU (Shorthand for Sketchup)? Why not just use paper and pencil, the old school way?

Well, obviously, there is a lot less erasing, lol. Besides that, I like the way I can play with pieces so easily in virtual space. I can concentrate on the look first, and the technical later. I can go into joints, and see how they’ll work; I can see if certain woods would go together nicely, or not, because I can give each piece a texture – make this piece oak, that piece cherry. I get exact measurements, whether it be degrees of an arc, or length of a piece. I can “explode” the drawing, like they do in magazines, so I can get a better idea visually of how everything goes together, and can even print out the pieces and their measurements for use in the shop. Also, you can print the pieces at 100% size, so you can use them as a template for a complex shape. I hear you can even make SU generate a cutting diagram on a virtual board!

In short, there is a LOT that SU can do for you, the woodworker, and you really should take the time to learn it, if you ever think you’re going to want to make up your own plans someday.

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in BlogNotes



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