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Fine Woodworking Google Sketchup Guide for Woodworkers(2010)BBS .pdf



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Titolo: Fine Woodworking | Google SketchUp for Woodworkers
Autore: Timothy S. Killen

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SketchUp
Guide for
Woodworkers
Google

®

By Timothy S. Killen

Text © 2010 by Timothy S. Killen
Photography by Timothy S. Killen, © 2010 by The Taunton Press, Inc.
Drawings by Timothy S. Killen, © 2010 by The Taunton Press, Inc.
All rights reserved.

Lm

The Taunton Press, Inc., 63 South Main Street, P.O. Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506
e-mail: tp@taunton.com
Fine Woodworking® is a trademark of The Taunton Press, Inc., registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
The following manufacturers/names appearing in Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers are trademarks belonging to
their respective owners: Adobe®, Adobe Acrobat®, Brusso®, Dominy Tool Collection®, Google®, iPhoto®, Macintosh®,
Microsoft Windows®, Picasa® SketchUp®.

E ditor : David Heim
D esign & L ayout : Michael Amaditz
P roject M anager : Sarah Opdahl
C opy editor : Candace B. Levy
I ndexer : Cathy Goddard

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Killen, Timothy S.
Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers / Timothy S. Killen.
ISBN-13 978-1-60085-341-8
ISBN-10 1-60085-341-2

Contents
chapter one

chapter ten

Introduction..........................................................1

More Tools and Functions..................................66

chapter two

chapter eleven

How to Set Up SketchUp for Woodworking..........4
chapter three

How to Use Photographs
and Scanned Images.........................................74

The Modeling Environment and Toolbars..............7

chapter twelve

chapter four

Advanced Modeling Techniques.........................80

How to Use Basic SketchUp Tools......................11

chapter thirteen

Learn to Draw Precisely......................................18

Advanced Detail Modeling
Using the Intersect Command..........................102

chapter six

chapter fourteen

chapter five

How to Make, Move, Copy, Edit,
and Connect Components..................................24

How to Add Color and Texture
to Your Model...................................................122

chapter seven

chapter fifteen

Create Your First SketchUp Model.....................29
chapter eight

How to Design and Construct Joints...................36
chapter nine

How to Begin and Develop
a Piece of Furniture............................................44

How to Create an Effective
Package of Shop Drawings...............................127
chapter sixteen

Printing Full-Size Templates
and Other Scenes.............................................133
Index................................................................137

ch a pter one

Introduction

F

or years I’ve wanted to draw
my furniture plans in full-size
three-dimensional (3D) models. I
dreamed of “building” the furniture on the computer as if I were in the
shop, shaping each spindle, board, and
panel and assembling them into a finished product. Existing two-dimensional
(2D) computer-aided design (CAD) systems were okay, but they didn’t let me
view the project from any angle or check
its integrity as it developed. I wanted a
design program that gave me exploded
views of assemblies, perspective color
images, and the ability to ensure that
complex joints fit together properly.
Finally, I found what I wanted—Google
SketchUp. I’ve been using this program
since 2005 and will never go back to 2D
CAD, nor will I enter the shop without
first creating a piece in SketchUp.
SketchUp opens up drawing capabilities once available only to professional
designers and illustrators using esoteric,
expensive CAD systems. Now you can
create virtual furniture, using SketchUp
to create each piece of wood and hardware, complete with every joint detail.
You can view and check every aspect
of the furniture with SketchUp’s array
of viewing options, including easily created exploded and X-Ray views. With
SketchUp, you can design furniture full
of complex shapes and angles, such as a
Windsor chair or a Chippendale lowboy
with cabriole legs. Once you have all the

1

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

components detailed in the model, you
can use SketchUp to generate full-size
templates for the shop. That makes construction much simpler, faster, and more
accurate, with less reworking and fewer
delays to sort out discrepancies. You also
gain a better understanding of construction details, which pays off when you
tackle the real project in the shop.
SketchUp’s price is right—free. The
no-cost download has all the features
you need to produce the most complex
woodworking projects and comprehensive shop drawings. A Pro version,
priced at $495, includes capabilities and
features for importing and exporting files
to and from various CAD formats, adding information to models, and producing documents exported in the Adobe
PDF format.
Most of the books and tutorials I’ve
seen are designed to help architects,
landscape designers, and builders master
SketchUp. They aren’t always well suited
to woodworkers, who use SketchUp in
unique ways. That’s why I’ve created
this book for professional and hobbyist cabinetmakers, furniture-builders,
and designers as well as woodworking
teachers. My book will show you how
to do the following:
• Develop a complete piece of furniture from scratch or from photos or
images imported into SketchUp.
• Create shop drawings, documents,
and full-size templates.

Figure 1. An assembled view of a Philadelphia fan-back armchair. With SketchUp, even
complex pieces like the turned chair legs can be easily created, copied, rotated, and joined
to other components.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter one
In short, SketchUp allows you to
quickly and accurately make a detailed
model to generate the dimensional
views and full-size templates necessary
for basic shop construction.
There are limits to what I can do in
SketchUp, however. I learned this when I
developed the Maloof-style rocker shown
on page 3. I couldn’t possibly create a
beautifully sculptured chair in SketchUp,
but I didn’t need artistic sculpturing in
the model. What I gained from SketchUp
were sizes, angles, joint details, bandsawn
shapes, and full-size templates. The final
artful sculpturing so important to a Ma-

loof design would have to come from
studying photos or an actual piece.
I also bump into SketchUp’s limitations
on Windsor chairs. SketchUp shows the
complex assembly, with parts connected
at various angles, but it’s not easy for me to
render the final shaping and sculpting of
the seat, arms, and crest rails. Nevertheless,
I would not know how to start a Windsor without first working out all the parts,
angles, and connections in SketchUp.
Perhaps someday SketchUp will include a woodworker’s toolbox equipped
with drawknives, travishers, files, and
spokeshaves. Meantime, I’ll be quite

Figure 2. An exploded view of the top of an American highboy. Once you’ve drawn the
individual elements of a piece of furniture, you can display them in numerous ways without
having to redraw anything.

•M
ake any woodworking joint,
no matter how complex.
• Assemble paneled doors and
drawers.
• Shape cabriole legs, back slats,
steam-bent parts, scrolled aprons,
tapered legs, and the like.
• Design and shape complex
moldings.
• Render turned drawer knobs,
table legs, chair stretchers, bowls,
and spindles.

SketchUp’s special strengths
(and limitations)
When you work in SketchUp, you create
“components.” These are 3D elements
that define a piece of furniture—a leg,
stiles and rails, a drawer front, and so on.
For multiples, like table legs and drawer
sides, you draw one and copy it as many

2

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

times as needed. You can rotate or flip
the copies to orient them properly. And
any change you make to one copy automatically appears in the others.
If you want to reproduce a piece of period furniture, you can import a scanned
image of the original into SketchUp, then
use the image to determine exact sizes
and re-create original shapes.
In SketchUp, there is no need to draw
multiple views of an object. With a few
mouse clicks, you can view the model
or its pieces from any angle and at any
size. You can easily create an exploded,
orthographic, or X-Ray view.
SketchUp’s Scenes feature lets you isolate
and enlarge a portion of a large or complex piece, such as a drawer in a highboy,
without having to create a separate drawing. Scenes let you generate a complete,
detailed, printable design document.

Figure 3. These drawings of a cabriole leg show SketchUp’s versatility. You can show the
overall component with dimensions, in two-dimensional views, or in perspective views to show
complete details of the joints, such as the dovetail socket and mortises.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter one
satisfied having SketchUp produce accurate and detailed basic construction
information.

What to learn before
you begin drawing
Although SketchUp is a remarkably intuitive program, it does have a learning curve. In the years that I’ve taught
woodworkers how to use SketchUp, I’ve
developed a set of beginning steps—
what you need before you can begin
effectively producing furniture or other
woodworking models. I’ve structured
the early chapters of the book to impart
the following basic skills.
Setup Covered in Chapter 2, the setup
includes which Toolbars to show, how
to set up dimensioning so it works best
for furniture, and how to have frequently
used dialog boxes readily available on
the screen. You’ll also learn how to save
the setup as a template, so that the settings you need are there each time you
open SketchUp.
Moving around the model Being able to
move around the model is the most important basic skill for a beginning SketchUp
user. It’s covered in Chapter 3. You’ll learn
about the three axes that define a 3D view
in SketchUp and how to stay on axis so
that your drawings are rendered properly.
You’ll also learn how to pan, zoom, and
orbit to move around a model.
How to use basic drawing tools In Chapter 4, you learn the proper ways to use
the Line, Polygon, Circle, and Arc tools

3

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

for drawing basic shapes. I’ll also introduce other tools in the SketchUp array.
These include the Push/Pull Tool, which
adds depth to 2D shapes, and the Tape
Measure Tool, which not only lets you
check the accuracy of dimensions but
also lets you place guidelines to use
in drawing components or positioning
them accurately.
Drawing to precise length In Chapter
5, I’ll take you through the creation of
a component—part of the tail vise on
a Tage Frid workbench—to show how
inputting data using the keyboard lets
you draw to exact dimensions. You’ll
also learn more about using the Tape
Measure Tool, the one I use more than
any other.
Making, editing, moving, and connecting
components A critical feature of SketchUp, described in Chapter 6, makes it
possible to treat each piece in the model
as if it were a real part of the furniture.
Understanding how to create and manipulate components is the key to using
SketchUp successfully.
Sure, it can be daunting to learn another computer program. But SketchUp
is worth it, especially for woodworkers.
It takes work and lots of practice, but
you will be amazed at how SketchUp
will change and improve your woodworking. It is a powerful tool for your
workshop. Learn to use it as if it were
a tablesaw, handplane, or router. It can
have an effect on your woodworking
ability as much as or more than the best
shop hardware.

Figure 4. This rough model of a Maloof-style rocker illustrates SketchUp’s limitations. The program is fine for showing joinery and construction details, but not for the artful sculpting that’s
the hallmark of the Maloof style.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter two

How to Set Up SketchUp
for Woodworking

D

ownloading SketchUp is straightforward, whether you use
Windows XP, Windows Vista,
Windows 7, or Mac OS-X. Go
to www.sketchup.google.com, the main
Google SketchUp website. There, you
can choose to download either the Pro
version or the Free version. You don’t
need the Pro version to produce fully
detailed models and shop drawings.
The download leaves a SketchUp icon
on the desktop. Click on it to open the application and bring up a welcome screen.
Click on the Choose Template button.
You will see the dialog box shown in
Figure 1, which lists the standard tem-

plates SketchUp provides. Select Product
Design and Woodworking-Inches, which
is a good starting point.
SketchUp templates represent default
settings available whenever you create
a new drawing. You can also create a
personalized template by setting numerous other parameters.
Also in the dialog box, uncheck the box
labeled “Always show on startup,” and click
the button labeled “Start using SketchUp.”
This opens a screen like the one shown
in Figure 2. Above the modeling window
is the SketchUp toolbar. At the very top of
the screen is the Menu Bar with the titles
“File,” “Edit,” “View,” and so on.

I recommend making the following
changes and saving them within a
personalized template.

Set the Model Information
Model Info fixes the units of measurement you’ll use, the degree of precision
in the measurements, and the appearance
of on-screen numbers and words.
1. Click on the Window tab in the Menu

bar to open the drop-down dialog box
shown in Figure 3.
2. Click on Model Info in the dialog
box to open a new dialog box, as shown
in Figure 4.
3. In the window on the left of the
Model Info dialog box, click on Units.
Then, using the other windows in that
dialog box, set the Format to Fractional,
the Precision to 1⁄16”, and check the box

Menu Bar

SketchUp
Toolbar

Modeling Window

Figure 1. The Welcome to SketchUp dialog box.

Figure 2. The opening screen.

Figure 3. The drop-down dialog box in the
Windows menu.

Figure 4. The dialog box for setting units of
length.

SketchUp 8
I prepared this book using SketchUp version 7. Shortly before the book was completed, Google released version 8. The upgrade contains a number of changes and
new features, but most make it easier to draw buildings or landscapes, not furniture.
Other changes appear only in the for-pay Pro version. By and large, SketchUp 8
looks like and works like SketchUp 7, so the instructions in this book still apply.
SketchUp 8 has a couple of interesting new features that should appeal to woodworkers. The Scenes dialog box now displays thumbnail images of each scene you
create. (See chapter 15 for more on scenes.) There is a new face style, called Back
Edges. It shows hidden edges of an object as dashed lines. It’s an alternative to
the frequently used X-Ray face view (see chapter 3). In orthogonal views, the Back
Edges view also makes the sketch look more like conventional mechanical drawing,
with dadoes, grooves, and other hidden elements rendered in dashed lines.

4

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter two
labeled Enable Length Snapping. The
1⁄16-in. setting is adequate for most woodworking tasks, but you can change the
setting to 1⁄ 32 in. or 1⁄ 64 in. at any time if
you need greater display precision.
4. Click on Dimensions in the window
on the left of the Model Info dialog box
(Figure 5). Set Fonts to size 10 and Leader Lines Endpoints to None. Choose the
label Align to Dimension Line Outside.
Figure 5. The dialog box for setting the size
and style of dimensions and labels.

Set the Styles

Figure 8. The Edge Styles dialog box.

Figure 6. The Styles dialog box.

To save
changes
to styles,
click this
icon before
closing the
dialog box
‘Doghouse’ icon

Figure 7. Clicking on the icon shown opens
this dialog box.

5

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 9. The Background Styles dialog box.

Style settings determine the background
color in your drawings, the weight of
the lines that form the edges of objects
in the drawings, and the colors of the
objects you draw.
1. Click on the Window tab in the
Menu bar to open the drop-down dialog box. Choose Styles to open a new
window, as shown in Figure 6.
2. Click on what I call the doghouse
icon (Google calls it the In Model icon)
near the center of the window. That
causes the dialog box to change as in
Figure 7, showing the current style below the doghouse icon.
3. Click the Edit tab in the window. This
brings up five small icons and some new
windows, as shown in Figure 8.
4. Click on the leftmost icon, which
represents Edge Styles. In the small
boxes below, check the Profile box and
place a 1 in the adjacent box. This setting gives an edge weight that’s not too
thick and not too thin.
5. Click on the Background icon, which
is the one in the center, to bring up
choices for the background, as shown
in Figure 9. Leave the boxes for Sky
and Ground unchecked. Click on the

Figure 10. The Toolbars choices in the
View menu.

Background box to fix the background
color: Set the RGB values to 250, 250,
250, which is very close to a pure white
background. (I like a slightly off-white
background to contrast with the white
faces in the model.)
6. Click on the Update icon (the icon
with two half-circle arrows chasing each
other) in the upper-right corner of the
window, to save your changes. Always
click that icon before closing the box.
I’ve skipped over several of the options,
focusing instead on the default values.
As you gain experience with SketchUp,
you’ll want to learn more about and experiment with those other options.

Set the Toolbars
Toolbars set up the SketchUp screen so
that the tools you use most often are
always in view.
1. Click the View tab on the Menu Bar
and point your mouse over the Toolbars
item at the top of the list. (If you are
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter two

Figure 11. The heavy dashes next to entries
in the drop-down menu identify dialog boxes
to be shown on the screen.

on a Mac, click on View, choose Tool
Palettes, then Large Tool Set.) On the
Windows version, you will see a pop-up
list as shown in Figure 10. The window
looks slightly different on the Mac, but
still offers the Large Tool Set.
Checkmarks in the pop-up menu identify my recommended toolbars: Large Tool
Set, Face Style, Layers, Standard, Views,
and Large Buttons. Each of these toolbar
modifications is made independently. That
is, for each change you must click the View
tab, hover over Toolbars, and click on one
of the toolbars in the list. Leave the Getting
Started toolbar unchecked because other
settings incorporate those tools. On the
Mac, choose these same sets of tools, but
drag and drop them from the Tool Palette
to the screen.

Set the Dialog Boxes
The last setup step involves placing frequently used dialog boxes on the screen
in a “minimized clump” format. I like

6

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

to have Materials, Components, Styles,
Layers, and Scene dialog boxes readily
available on-screen. These are all available in the Window drop-down menu.
As shown in Figure 11, a heavy dash
identifies those items in the drop-down
list. Like individual toolbars, dialog boxes are placed one at a time.
1. Click the Window tab on the Menu
Bar, then click on Materials in the dropdown list to open the Materials dialog
box, as shown in Figure 12. (The box
looks quite different on a Mac.)
2. Tap the mouse on its top title bar.
That reduces the box to the size of the
title bar only. To expand the box, tap the
title bar again.
3. Open another dialog box, minimize
it, then move it by grabbing the top title
bar with the mouse and dragging it to
connect to the others. Do this for each
box you want to display. This forms
a clump of dialog boxes that can be
moved around the screen to avoid interfering with the drawing space. Figure 13
shows the five dialog boxes minimized
and clumped.

Figure 12. The Materials
dialog box. To minimize it,
click on the heavy top bar.

Figure 13. The dialog boxes
minimized, clumped, and
positioned where they won’t
interfere with the drawing.

Save the Changes as a Template
Save the changes as a template. This
very important step ensures that your
personalized settings will appear each
time you open SketchUp. Creating a
template is simple.
Click the File tab in the Menu Bar. In
the drop-down menu select Save As
Template, as shown in Figure 14. This
opens a new dialog box, as shown in the
inset to the figure. Fill out the template
form with the name and description you
prefer and click Save.

Figure 14. To save all the
changes to the setup so
they are active whenever
you open SketchUp, open
the File menu and choose
Save as Template. Fill in
the blanks in the new window that opens (see inset),
then click the Save button.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter three

The Modeling Environment
and Toolbars

B

efore you begin to draw in
SketchUp, you need to learn
the basics of the modeling environment and how to move
around within it.
There are many ways to maneuver
around in SketchUp, including dedicated
tools and shortcut keys. But in my experience, the best way to get around is
with a mouse that has a scroll wheel.
Even if you have a laptop with a touchpad, it will pay to get a good mouse with
a scroll wheel and use it.

The axes
When you open SketchUp, you’ll see
the screen shown in Figure 1, with red,
green, and blue axes connected at an
origin. The red axis follows the X direction (left to right), the green axis
follows the Y direction (from front to
back), and the blue axis follows the Z
direction (up and down).
As you model and move around in
SketchUp, the axes and the origin are often out of view, but you always need to
keep in mind how the axes are aligned.
Fortunately, SketchUp automatically helps
keep you properly oriented by highlighting an axis color when you use one of
the drawing tools. For example, when you
begin drawing a line without regard to its
axis, the line will appear black, but when

7

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

you get the line oriented along, say, the X
axis, the line will change to red.

How to move around the model
There are three basic movements in
SketchUp: zoom, orbit, and pan.
To use the Zoom Tool, rotate the scroll
wheel on the mouse. Roll it toward the
nose of the mouse to zoom closer to
the model; roll it toward the tail of the
mouse to zoom away.
The Orbit Tool rotates your view of the
model around one or more of the axes.
To use the Orbit Tool, press the scroll
wheel as you move the mouse. Moving
the mouse left to right rotates your view
clockwise (as if the model were rotating
counterclockwise), moving the mouse
right to left spins your view counterclockwise, and moving the mouse forward and
back rotates your view up and down.
Moving the mouse on a diagonal will rotate your view in two directions.
The Pan Tool moves the view from side
to side or top to bottom without changing the model’s orientation. I pan often to
center my model on the screen. To pan,
hold down the mouse scroll wheel while
pressing the Shift key as you move the
mouse left, right, forward, or back.
Figure 2 shows SketchUp’s on-screen
tools for moving around the model.
The Zoom Extents Tool makes your en-

Origin

Figure 1. SketchUp’s opening screen, showing the red, green, and blue axes.

tire model visible and centered on the
screen. Occasionally, you may lose your
model because it seems to vanish from
the screen. No amount of panning and
zooming can bring it back. But one click
of the Zoom Extents Tool automatically
brings the model back in view.
Zoom Extents is a very useful tool.
As for Zoom, Orbit, and Pan, I think
it’s better to ignore them and use the
mouse instead. Using the tools makes
modeling inefficient, slowing it to an
unacceptable level.
When you depress the scroll wheel,
the mouse pointer changes to the Orbit
icon. When you press the scroll wheel
and the Shift key, the pointer changes
to the Pan icon.
To help you become familiar with the
modeling environment, the move tools,
and the like, I’m providing a SketchUp

Orbit
Pan
Zoom
Zoom Extents

Figure 2. The four tools that allow you to
move your orientation with respect to the
model. Although you can click these icons
on the toolbar, it’s faster to use the mouse to
activate the Orbit, Pan, and Zoom Tools.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter three

Figure 4. Zoomed out
to a “fly speck.”

Figure 3. You can download the SketchUp file for the Connecticut stool to help you become
familiar with SketchUp’s tools and the modeling environment.

Figure 5. The horizontal toolbars let you change the point of view of the drawing, alter the
style of the faces in a model, and perform such basic functions as cut, copy, paste, and print.

file of the Connecticut Stool shown in
Figure 3. Open the SketchUp file provided with this book. Use the file to
practice moving around the model with
the mouse to orbit, zoom, and pan. For
example, zoom into the corner of the
top to inspect the thumbnail molding,
or drive into the leg to get a close-up of
the round-to-square transition.
As I’ll show later in the chapter, you
can also use the file to familiarize yourself
with SketchUp’s toolbars. As you try out
the movement tools, you will find that it’s
easy to zoom out quickly to a very tiny
block that’s extremely hard to see (Figure

When designing a piece of furniture,
you often have to connect components
precisely. So as you move one component into position, you zoom in to
be sure you’re making the right connection. And you may need to orbit
the model to get a better view. These
viewing actions can be done while
the Move/Copy Tool is still activated.
You can go back and forth quickly between changing the view and moving
the component.
One caution: Mice come with a disk
or download instructions for installing specific drivers. However, the de-

8

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

4). Obviously, it’s difficult and frustrating
to edit and work on a model the size of
a fly speck. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix
the view by zooming and positioning the
model with Orbit and Pan.

Why use a mouse?
The benefits of using a mouse can be
simply put: A mouse lets you multitask.
You can be drawing a line, moving a
component, or copying it while simultaneously moving around the model. There
is no need to stop one activity and switch
tools when you want to shift your view
of the model.

fault settings in those drivers make
the scroll wheel implement odd actions, such as opening Internet Explorer. When I buy a new mouse, I
don’t bother with the drivers. Instead,
I let my computer’s operating system
handle the defaults.

Horizontal toolbars
In Chapter 2, you learned how to place
various toolbars in a horizontal row
across the top of the screen, as shown in
Figure 5. This section covers the specific
tools in more detail and explains which
ones I find most useful. If you forget
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S

ch a pter three

X-Ray

Hidden Line

Shaded with Textures

Print Model Info

Wireframe
New

Open

Save

Cut Copy Paste

Erase

Undo

Shaded

Monochrome

Redo

Figure 6. The Standard Toolbar includes functions common to many computer applications.

what function or tool an icon activates,
just place your mouse over the icon; that
will make the tool’s name appear.

Standard Toolbar

Iso

Top

Front

Right

Back

Left

Figure 7. The Views Toolbar lets you change the orientation of the model with one mouse click.

Figure 6 shows the Standard Toolbar
pulled down from its normal position,
but only for the sake of clarity. The icons
identify functions that are common to
many computer applications: Cut, Copy,
Paste, Print, Undo, Redo, and the like.
The Mac version lacks the Standard
Toolbar, but you can pick the Undo/
Redo Toolbar, which is very helpful.
The Undo and Redo buttons are especially helpful in SketchUp. I probably
use Undo more than any other function.
You’ll often experiment with lines, arcs,
movements, copies, and other actions.
Clicking the Undo icon makes it easy to
go back to the starting point.

Views Toolbar

Figure 8. Clicking the Front icon in the Views
Toolbar gives you a head-on perspective view
of the object you are drawing.

9

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 9. When you choose the Front view
and select Parallel Projection from the Camera menu, you get a 2D head-on view. It’s
very useful for producing full-size templates.

Figure 7 shows the Views Toolbar. The
six icons represent standard views in
SketchUp and let you reorient the entire
model with one mouse click.
For example, when you click on the
Front icon, SketchUp automatically positions the model as if you were looking

Figure 10. The Face Style Toolbar lets you alter the appearance of the drawing. Of the six
choices, I use only the X-Ray and the Shaded
with Textures styles.

straight at it from the front in a perspective view (Figure 8).
I use these standard views because I like
to have front, side, and top orthographic
views for reference. They can also be faster than the Orbit Tool for maneuvering to
the side of the model. However, I do not
use the isometric view because I prefer the
normal SketchUp perspective.
You can also use the View icons in
conjunction with choices found in the
Camera tab in the Menu Bar. For example, begin with the stool shown from
the front in a standard perspective view.
Now click on the Camera tab and choose
Parallel Projection from the drop-down
menu. You’ll see that SketchUp changes
the view of the stool to a front orthographic (2D) view, as shown in Figure 9.
This type of view is essential for producing full-size templates. I’ll discuss that in
more detail in Chapter 16.
Practice selecting various standard
views from the View Toolbar and experiment with Perspective and Parallel
Projections from the Camera menu.

Face Style Toolbar
The six icons in the Face Style Toolbar
(Figure 10) determine the appearance of
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Figure 12. The Layers Toolbar is useful when you want to have multiple views of an object.

Status Bar

Figure 11. An X-Ray view is the easiest way to see how accurately you’ve drawn joinery. If a
tenon doesn’t fit precisely in its mortise, for example, you’ll see the problem right away.

the faces of the model. The default face
style is the second from the right: Shaded
with Textures. I find it effective for most
of my modeling. The only other face style
I use is X-Ray, on the far left. Figure 11
shows the stool in X-Ray view, making
the mortise-and-tenon joints visible. I use
X-Ray often to check my joinery. For example, if a tenon is not sized or positioned
properly, the X-Ray view will clearly show
the problem. I also use X-Ray when I print
full-size templates. The template shows
the hidden joinery, which helps me mark
joint locations on the wood.
I ignore the other four face styles because I don’t find them useful for my

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

woodworking. However, click on each
of the icons to see how they change the
appearance of the drawing.

Layers Toolbar
As you begin to learn SketchUp, ignore
the Layers tools. Although CAD programs
typically require the use of different layers, SketchUp doesn’t. I’ll cover layers
and how to use them in Chapter 15.
Layers represent alternative ways of
viewing the object you are drawing. I use
layers to produce a package of drawing
documents, isolating features or dimensions to particular scenes. As Figure 12
shows, when you open the Layers Toolbar

Figure 13.The Status Bar provides helpful hints and tutorials on using SketchUp’s tools.

and click the arrow to the right of the Text
Box, you open a pop-up box listing all the
layers you have created. In this case, the
Connecticut stool model has five layers.
Layer 0 is the default layer. By creating
separate layers, I can have dimensions
and text show up in one view but not in
others. If you use layers, keep the default
layer as 0, otherwise you may unintentionally create graphics on another layer
that will cause problems when you set up
views (Scenes) and produce drawings.

Check the status bar
The Status Bar is always displayed at the
bottom of the SketchUp screen. It pro-

vides a significant amount of good information. As you model—choose tools,
move components, and so on—the Status
Bar updates with instructions or options
for your next steps.
As you can see in Figure 13, I have begun to draw a line, identified by the small
Pencil icon in the foreground. The Status
Bar says, “Select endpoint or enter value.”
That is, it’s suggesting my next step in
finishing the line. The Status Bar also provides Status Indicator icons, which you
can click to get help. When you select a
tool and click the Question Mark icon, for
example, an Instructor Dialog Box opens
to explain how the tool works.
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How to Use
Basic SketchUp Tools

F

igure 1 shows the Large Tool Set,
which includes all the drawing,
moving, measuring, labeling,
and viewing tools. When you
hover the mouse over an icon in the

tool set, SketchUp identifies the tool
with a small label, like the one for Line
Tool in the illustration.
I’ll cover the following eight tools in
this chapter:
Line Tool. Used to make straight lines
or create a plane-like face for a piece of
wood. Another tool pushes or pulls the
face to the desired thickness.

Select
Eraser
Rectangle
Line

Arc
Circle

Push/Pull

Tape Measure

Figure 1. Drawing tools in the Large Tool Set.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Eraser Tool. This tool does just what its
name says. But it also allows you to hide
or smooth parts of the model by removing odd facets and lines.
Push/Pull Tool. Probably the most frequently used SketchUp tool. It transforms a plane or face into a 3D object.
The Push/Pull Tool allows you to make
mortises and tenons and to make or
change the thickness, width, or length
of a piece of wood.
Select Tool. This is used to pick individual parts or the complete model.
Once you select a part it can be deleted,
moved, copied, or scaled, using other
tools in the set.
Rectangle Tool. It draws a four-sided
shape. I don’t use this tool, but I’ve included it because I know many wood-

workers who do use it effectively to
begin drawing pieces of wood.
Circle Tool. Used to make round components like dowels or holes for tenon pins,
screws, bolts, and such.
Arc Tool. Used for the shapes in moldings, lathe turnings, knobs, carvings, and
the like.

Figure 2. The beginning of a line drawn
along the red axis.

Tape Measure Tool. You use this tool to
check dimensions. The Tape Measure Tool
also lets you place temporary construction lines to show the location of holes,
dovetails, joints, cuts, grooves, and so on.
You need to become familiar with
these tools before moving on to the others in the Large Tool Set. I’ll explain how
to use the other tools in later chapters.

The Line Tool
Click on the Line Tool. The cursor will
take the shape of the Pencil icon.
Begin drawing a line by clicking the
left mouse button in the modeling window, close to the origin of the three
axes. Where you click sets the starting
point for the line. Click the mouse button to start the line and release the button immediately—do not hold it. Drag
the mouse from left to right to extend
the line to the right. As you can see in
Figure 2, the line will be red. That means
the line is being drawn on the red axis.
If you don’t see a red line, move the
mouse slightly until the line snaps onto
the red axis. So far, the line is “rubber
banding,” and its direction and length

Figure 3. A line along the blue axis.

depend on how you move the mouse.
Make the line any length you wish,
checking to be sure it remains red, then
click the mouse button to set its endpoint. When you click to end the line,
its color will change to black.
SketchUp assumes that you will continue to draw a line from the end of the
previous line, so you don’t need to click
the mouse button to continue drawing.
The Line Tool continues rubber banding
until you click the mouse again, select
another tool, or press the Esc key.
Continue drawing the line, but shift
its direction to the blue axis. Move the
mouse as needed to ensure that the line
color is blue. Click the left mouse button
to set the end of this line (Figure 3).
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Continue drawing the line, keeping it
on the red axis again and moving the
mouse from right to left to draw the
line toward the left. When the cursor
reaches a spot just above end of the
first line you drew, a dotted line will appear. This is an inference—SketchUp’s
anticipation of your next step. In this
instance, SketchUp believes you intend
to make a rectangle, so it automatically
indicates the point at which you should
end the line. Click the mouse to end the
line at the inference point, as shown
in Figure 4. There are occasions when
SketchUp balks at showing the inference and needs some help to find it.
You can help by touching the first line’s

Figure 4. Drawing another line along the red
axis and creating an inference, shown by the
vertical dotted line.

Figure 5. Completing the rectangle. SketchUp automatically fills in the space to create
a face.

endpoint, then dragging the mouse to
line up with the axis.
Continue the line along the blue axis
back to the starting point of the first line.
Click the mouse to end the line. The

rectangle immediately fills with a white
“face,” as shown in Figure 5. Everything
drawn in SketchUp is composed of
edges and faces. The lines you create
make up the edges, and since the edges
exist in one geometrical plane (coplanar),
SketchUp automatically fills in a face.
Faces indicate drawing quality. If a
face does not appear when you expect
it to, chances are the lines you drew are
not coplanar, meaning that one or more
lines weren’t on axis.
Next, you’ll give this one face some
thickness. If you were designing a piece
of furniture, this would become its first
piece of wood.
Be sure you still have the Line Tool
selected. Click the mouse on the lower
end of the rectangle, then release the
mouse button immediately. Be sure the
line is on the green axis (the line will
turn green), and maneuver the mouse
so that the line moves toward the background. Click to end the line, as shown
in Figure 6.
Continue the line upward on the blue
axis. When the inference appears, click
the mouse button to end the line.

Edges and Faces
The SketchUp computer geometry is rather simple—all components and pieces are composed of edges and faces. Here you
see the Connecticut stool leg with all of its edges and faces
selected, which highlights them in blue. Although in SketchUp
we see the leg as a solid, it is actually hollow. It’s an object
with a thin (zero thickness) skin of faces surrounded by edges.
All edges in SketchUp consist of straight lines only. Even
curved edges, such as the turned portions of the stool leg, are
made up of many straight lines—so many that the curves look
smooth. But if you zoom in close, you can see the straight line
segments in the curves.
Faces are also always flat. The turned surfaces in the leg
are made up of many very small flat faces. You need connecting edges on a common plane to achieve a face. You can’t
make a face in SketchUp without creating edges that make up
a plane. There isn’t a Face Tool in SketchUp. Rather, to create
a face you create edges. If they are copolanar, SketchUp automatically fills in the face.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 6. Starting a line along the green
axis, to begin creating a 3D object.

Figure 7. Closing in one side and creating a
second face.

Figure 8. Creating the top edges.

Draw a line back to the upper right
hand corner of the original face. Another end face appears automatically,
as shown in Figure 7.
Draw a line toward the left on the red
axis until you see an inference. In this
case, the inference will appear as a dotted diagonal line. Click the mouse to end
the line, as shown in Figure 8.
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Figure 9. Finishing the block.

There are easier ways to draw rectangular blocks—pieces of wood, if you
will. You’ll learn those techniques later.
But drawing the block one line at a time
helps you understand how to use the
Line Tool, how to stay on axis, and how
to make use of SketchUp’s inferences.
Whenever you want to stop SketchUp
from continuing to draw a line, hit the
Esc key. That cancels the action altogether, so you can begin anew.
Figure 9 shows the finished block, completely enclosed with six faces. Use the
mouse and scroll wheel to zoom in and
orbit around. Check out the bottom face
by orbiting downward. Then orbit around
the block to look at the back face.
Put your cursor over the block and
practice zooming in and out with the
mouse scroll wheel. Note that when
you zoom, the position of the block
on screen depends on where you positioned the mouse cursor. When the cursor is over the block, it will remain in
the center of the screen. Try moving the
mouse to the upper-right hand corner.
Now when you zoom in, the block will
move off the screen toward the lower
left corner.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Creating this block is an important initial exercise. It introduces you to the basic drawing features in 3D space. It also
lets you practice six points to remember
for successful modeling:
• Use the mouse correctly. Click
the left button; don’t hold it down.
• Release the mouse button before
dragging the mouse.
• Stay on the red, green, or blue axis.
• Watch for the inferences that SketchUp automatically displays.
• Zoom in as close as you can to the
model, so you can easily see what
you’re doing.
• Use Pan, Orbit, and Zoom as often
as needed to get a convenient view
of the model.

The Eraser Tool
One of the most frequently used tools
is the Eraser.
Select the Eraser Tool and move it so
that the small square on the end of the
tool is over one of the block’s edges.
Click the mouse to delete the edge. The
faces that were dependent on that edge
are also deleted.

Figure 10. Using the Eraser Tool to remove
an edge from the block.

Position the small square at the end of
the Eraser Tool on a corner of the block.
This time, when you click the mouse,
multiple edges and faces disappear (Figure 10). You can also hold the mouse
button and drag the Eraser Tool to delete
lines and faces. When you hold down
the mouse button, the lines you want to
erase turn blue.
Use the Eraser Tool to delete edges,
but leave the front face intact. You’ll do
more with that face in a later step.
The Eraser Tool performs a couple
of other handy functions, which I will
cover in more detail later. In combination with the Shift key, the Eraser Tool
will temporarily hide selected graphics,
a component, a line, or a face from view.
To “unhide,” or bring the graphics back
into view, click on Edit in the Menu Bar
and select Unhide from the menu. When
combined with the Ctrl key (Option
on a Mac), the Eraser Tool becomes a
smoothing and softening tool to remove
hard lines that should not show.

The Push/Pull Tool
In an earlier step, you made the block a
3D object by adding lines with the Line
Tool. There is a much easier way to accomplish that: Use the Push/Pull Tool.
Click on the tool and move the cursor
over the front face of the block. A pattern
of small blue dots appears on the face,
as shown in Figure 11. Click and release
the left mouse button. Now move the
mouse in the green direction, toward the
background. As you move the mouse, the
face—now a 3D block—grows longer, as
shown in Figure 12. To end the extrusion,

Use the Arrow Keys
to Stay on Axis
SketchUp has two ways to help
you stay on axis.
1. Use the four arrow keys on the
computer keyboard. Tapping the
appropriate key when you begin to
draw a line constrains the line to a
particular axis. For example, if you
need to draw a line on the red axis,
click the mouse to start the line,
then tap the Right Arrow key. No
matter what direction you move
the mouse, the line will follow the
red axis. To constrain the line to
the green axis, tap the Left Arrow
key. To constrain the line to the
blue axis, tap either the Up Arrow
or Down Arrow key.
The arrow keys also work with
the Move/Copy Tool. To constrain
movement of a component on
the red axis, for example, tap the
Right Arrow key. Use the other
arrow keys to constrain movement
on the other axes.
2. Use the Shift key. In this case,
you need to start the line or the
movement on the desired axis,
then hold down the Shift key. This
will constrain the line or movement on that selected axis. You
will find these aids invaluable. I
use them very frequently.

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Figure 11. Hovering the Push/Pull Tool over
a face selects it, as shown by the pattern of
blue dots.

Figure 12. Using the Push/Pull Tool to give
thickness to a rectangle.

Figure 13. Adding lines breaks faces and
their edges into separate elements. Here,
the line divides one face, so that only part is
selected.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

click the mouse button again. Experiment
with the Push/Pull Tool on this block.
Orbit around and place the cursor on any
of the faces. Pull and push them to create
different block shapes.
You’ll use the Push/Pull Tool frequently to draw boards to the appropriate length, width, and depth. The Push/
Pull Tool is also extremely versatile for
shaping wood, such as making mortises,
tenons, rabbets, grooves, and dovetails.
To further shape the block, draw a line
across the top face and another across
the front face, as shown in Figure 13.
When you connect lines or cross
lines, the existing lines are divided into
pieces. The top right edge of the block
was one line originally. But by drawing
of the new line across the top face, the
top right edge now consists of two segments. Use the Select Tool to click on
each segment. Note that only the segment you select is highlighted. Likewise,
drawing a line across a face divides it
into separate parts. Use the Select Tool
again to click on faces and see how the
single face is now divided.
Select the Push/Pull Tool and pull out
part of the top and front faces of the
block, as shown in Figure 14. Then draw
two lines on the small front face of the
block, as shown in Figure 15. Select the
Push/Pull Tool and click on the small
rectangle you just drew on the front
corner of the block. Release the mouse
button; do not hold it down. Push your
mouse along the green direction—toward the background—and toward the
back of the block. You have just begun
to create a rabbet.

Figure 14. Once you have divided a face,
you can use the Push/Pull Tool to extend
specific parts. It’s a technique used to create
tenons, for example.

Figure 15. Adding lines to a face to begin
shaping a rabbet along one edge of the block.

You can stop the rabbet at any point
along the edge by clicking the mouse. Or,
to run the rabbet all the way along that
side of the block, click the mouse on the
back edge of the block (Figure 16).

The Select Tool
When you choose the Select Tool, the
cursor becomes a short arrow. The tool’s
name describes its function: Use it to
select things in the model. It can select
one thing or many, depending on how
you use the tool.
Figure 17 shows one edge selected.
Put the cursor over the line and click
the left mouse button. The line changes
from black to blue. If you then hold
down the Shift key and click in an adjacent face, you will have both the line
and the face selected. The pattern of
blue dots on the face tells you it has
been selected. Note, too, that when
you hold down the Shift key, a plus
(+) sign appears next to the arrow; this
indicates that you can select more than
one item.

Figure 16. Using the Push/Pull Tool to create
a rabbet.

Figure 17. Using the Select Tool to highlight
an edge.
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Left-to-right Selection Box

Figure 18. Moving left to right with the
Select Tool generates a solid selection box.
That selects any element contained within
the box, as shown by the blue lines.
Partial left-to-right
Selection Box

Figure 19. A partial left-to-right selection
leaves some elements untouched.

Right-to-left
Selection Box

Figure 20. Moving right to left with the
Select Tool generates a dotted Selection
Box. In this case, anything the box touches
will be selected.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

There are several reasons to select
things in a model: to move, scale, delete, copy, or group things, or to make
a component. So, with the top and edge
selected as in Figure 17, if I pressed the
Delete key on the keyboard, I would
remove only those two items.
You can use this tool several ways to
quickly select all or part of a model.
Left-to-right drag Use the Select Tool to
click and drag a box around the modeled
block, moving the mouse from the upper
left to the lower right of the screen. This
creates a solid selection box, as shown in
Figure 18. All things entirely within the
box are selected and highlighted. If you
drag the box only part-way across the
modeled block, as shown in Figure 19,
only fully enclosed items are selected.
In this case the box fully encloses only
two edges and one side face, so they are
selected and highlighted.
Right-to-left drag Clicking and dragging
the Select Tool from right to left produces
a different result. The box is shown with
a dashed line, and anything the box
touches will be selected. So, as shown
in Figure 20, the front and top face are
highlighted but not the left vertical and
horizontal top edge.
Double and triple clicking You can also
use multiple mouse clicks to quickly
select all or part of an object. Move the
Select Tool cursor over the front face of
the block. Double-click the left mouse
button. This selects and highlights the
face and its four bounding edges, as

Figure 21. You can double-click with the
Select Tool to select all edges and faces in
an object.

Figure 22. Drawing with the Rectangle Tool.

shown in Figure 21. Triple-click to select
the entire block. And if, after you have
selected everything, you click a fourth
time, that will deselect everything but
the face the cursor is over.

The Rectangle Tool
After picking the Rectangle Tool, click
and release the left mouse button to set
the location of the rectangle’s starting
corner. Move the mouse to size the rectangle; click the mouse again to finish
the shape.
When the angle of view is looking
down on the model, as shown in Figure
22, the rectangle will draw on the red–
green plane. To draw a rectangle standing
up vertically, use the Orbit Tool to make
the angle of view more straight on.
A plane or face has two sides. SketchUp uses blue to represent the back side
of a face; white, to represent the front.
These faces are created automatically,
and SketchUp guesses as to front and
back. Sometimes it’s wrong, and you will
see a blue face that should be white.
Figure 23 shows a rectangle with the

Figure 23. When you right-click an object
using the Select Tool, a pop-up menu appears
to give you a list of editing options. Here, the
faces of the object are being reversed.

wrong face forward. To reverse the
faces, right-click on the face and select
Reverse Faces from the pop-up menu.
The face will turn white.

The Circle Tool
Click on the Circle Tool and hover the
mouse over the top surface of the block.
A small blue circle will appear. The blue
color signals that the circle will be created on the blue axis; its face will be in
the red–green plane (the same plane as
the top surface of the block). A small
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Figure 24. Placing a circle on the blue axis
(the face is on the red–green axis).

Figure 25. Placing a circle on the green axis
(the face is on the red–blue axis).

label (On Face) near the circle tells you
that you are drawing the circle on the
face of the block.
Click the left mouse button to fix the
location of the circle’s center point. Release the button and drag the mouse to
expand the circle’s radius. Click again to
fix the circle’s size on the face, as shown
in Figure 24.
Hover the mouse over a vertical face
on the block, as shown in Figure 25. This
time, the circle appears in green, meaning it will be created on the green axis
because its face is on the red–blue plane.
As you did before, click the mouse to
position the center point of the circle,
move the mouse to the desired radius,
and click again.
You can use the Push/Pull Tool to
modify circles, turning them into dowels
or holes, as shown in Figure 26. To do
that, select the Push/Pull Tool and move
it over one of the circles you drew. A
pattern of blue dots inside the circle tells
you that you have selected it. Click the
mouse, release the button, then move
the mouse to either push the face to create a hole, or pull it to make a pin or a
dowel. Click again to stop the action.

The Arc Tool

Figure 26. Using the Push/Pull Tool with the
circles to create a hole and a dowel.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

To see how the Arc Tool works, place
an arc on the top edge of the block, as
shown in Figure 27. Select the tool, click
once on one of the edges, then click the
mouse on the other edge. Now move
the mouse to see how the arc changes
size and shape. As the figure shows, the
arc’s color changes to magenta when it
is tangent to an edge. Also, there is an

Figure 27. Using the Arc Tool to place an
arc. The magenta color signals that the arc is
tangent to a face on the red axis.

inference that tells you when you are at
the same distance from the endpoints—
that is, at a 45 degree angle. Then you
get tangency to both edges. Click again
to fix the position and shape of the arc.
In this case, the tangency determines the
bulge of the arc.
However, there are many instances in
which you want to specify the height of
an arc. You can do that by using the Measurements Box in the lower right-hand
corner of the screen. (The Measurements
Box is more fully explained in Chapter
5). As you use the mouse to change the
bulge of the arc, the numbers in the Measurements Box also change. You can type
a number and hit the Enter key to fix the
shape of the arc.
Choose the Push/Pull Tool and click
on the small triangle above the arc shape
you just drew; the blue dots will signal
that you’ve selected that area. Push along
the green axis, toward the background,
then click on the back edge of the block
(Figure 28). This is one way to round
over edges and create moldings.

Figure 28. Using the Push/Pull Tool to
remove waste next to the arc, creating
a roundover edge.

Figure 29. Placing an arc with the Arc Tool and
then using the Push/Pull Tool to create a cove.

Click the Arc Tool on one end of the
edge of the rabbet, then click on the other
end. Push the mouse upward, along the
blue axis, to create a cove shape. Click
again. Now use the Push/Pull Tool to create the cove shape shown in Figure 29.

The Tape Measure Tool
SketchUp has a rich set of layout and
construction lines (temporary dotted
lines) called guides. I find guides essential for furniture design. You use
them to lay out and position cuts,
holes, grooves, rabbets, tongues, and
any other joinery shape. Most of the
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Figure 30. Using the Tape Measure Tool to
place a guide parallel to an edge.

Figure 31. Using the Tape Measure Tool to
set a guide point near a corner.

Figure 32. Using the Tape Measure Tool to
place a Linear Guide, one that coincides with
an edge.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

time, you use the Tape Measure Tool
to create the guides you need (when
you need a guide placed at an angle,
you use the Protractor Tool, which is
covered on page 41). The type of guide
the Tape Measure Tool creates depends
on where you first click the mouse. Setting guides can be frustrating at first,
but with practice, you can increase your
efficiency and speed.
I will use our working block to show
the various ways to use the Tape Measure Tool.
Parallel Guide Line As shown in Figure
30, place the very tip of the Tape Measure
Tool icon on an edge in a component,
click, and move the mouse to the left,
along the red axis. A dotted line, parallel
to the edge line, follows the mouse movement. Click again to set the position of
the line. When you want a parallel guide
a specific distance from an edge, type the
desired value. This value will appear in
the Measurements Box.
Occasionally, the Tape Measure will
create a Guide Point (a small, heavy
cross) instead of a Parallel Guide Line.
Unless you started the Tape Measure
Tool at a corner, this can happen when
the Tape Measure Tool senses an inference to some other corner or feature.
To correct the problem, shift the location of your starting point to be free
from the automatic inference.
Guide Point As shown in Figure 31,
position the tip of the Tape Measure
Tool on a corner, click and release the
mouse, move the mouse to the right, and

Figure 33. Using the Tape Measure Tool to locate the centerline of a face. The cyan-colored
dot tells you that you have moved the tool to the proper place.

click again to set the guide point.
I use guide points occasionally to find a
circle’s center or a point’s distance from a
corner. guide points are difficult to delete,
so I don’t use them as often as guide
lines. However, you can delete all guide
lines and guide points in the model with
a couple of mouse clicks. Go to Edit in
the Menu Bar and choose Delete Guides
from the drop-down menu
Linear Guide Line A Linear Guide aligns
with a particular edge, as shown in
Figure 32. To set this type of guide,
double-click the Tape Measure Tool on
the desired edge. I use Linear Guides
quite often when I need to line up
components or find the intersection of
two angled lines.

I often need to locate the centerline
of a face, which I can easily do with
the Tape Measure Tool. Click on one
edge, move the mouse over to a perpendicular edge, and slide it along that line.
As shown in Figure 33, you will see a
cyan-colored dot when you have moved
to the midpoint. Click the mouse again.
Now you have a guide running down
the center of the face.
You can also use the Tape Measure
Tool as a tape measure. When you use
the tool to draw guide lines, a plus sign
appears. Click the Ctrl key (Option on a
Mac) to remove the plus sign. Now you
can click to start a measurement, move
the mouse to the endpoint, and click the
mouse again. You can read the dimension in the Measurements Box.
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Learn to Draw Precisely

M

easurements dominate woodworking. The rule and tape
measure are always within
reach because you continually
check length, width, thickness, height,
depth, distance, and so on. Accuracy
and precision are critical for the drawings and plans you use as well. If you
don’t pay enough attention to detail,
especially to dimensions and measurements, your shop experience can be a
frustrating stint of reworking.
One of SketchUp’s strengths is its ability to produce high-quality, accurately dimensioned drawings that you can print.
Building an object in SketchUp requires
the same kind of accurate fitting that real
joinery does in the shop. When parts
don’t fit in SketchUp, you can see that
immediately and can easily make precise
corrections. When you place a dimension, you can count on its accuracy.
One of the most complex assemblies
I’ve ever attempted is the tail vise shown
in Figure 1. It’s part of the workbench described in “A Challenging Project” at the
right. With this kind of intricate assembly,
it’s essential to have a high-quality design
with accurate dimensions.
You’ll learn how to produce a precise,
accurately dimensioned drawing of your
own by drawing the end piece of the
workbench in SketchUp (The tail vise
parts fit up with this end piece.)
Begin by printing Figure 2, a full-page
dimensioned drawing of the workbench

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

end. Keep it next to your computer so
you can refer to it.
As you create your own drawing, you
will use the Measurements Box, located
in the lower right-hand corner of the
SketchUp screen (Figure 3). As you use
different drawing tools, the values shown
in the box change to tell you exact line
length, circle radius, arc bulge, rectangle
size, distance moved, angle rotated, and
protractor angle. The label to the left of
the box changes to tell you what value
will be shown.
SketchUp controls the Measurements
Box and decides which parameters are
applicable for the specific tool or action
involved. You cannot click to enter the
box or force it to change parameters,
say. However, with most drawing tools,
you can select the tool, begin using it,
and type a value that will appear in the
Measurements Box. What you type—21⁄ 2
for a line length, for example—controls
what appears in the drawing. You’ll
understand how this works as you go
through the process of drawing the
workbench end.
Drawing this object will introduce you
to these essential skills:
• How to place guide lines to locate
things.
• How to use the Measurements Box,
typing length or distance values.
• How to master the Push/Pull and
Line Tools.
• How to keep your drawing on-axis.

Figure 1. The parts of the
tail vise from the Tage Frid
workbench. Re-creating the
bench proved challenging.

A Challenging Project
In the summer of 2007, my local woodworking group (Diablo Woodworkers of
Pleasant Hill, California) began building nine Tage Frid cabinetmaker’s workbenches like the one shown in Figure A. About 600 board feet of rough maple,
German-made vise screws and bench dogs, and a comprehensive package of
my SketchUp drawings made us eager to get started.
The SketchUp package consisted of 75 pages of details, X-Ray views, closeups, orthographic views, exploded views, and full-size templates. I e-mailed the
document to participants several weeks before the first day in the shop. The
18 participants printed their own package for use during construction.
The full-size templates were invaluable, ensuring that each piece of maple
could be marked up precisely.
Although the actual building took
longer than we thought, at least we
did not have to deal with confusing or
Figure A. The Tage Frid workbench.
erroneous drawings. SketchUp provided
a high-quality document package without the faults commonly found in complex woodworking plans.
Making the benches was a very challenging but satisfying experience for the
group. It increased our confidence in tackling other difficult furniture projects.
SketchUp has been a big part of our success.

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Figure 2. Print this dimensioned drawing of
the workbench end and use it for reference
as your draw a copy.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

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Precise drawing, step by step
Step 1 Select the Line Tool; note that
the Measurements Box is now labeled
“Length.” Somewhere in the middle of
the modeling window, click the mouse
to begin drawing a line. Move the mouse
left to right to draw the line on the red
axis. Be sure the line is red, showing
that it is on-axis (Figure 4). Note how
the numbers in the Measurements Box
change as you lengthen the line. To
finish the line, type 165⁄8 and press the

Measurements Box

Figure 3. The Measurements Box is the key
to precise drawing.

Figure 4. To draw a line to an exact length,
type the length. The number appears in the
Measurements Box.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Enter key. This will produce a line exactly
165⁄8 in. long, which is the overall length
of the workbench end. (You can type
customary fractions or decimal values; if
you use fractions, type a space and not
a hyphen between a whole number and
the fraction.)
Figure 6. Use the
Push/Pull Tool to
create thickness.
Type the amount of
thickness; the figure
is displayed in the
Measurements Box.

Step 2 Continue a line upward, on the
blue axis. Type 4 and press the Enter
key. This creates the full height of the
workbench end (Figure 5).
Step 3 Finish the front face of the workbench end with the Line Tool. Be sure
your lines remain on the red and blue
axes. Use the inferences that SketchUp
shows to set the line lengths. That
is, stop the line where the inference
indicates. You should have a rectangle
measuring 165⁄ 8 in. wide and 4 in. high,
on the red–blue axis.
Select the Push/Pull Tool; note that
the Measurements Box is now labeled
“Distance.” Click on the front face of
the rectangle, but don’t hold down the

Figure 5. Drawing a 4-in.-long line on the
blue axis.

mouse button. Move the mouse so that
the Push/Pull Tool moves toward the
background. Notice how the values in
the Measurements Box change. Type
23⁄4 and press the Enter key. This will
produce a block representing the workbench end (Figure 6).
Use the Tape Measure Tool to check
the length, height, and depth. Select the
tool, place its tip on a corner of the
block, and click the mouse. Move to the
opposite corner; green dots will appear
at the corners, and a box below the
tool’s icon will show the measurement
for that edge. To use the tool as a tape
measure, tap the Ctrl key (Option on a
Mac); then you can click at both ends
of the measurement.
Step 4 Now you will create the large
rabbet on the top face and the tongue
on the end of the block. Begin by adding
guide lines to your model.
Select the Tape Measure Tool, click on
the top right edge, and move the mouse
right to left to start a Parallel Guide Line

on the top face. Type 3⁄ 8 and press the
Enter key to create the first top guide
line. It marks the length of the tongue.
Start another guide line. Repeat those
actions, beginning at the guide you
just placed. Type 21⁄ 2, and press the
Enter key to locate the second guide
line. It defines the top of the rabbet
(Figure 7).

Figure 7. Placing Parallel Guide Lines to fix
the location of a tongue and a rabbet.
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Step 5 Select the Line Tool and use it to
create two lines on the top face. Draw
over the two guide lines (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Lines drawn over the guide lines.

Step 6 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Click on
the narrow rectangle at the right end of the
top face. Use the tool to push that part of
the face downward, along the blue axis.
Type 11⁄ 2 and press the Enter key. This
creates the upper shoulder of the 3⁄8-in.deep tongue, as shown in Figure 9.
Use the Eraser Tool to delete the
two guide lines, which are no longer
needed. You can also remove the guide
lines by choosing Edit from the Menu
Bar, then clicking on Delete Guides in
the drop-down menu.
Step 7 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Click
on the area at the right of the top face.
Use the tool to push that part down by
typing 1⁄ 2 and pressing the Enter key
(Figure 10).

Figure 9. Using the Push/Pull tool to create
the upper face of the tongue.

Figure 10. Using the Push/Pull Tool to shape
the rabbet.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 11. A new Parallel Guide Line marks
the width of the tongue.

modeling, it is easier to use reference faces
than to type in a value. This completes the
tongue. Delete the guide line.

Figure 12. Using the Push/Pull Tool to
finish the tongue. Here, you hover the tool
over the face above the tongue to quickly
set the proper depth. That’s actually faster
than typing a value.

Step 8 Use the Tape Measure Tool
to create another Parallel Guide Line
1⁄ 2 in. down from the upper shoulder of
the tongue, as shown in Figure 11.

Step 10 This block has a 11⁄4-in.-diameter
hole for the shaft of the tail vise. To
draw the hole, begin by using the Tape
Measure Tool to place two Parallel Guide
Lines to locate the center. Place one guide
13⁄4 in. up from the bottom edge of the
block. Place the other 11⁄ 2 in. from the
right edge of the block. Type those values
(13⁄4 and 11⁄ 2) the Measurements Box, as
before (Figure 13).

Figure 13. Placing intersecting Parallel
Guide Lines to locate the center of a hole.

Step 9 Use the Line Tool to draw a line
over that guide line. Then select the Push/
Pull Tool and use it to select the lower
portion of the right face. Use the tool
to push that part of the face along the
red axis, from right to left. To end the
movement, use the existing upper surface
as a reference. That is, hover the Push/
Pull Tool over the existing upper surface,
then click the mouse to end the push/pull
movement (Figure 12). For this type of

Step 11 Select the Circle Tool. Fix the
center of the circle by clicking at the
intersection of the two guide lines. (A
label will appear to tell you that you’re
on the intersection.) Release the mouse
button and move the mouse to lengthen
the radius. Note that the Measurements
Box is now labeled “Radius.” Type 5⁄ 8
(half of 11⁄4 in., or the radius of the
hole), and press the Enter key (Figure
14). Delete the guide lines.

Figure 14. The Circle Tool placed over the intersection, ready to begin drawing the hole.
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Step 12 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Click
on the face of the circle, release the
mouse button, and move the mouse so
that the face of the circle moves to the
background. Click the Push/Pull Tool
on the back edge of the block. This will
end the movement on the back face
and create a hole that is open on both
sides, as shown in Figure 15. Use the
Orbit Tool to change your view so you
can see through the hole.

Step 13 A 3⁄8-in.-deep dado runs across
the bottom face of the piece, providing
a channel for a wooden guide in the vise
assembly. To create the dado, begin by
placing two Parallel Guide Lines on the
front face to define the width of the dado.
Use the Tape Measure Tool to place the
first guide line 41⁄8 in. from the right edge
of the piece. Place the second guide line 11⁄4
in. to the left of the first. The guide lines
should look like the ones in Figure 16.

Step 14 Select the Line Tool and use
it to draw the shape of the dado on
the front face. You will draw over
the guide lines. The first line can be
vertical, beginning at the bottom edge
and moving up 3⁄ 8 in. Start the line
upward on the blue axis, type 3⁄ 8, and
press the Enter key. Continue a line
from right to left along the red axis
over to the other guide line, then down
to the bottom edge (Figure 17). Delete
the guide lines.

Figure 19. Placing a Parallel Guide Line for
a cutout on the end of the piece.

Step 15 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Click
on the face of the dado, release the
mouse button, and move the mouse to
push the dado toward the background.
Click the Push/Pull Tool on the back
edge of the end piece. This ends the
push/pull movement and creates a
dado, as shown in Figure 18. Use the
Orbit Tool to change your view so you
can see through the dado.
Figure 15. Using the Push/Pull Tool to create
the hole. The “On Edge” label next to the tool
tells you when you’ve pushed far enough.

Figure 17. Drawing along the guides to create the profile of the dado.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 16. Two Parallel Guide Lines mark
the edges of a dado on the bottom of the
piece.

Figure 18. Using the Push/Pull Tool to shape
the dado.

Step 16 The left end of the piece has
a cutout. Use the Orbit Tool to move
close to the left end of the piece. Begin
creating the cutout by placing a Parallel
Guide Line 3⁄4 in. from the back edge, as
shown in Figure 19.

Figure 20. After drawing a line over the guideline, use the Push/Pull Tool to create the cutout.

Step 17 Select the Line Tool. Use it to
draw a vertical line over the guide line.
Select the Push/Pull Tool. Use it to push
the cutout to a depth of 1 in., as shown
in Figure 20. Delete the guide line.

Figure 21. Placing a Parallel Guide Line to
locate the top edge of a stopped groove on
the face of the piece.

Step 18 The remaining detail is a 3⁄8-in.deep groove in the front face of the piece.
Begin to draw it by using the Tape Measure

Tool to place a Parallel Guide Line 5⁄8 in.
down from the top of the left end of the
piece, as shown in Figure 21.
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Why Can’t I Get a Face?

Figure 22. Using the Line Tool to draw the
shape of the groove.

Figure 23. Use the Push/Pull Tool to make
the cutout for the groove. Type a value to give
the groove a precise length.

Step 19 Select the Line Tool. Use it to
draw the boundary of the groove, which
is 3⁄ 8 in. deep and 1⁄ 2 in. wide. Zoom
in close to the model, if necessary,
to better see what you are doing. As
before, move the Line Tool and type the
desired lengths. When you’ve finished,
the end of the piece should look like
the one shown in Figure 22.
Step 20 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Use
it to click on the shape of the groove,
then push left to right along the red
axis. Type 123⁄8 and press the Enter key.
This creates a stopped groove exactly
the right length, as shown in Figure 23.
Delete the guide line.
Congratulations! You have just created a
detailed, complex woodworking part.

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I suspect this has already happened to you: You’ve drawn a
nice shape, but the face will not appear. Don’t worry, this will
continue to happen, especially when you begin drawing complex
shapes. I’m in my fifth year with SketchUp, and it continues to
happen with every new piece I design. Often, it is just unexplainable, and you can’t figure out what caused the problem. You’ve
checked that all lines are indeed on-axis, so the shape seems to
be coplanar. Even so, the face will just not appear.
The quick fix is to draw a line over one of the edges, endpoint to endpoint (see Figure A). This is called “healing” and
will probably restore the face successfully. However, healing
doesn’t work every time. No matter how many times you draw
over the edges, nothing happens. What are some of the other
remedies you can try?
First, look at the model from several angles. SketchUp can
fool you. For example, in the front view shown in Figure B, the
rectangle looks perfect. However, when you use the Orbit Tool,
the problem becomes quite apparent. In this case, one vertical
edge is off at an angle, making a figure that isn’t coplanar. Use
your mouse with the Orbit, Zoom, and Pan Tools. Look at your
object from all angles to see if a line or an edge is off-axis.
The next step is to look for extra line segments that are in
the way of the face. In Figure C, I’ve shown two extraneous
line segments. No matter how many times you try to heal this
shape to create a face, it won’t work. These extra line segments are blocking the automatic creation of a face. Sometimes, the extra lines are very easy to see and erase. However,
often they are hidden next to a line you want to keep. It takes
close visual inspection to detect and delete such lines.
If those two steps don’t work, it is usually best to delete the
shape and start over. Occasionally, you will find that a component will have one good face, but you can’t get the back face to
close, as shown in Figure D. Use the Eraser Tool to delete the
thickness of the component, leaving only the front face. Then
use the Push/Pull Tool to re-create the component.

Figure A. When you’ve drawn
a shape but a face doesn’t appear, try drawing
over one of the lines. This “healing”often fixes the problem.

Figure B. From the front, this
rectangle looks right. But when
you use the Orbit Tool to look
at the side, you can see that
one side is off-axis.

Figure C. Sometimes,
extraneous lines interfere with a shape, so a
face won’t appear.

Figure D. When you get a shape with one good
face and one bad, it’s best to delete everything
but the good face and use the Push/Pull
Tool to re-create the
shape’s thickness.

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How to Make, Move, Copy, Edit,
and Connect Components

O

ne of SketchUp’s most important
features is the Make Component
function. Without it, you’d be
better off sketching by hand.
Woodworkers create, move, connect,
copy, and modify furniture or cabinet parts. Components are the SketchUp equivalent—legs, stretchers, tops,
drawer fronts, knobs, rails, stiles, panels,
slats, arms, seats, and so on. When you
add a mortise to a leg in SketchUp, you
are editing a component called “leg,”
which is an integrated object, not a bunch
of individual edges, lines, and graphical
entities. You can touch the leg (using the
Select Tool), move, copy, and change it
as if it were a real piece of wood.
Components are essential for success
in SketchUp. Without them, all you have
are a bunch of lines and faces that interact and interfere with one another.
There is no other way to work with the
model; you must create pieces (components) that represent each part of the
woodwork assembly.
Without components, you would not
be able to create an exploded view, like
the tea table shown in Figure 1. The
table consists of 8 uniquely defined
components and a total of 19 distinct
components or pieces. For example,
there is one leg component definition
and four instances (or copies) of it.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Not only do components make it possible to create the separate parts of a piece
of furniture, but they also add considerable speed, efficiency, and accuracy to
the modeling. When you make a change
to one copy of a component, the same
change instantly appears in all copies
of that component. For example, when
you add mortises to a leg to hold tenons
on a table apron, you need to draw the
mortises only once. All the other legs are
changed instantly and identically. I wish
that happened in the shop.
In a single SketchUp design file, I
generally have multiple copies of the
leg components within Orthographic,
Exploded, and Detail views. Modifying
a leg in any one of those views automatically modifies them all. That lets
me complete a design file and get to
the shop quickly.
SketchUp also lets you create groups,
which are similar to components but
not nearly as powerful or versatile. You
can group lines, edges, faces, and other
graphical entities into one integrated
item. You can copy and move these
groups within the design file. Groups
differ from components in one important
way: Copies of groups do not automatically update. I think that’s reason enough
to avoid using groups in woodworking
models. Use components instead.

Figure 1. The elements in this square tea table are components, the SketchUp equivalent of
pieces of wood that have been milled, shaped, and turned.

It’s best to create components right
up front when you begin a model, even
before the “piece of wood” is entirely
shaped with moldings, joints, or other
embellishments. This will make your
modeling more efficient and accurate.

How to Make a Component
In this example, you’ll make a simple leg
component. The steps are the same for
any component.

Draw a square leg, as shown in Figure
2. The one shown is 2611⁄16-in. long and
17⁄16-in. square, the overall size of the tea
table leg; you can make yours any size you
want. To make this a leg component, draw
a left-to-right Selection Box around all the
edges and faces that represent the leg. The
selected items will change to blue.
As shown in Figure 3, right-click on the
selection and choose Make Component
from the pop-up menu. This will open
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another box, as shown in Figure 4, asking
you to name the component. Enter a name
and click on the button labeled Create.
After creating the component, use the
mouse to click on it once. That selects
the entire object, not just a single line,
edge, or face. What you drew now represents a piece of wood that can be modified, moved, copied, and connected to
other components.

Move/Copy Tool

How to Move a Component

Figure 2. To begin
Figure 3. Right-click
making a compoon the selection to
nent, draw the item open a pop-up window.
you want, then draw
a left-to-right Selection Box around it.

Figure 4. To finish making a component,
give it a name in the new window, then click
the Create button.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

You move components around the
model with the Move/Copy Tool (Figure 5). When you use this tool, the cursor changes to a four-way arrow shape.
Here’s how this operation works.
Choose the Move/Copy Tool and move
the cursor over the leg component. This
automatically selects the component;
note how it changes to bright blue. Figure 6 shows the screen when I hovered
over the upper front corner of the leg.
SketchUp lets you know when you are
on the corner by displaying a label next
to the cursor that says “Endpoint in Component.” SketchUp also displays a magenta dot at the endpoint. I find that it’s
best to move a component by latching
on to one of its corners, especially when
you need to connect two components
corner to corner.
Click the mouse button (but don’t hold
the button down), and move the mouse.
See how the leg also moves in the direction of the mouse. You can move the
component on any of the axes. SketchUp will tell you when you are on-axis
by displaying a colored dotted line that
trails the component as you move it

Figure 5. Choosing the Move/Copy Tool
changes the cursor to a four-way arrow.

and by displaying a label, such as “On
Red Axis.” When you are satisfied with
the component’s new location, click the
mouse button to release the component
and stop its movement.
You can also use the Move/Copy Tool
to rotate a component on any one of
the three axes. Using the leg component as an example, zoom in close to the
top of the leg. Choose the Move/Copy
Tool and hover over the top face of the
component. Small red plus signs appear
on the top face, and a protractor icon
appears in the center when you hover
over one of the plus signs. The mouse
icon changes to a pair of chasing arrows,
indicating that the component will be
rotated (Figure 7).
Click and move the mouse. The leg
will rotate around its center on the blue
axis. For more precise rotation, type
an angle, which will show up in the
Measurements Box, and press Enter to
end the rotation. Or move the mouse
until you see the desired angle in the

Figure 6. When you hover the Move/Copy
Tool over a component, SketchUp shows you
with a magenta dot and a label when you’re
on an endpoint.

Figure 7. Hovering over a face with the
Move/Copy Tool changes the tool’s function
to allow you to rotate the component. You’ll
see a protractor and a new cursor appear
on the face.

Measurements Box and click the mouse
to end the rotation. SketchUp hesitates
at some angles, such as 90 and 180
degrees, making it easier to rotate to
commonly used values. You can also
place the Move/Copy Tool on any of
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the other leg faces and rotate the component around the green or red axis.
SketchUp has a dedicated Rotate Tool,
which is covered on page 71. The Rotate
Tool operates somewhat differently and
has more options. But for woodworking, the Move/Copy Tool can handle
most rotations.

How to Copy a Component
The Move/Copy Tool also allows you to
copy a component.
Choose the Move/Copy Tool and
hover over the original component. (If
that doesn’t automatically select the
component, use the Select Tool and
then choose the Move/Copy Tool again).
Press the keyboard Ctrl key (Option key
on the Mac). A small plus sign will ap-

pear next to the cursor, which tells you
that you are making a copy.
Click on the component and begin
to move the mouse. You will see a
copy move with the mouse. Click the
mouse button to stop the movement
of the copy.
You can move the copy on any of
the axes either by watching the dotted
path trailing the copy (Figure 8) or by
clicking the appropriate arrow key as
you begin the move.
When you pick the Move/Copy Tool,
the Measurements Box shows the changing distance of the move. The length
is the distance from one corner of the
original to the same corner of the copy.
To move a copy a precise distance, type
in the value, which will show up in the
Measurements Box. Press the Enter key
to place the copy where you want it.

Rough skirt, 47⁄16 in. × 221 ⁄ 8 in.

Figure 9. Use the Line Tool to draw a face that you will then make a component.

How to Edit a Component

Figure 8. Copying a component creates a
duplicate, which you can place anywhere in
the model. To place it precisely, type a value,
which appears in the Measurements Box.

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As you work on your design, you will
soon want to edit the components. Here’s
how. Begin by creating a new component, which you will then edit. For this
example, you’ll create the component that
will become a skirt for the tea table.
Make the component shown in Figure
9. Choose the Line Tool, click on the corner of the leg and draw a line along the
red axis 221⁄ 8 in. long. Continue a line
4 7⁄16 in. long, down along the blue axis.
Next, draw a line back along the red axis
until it intersects with the leg, then click
the mouse button to end the line. Continue to draw a line up along the blue axis
to close the face. You should see a blue
rectangle like the one shown in Figure 9.

Figure 10. Once you’ve created the new component, right-click on it to open a pop-up menu,
then choose Edit Component.

Make this shape a component. Doubleclick to select it. Then right-click on the
selection and choose Make Component
from the pop-up menu. When the next
window appears, name the component
and click the Create button. Now you
have a skirt component. In the next step,
you’ll edit the component to give it thickness. I’ll explain how to render the scroll
shape and joinery in Chapter 13.

To edit the skirt component, choose
the Select Tool and use the mouse to
click on the component’s face. That will
highlight it in blue. Right-click on the
component and select Edit Component
from the pop-up menu (Figure 10).
When you select Edit Component,
SketchUp places a dotted-line box
around the component. All other components are paled out. This tells you that
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Figure 11. Use the Push/Pull Tool to give the new component thickness. The dotted-line box
around the component indicates that it is the only component available for editing.

only the selected component is ready
to be edited. Choose the Push/Pull Tool
and push a thickness of 7⁄ 8 in. by typing 7⁄ 8 and then pressing the Enter key
(Figure 11). You’ll see the value appear
in the Measurements Box.
When you have finished editing the
component, right-click on an area of the
model away from the box around a selected component. This will open a small
pop-up box; choose Close Component
from the list. That will immediately close
the dotted-line box around the component, indicating that you are no longer
in an editing mode (Figure 12).

How to Connect
Components Accurately
Hands-on woodworking requires
pieces to be positioned precisely and
connected accurately, thus SketchUp
provides a way to position and connect
components precisely and accurately.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

In furniture making and woodworking
projects, separate pieces often connect
or intersect at corners. The same goes
in SketchUp; use the Move/Copy Tool
to snap components together at corners
or intersections. See how it works with
the two components you’ve created for
the tea table.
The top edge of the skirt is flush with
the top of the leg, and the front face of
the skirt is flush with the front face of the
leg. That means the top corners of those
two components are coincident when
connected. For precise positioning, find
matching connecting endpoints, corners,
or intersections. Then use the Move/
Copy Tool to connect the two points.
Choose the Move/Copy Tool and
use it to pull the skirt a short distance
away from its connection on the leg,
as shown in Figure 13. Now, reconnect
the two components precisely. Still using the Move/Copy Tool, click on the

Figure 12. To deselect the component, click the mouse anywhere outside the dotted-line box
and use the pop-up menu.

Figure 13. Move the skirt away from its connection to the leg. The dotted red line shows that
the component is moving on-axis.
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Figure 15. You can grab the midpoint of a component with the Move/Copy Tool. SketchUp provides a label to tell you when the cursor is in the right place.

Figure 14. Use the Move/Copy Tool to bring the two components together at the top corner
of the leg. SketchUp will recognize that the components should join there and automatically
position them.

top front corner of the skirt, which will
match up with the top corner of the
leg. Move the mouse (and therefore
the skirt) toward the leg. When you
get close to the corner, SketchUp will
recognize the connection and “grab”
the corner of the leg, bringing the corners of the two components together
precisely. Click the mouse to end the
movement (Figure 14).
Sometimes, you won’t have a common
connecting intersection. In those cases,
place a guide line or guide point where
you want the connection to occur on
one component. SketchUp will recognize a connection with a guide line or
guide point, just as it will with a corner.
Turned components don’t have handy

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

corners for connection. I often use centerlines to connect turned parts.
Often in furniture, mating pieces intersect along centerlines or midpoints.
You can connect components that way
in SketchUp. Suppose, for example, that
the center of the skirt must be positioned
at the center of the leg. Use the midpoint
of the top edge of the skirt to connect to
the midpoint of the leg.
Figure 15 shows the Move/Copy Tool
attached to the midpoint of the skirt.
SketchUp will always indicate that with
a label that reads “Midpoint in Component” as you drag the mouse over an
edge. Also note that the point inference
will change color when you place the
Move/Copy Tool at the midpoint.

Figure 16. You can connect components at their respective midpoints. SketchUp provides
labels to tell you when you’ve made the connection.

To connect the two components at
their centers, choose the Move/Copy
Tool and maneuver it to the midpoint
of the skirt. Then move the mouse
and skirt toward the center of the leg.

You’ll see the “Midpoint in Component” label when you reach the midpoint of the top edge of the leg, as
shown in Figure 16. Click the mouse
to end the move.
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Create Your
First SketchUp Model

I

t’s time to practice using SketchUp’s
basic drawing tools. You’ll create a
model of the magazine rack shown
in Figures 1 and 2. I’ve built more
than a dozen of these modular, stackable
racks to hold my library of woodworking
magazines. It’s a nice project and also a
good SketchUp practice model. The exercise will help you become adept in the
following essential SketchUp skills:
• Staying on axis.
• Drawing to precise lengths.
• Placing temporary guide lines.
• Building, editing, copying, and
connecting components.
• Using the Push/Pull Tool.
• Using the Arc Tool.

Figure 1. A simple modular magazine rack
makes a good SketchUp practice model.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

The exercise also shows you how to
develop a model as an integrated unit.
That is, you create and shape individual
components where they fit in the finished
piece, properly oriented horizontally and
vertically. This method of working saves
time by eliminating the need to make
many separate measurements. It also
helps you develop an accurate model.
Because this is the first complete modeling exercise, you may not get the results
you want the first time you try to draw a
shape or move a component. If that happens, back up and try again. If you're unsure about how to use a tool or execute
a command, flip back to the appropriate
chapter to refresh your memory.
Figure 3, on p. 30, is an orthographic
drawing that shows top, end, and front
views with overall dimensions. Print this
view and keep it nearby for reference
while you re-create the model.
Step 1 Use the Line Tool to create a
rectangle forming one edge of the side.
It’s easiest to draw on the green and blue
axes to make the rectangle the proper
height and width. Use the Push/Pull
Tool to make the piece 5⁄8-in. thick. Use
the Select Tool to draw a Selection Box
around the object, right-click, and choose
Make Component from the pop-up menu.
Name the component Side (Figure 4).

Top

Back panel

Divider

Bottom
shelf

Front apron

Side

Figure 2. The components of the magazine rack.

Step 2 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place a guideline along the red axis to
help you position a copy of the side
component. Use the Move/Copy Tool to
copy the side component and move it
into position on the guide line.
You also have to mirror the copy so
the joint details you’ll draw later will be
properly oriented on the inside face of
the side. The Flip Along function (see
“Flip Along Function” on p. 31), executes

this mirroring operation. To execute Flip
Along, right-click on the copied side,
then choose Flip Along Red Axis from
the pop-up menu (Figure 5).
Step 3 Using the Line and Push/Pull
Tools, create the top and bottom components in the same manner as you created the sides. Begin by creating the top
with the Line Tool: Draw over the overall
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⁄ "

5 8

Side

Use the
Line and
Push/
Pull Tools
to create
the side
component
but with no
joinery or
cutouts.

173 ⁄4"

911 ⁄16"

Figure 4. Begin by making the side component.
1. Place a guide line 145 ⁄16 in.
from the outer edge of the
side component.
2. Copy the
component
and position
its outside
edge on the
guide line.
Then use the
Flip Along
function on
the red axis
to mirror the
component.
145 ⁄16"

Figure 3. Front, side, and top views of the magazine rack.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 5. Copy the side component and flip
it so that the joinery you add later will be
properly oriented.
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The Flip Along Function
The Flip Along function is one of the most confusing for newcomers to SketchUp.
But it’s a feature that’s hard to avoid in woodworking because we continually flip,
or mirror, components in our furniture. For example, all four legs of a table may be
identical except for the orientation of the joinery. Using the Flip Along function on
copies of one leg component mirrors them so that each is properly oriented in the
overall design. It’s extremely powerful and time-saving to draw only one leg
design, then copy and flip it to create a full complement of legs, all with joinery
properly oriented. If I edit any one of the leg components, all the copies are
instantly updated with the change, and the changes will be properly oriented.
SketchUp’s Rotate Tool is not a substitute for the Flip Along function. A rotation does not mirror a component, so it won’t produce a component with properly oriented details.
There is a choice to make every time you use the Flip Along function: Do you
flip along the red, green, or blue axis? It’s not always clear which one to choose.
The Flip Along function is executed on the component’s axis, which is
based on its orientation when first created. You can check the component’s
axis by checking a box in SketchUp at Window > Model Info > Components >
Show Component’s Axis.
You can avoid much of the confusion about axes by creating components in
their actual position within the model. In the case of the magazine rack, you
create one side in its proper position and position the copy along the same axis
so that it, too, is properly oriented. Thus, since you move the copied side along
the red axis, you execute the Flip Along function along the red axis, too.

side top edges of the side components.
Then use the Push/Pull Tool to make the
top 5⁄ 8-in. thick. The top will overlap the
sides at the joint locations. Draw a Selection Box around the top and, as you
did with the side, make it a component
and name it Top. Use the Tape Measure
Tool to place a guide line 43⁄ 8 in. from
the bottom of one side. Use that guide
line to draw the front edge of the bottom
component, then use the Push/Pull Tool
to make it 911⁄ 16-in. deep. As with the

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

top component, be sure this one overlaps the sides. When you are finished,
draw a Selection Box around the part,
make it a component, and name it Bottom (Figure 6).
Step 4 The next step is to create the
tongue-and-groove joints in the side,
top, and bottom components.
Zoom in close to the upper right corner, as shown in Figure 7. Place guide
lines with the Tape Measure Tool to

1. Make the
top component
so that it
overlaps the
sides.
2. Place a guide
line to locate
the top edge of
the bottom shelf
component.

4 3 ⁄ 8"

Figure 6. Make the basic
shapes for the top and
bottom shelf components.
You’ll add joinery later.

3. Draw the bottom shelf component.

⁄"

14

⁄ "

3 16

1. Place guide lines
to define the width
and depth of the
tongue on the side
component and the
groove in the top
component that
holds the tongue.

2. Use the Line Tool
to trace over the
guide lines to make
the tongue on the
side component.
3. Use the Push/Pull
Tool to remove
waste on the side.

show the height and width of the groove
in the top component. Use the Line Tool
to trace over the guide lines to form the
tongue and shoulder on the side component. Then use the Push/Pull Tool to
remove the waste; hover over the waste
portion, then click the mouse, move the
cursor to the back edge of the component, and click again.

Figure 7. Creating joints
involves selecting one component, using the Line and
Push/Pull Tools to create
half the joint, selecting the
adjacent component, and
creating the mating half.

Click on the side component to select
it and pick Edit Component from the
pop-up menu. Use the Line Tool to trace
over the guide lines to make the tongue
shape. If you've drawn this half of the
joint correctly, only the waste portion
will be highlighted when you hover over
it with the Select Tool or the Push/Pull
Tool. Then use the Push/Pull Tool to
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clear out the waste, forming the tongue
along the top edge of the side. Zoom
out and you will see that both sides now
have a tongue; and because you flipped
the copy to mirror it, the tongues on
both sides are properly oriented.
Next, select the top component and
choose Edit Component from the popup menu. Use the Line Tool to trace over
the tongue to begin creating its mating
groove. Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
the groove all the way to the back edge.
The easiest way to remove all the waste
is to click on the back edge of the component with the Push/Pull Tool; no need
to type in a dimension.
Repeat those actions to complete the
tongue and groove joint at the opposite
end of the top component.
Repeat those actions two more times
to make the tongue-and-groove joints on
the bottom and side components. The
procedures are the same, but as Figure
3 shows, the tongue and groove are oriented differently.
Step 5 Right-click the side component
and choose Edit Component from the
pop-up menu. Use the Tape Measure
Tool to place guidelines that will help
you shape the ogee cutout on the side
components. Follow the dimensions
shown in Figure 8.
Use the Line Tool to draw an angled line
along the path of the ogee curves. Use
the Arc Tool to draw two arcs from the
endpoints to the midpoint of the angled
line, as shown in Figure 8. Apply a 3⁄16-in.
bulge to each arc. (As you begin moving
the cursor, type 3/16 to set the bulge.)

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Use the Line Tool to draw the straight
horizontal and vertical lines to complete
the shape, as described in Figure 8.

1. Place horizontal and vertical
guide lines to locate boundaries
and intersections for the ogee
shape. Add a guideline for the
side component’s centerline.

Step 6 Use the Eraser Tool to delete
the angled line on the path of the ogee
curve. Use the Move/Copy Tool to copy
the shape you just drew (Figure 9).
Step 7 Use the Flip Along function to
mirror the copy of the shape. Then use
the Move/Copy Tool to connect the copied shape to the original one at the centerline. Zoom in close to be sure that the
two shapes connect on the centerline at
the base of the component. Double-click
the mouse on the half shape, right-click
on the selection, and choose Make Component from the pop-up menu. In the
Make Component pop-up box, do not
check the box that says “replace selection
with component.” Name it Ogee Shape.
This component will be used later for
shaping the front skirt component (Figure 10). SketchUp automatically saves the
component; you can easily retrieve it and
use it later to help shape the front skirt.

31 ⁄4"
11 ⁄8"

17⁄16"

3. Draw a
pair of arcs
along the
angled line,
giving each
arc a 3 ⁄16-in.
bulge.

23 ⁄4"

2. Draw a line from
the bottom edge
to the beginning of
the ogee. Add an
angled line for the
length of the ogee,
then a horizontal
line from the top
of the ogee to the
side component’s
centerline. Finish
with a vertical line
along the centerline
back to the bottom
edge of the
component.

Figure 8. You need to draw only one ogee-shaped cutout. You copy and flip it to add the rest
to the model.
1. Use the Eraser Tool to
delete the angled line.

Step 8 Use the Eraser Tool to delete
the centerline, then use the Push/Pull
Tool to push out the center of the cutout
(Figure 11).
Step 9 Use the Line Tool to draw the
boundary of the front skirt, as shown in
Figure 12. Then use the Push/Pull Tool
to make the skirt 5⁄8-in. thick.
Step 10 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place guide lines on the front skirt, as

3. Copy of the
ogee shape.
2. Double-click in the center of the ogee
shape, then use the Move/Copy Tool to copy
it and move it to the right.

Figure 9. Clean up the ogee shape and copy it.
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1.Double-click on the copy of the ogee
shape and use the Flip Along function
on the green axis. Use the Move/Copy
Tool to connect the copy to the original
at the centerline.

2.Double-click on this ogee
shape and make it a component
named Scroll Shape. Save the
component so you can use it later to
create ogee curves on the front skirt.

Delete the centerline, then
use the Push/Pull Tool
to remove waste, leaving
identical ogee curves.

Figure 10. Flip the copy of the ogee shape
and connect it to the original.

Figure 11. Complete the ogee curves on the
side components.

shown in Figure 13, to help you position
the ogee shape cutout. Open the Component Dialog Box (click on Window
in the Menu Bar and pick Components
from the menu), and click on the ogee
shape component created in step seven.
Hover over the top edge of the ogee
shape component. Move the mouse over
one of the plus signs, and a protractor
will appear. Click the mouse and start
the rotation. Click again when the component has rotated 90 degrees. To rotate
the shape successfully, you may have
to orbit around so that you're looking
down on it; zoom in close for a good
view. Hover as slowly as you can until
the plus signs appear.

sition on the guide line. Copy the shape
and use the Flip Along function to orient
and position the copy on the other guide
line. Now, you need to make the ogee
shape components a part of the front
skirt component. To do that you have to
explode, or un-make them as separate
componments, then make a new, combined component. Right-click on each
ogee shape component and choose Explode from the pop-up menu. Right-click
on the front skirt component and choose
Explode from the pop-up menu. Use the
Select Tool to select all of the front skirt,
including the two shapes. Right-click on
the selection and choose Make Component from the pop-up menu. Name the
component Front Skirt, and check the
box to replace the previous component
definition (Figure 14).

Step 11 Use the Move/Copy Tool to
move the ogee shape component into po-

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Use the Line Tool to draw the
face of the front skirt, then Use
the Push/Pull Tool to make it 5 ⁄ 8 in.
thick. Make this face a component.

Figure 12. Draw the rough shape of the front skirt.

1. Open the
ogee shape
component
and rotate it so
that it is on the
same axis as
the front skirt.

113 ⁄16"
2. Place guide lines to
help you position the
ogee shapes precisely.

113 ⁄16"

Figure 13. Add ogee curves to the front skirt.

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Step 12 Open the front skirt component
for editing. Complete the cutout on the
front by using the Line Tool to add a
horizontal line connecting the two ogee
shapes. Then use the Push/Pull Tool to
remove the waste.
Use the Tape Measure Tool to place
guide lines that define the width and
depth of the partition grooves in the
bottom component. Use Figure 3 and
Figure 15 to find the proper dimensions. Use the Line Tool to outline the
shape of the grooves on the front edge
of the bottom component. Then use the
Push/Pull Tool to push out the grooves
to the back edge of the component.
Repeat these steps to make the grooves
in the top component.

Step 13 With the Line Tool, draw the
front face of the partition so that it fills
the front of the grooves on the top and
bottom components, as shown in Figure
16. Double-click on the shape to select it,
then right click and choose Make Component from the pop-up menu. Name the
component Partition.
Step 14 Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
the partition component to the same
depth as the bottom component. Place
guide lines for the endpoints of the cutout in the partition, as shown in Figure
17. Then select the Arc Tool and use it
to draw an arc that has a 3⁄4-in. bulge
between the guide lines on the side of
the partition.

1. Draw guide lines to define the
width, depth, and spacing of the
grooves. Draw over the guide lines
on the front of the bottom component,
then use the Push/Pull Tool to push
out the grooves. Repeat for the top.

3 1 ⁄ 8"

2. Draw a line to connect
the scroll shapes, delete
the vertical lines, then
use the Push/Pull Tool
to remove waste.

Figure 15. Finish the front skirt and add grooves in the top and the bottom shelf.

Draw the
front edge of
one partition.
Make it a
component.

Copy the ogee shape component, use
the Flip Along function to mirror it, and position
the copy on the corresponding guide line. Double-click
the ogee shapes and the front skirt, choose Explode, then
make the selected items a new component.

Figure 14. Complete the ogee curves on the front skirt.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 16. Begin drawing
the partition component.
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1. Place guidelines to define the width of the
rabbets. Draw lines for the stopped rabbet on
the top component, then use the Push/Pull
Tool to create the stopped rabbet.

1"
1. With the
partition
component open
for editing, use
the Push/Pull Tool
to make it the
same depth as
the bottom shelf.

2. Draw the line
for the rabbet
in the side
component.
Again, use the
Push/Pull Tool
to create that
rabbet.

⁄"

34

2. Place guide
lines to help
you locate the
endpoints of the
arc cutout. Draw
the arc, giving it a
3 ⁄4-in. bulge.

1"

Use the Push/Pull tool
to remove waste and define the curve.
Then use the Move/Copy Tool to copy
the partition twice and place the
copies in their grooves.

Figure 17. Begin shaping the partition.

Figure 18. Complete and copy the partition.

Step 15 Use the Push/Pull Tool to create the arc cutout in the partition. Use
the Move/Copy Tool to make two copies
of the partition and place them in their
grooves (Figure 18).

a line for the rabbet on the full length
of the piece, and use the Push/Pull Tool
to push it to the proper depth. Use the
Push/Pull Tool to push the back edge of
the bottom piece 1⁄4 in., to align with the
rabbet in the side component. Do the
same to push one of the partitions back
to align with the bottom component—
changing all three partitions (Figure 19).

Step 16 Use the Orbit Tool to view the
back of the model. Use the Tape Measure
Tool to place guide lines on the top and
side components, marking the width of
a rabbet for the back panel. (It will be
a stopped rabbet on the top.) Refer to
Figure 3, and select the top component.
Use the Line Tool to place lines for the
stopped rabbet joint. Use the Push/Pull
Tool to push the rabbet to its 1⁄4-in. depth.
Similarly, select a side component, draw

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Step 17 Use the Line Tool to draw the
face of the back panel, fitted inside the
rabbet. Make it a component and name it
Back Panel. Edit the component and use
the Push/Pull Tool to make it 1⁄4 in. thick
(Figure 20). This completes the model of
the modular magazine rack.

4. Push the
back edge of the
partitions in 1 ⁄4 in.

3. Use the Push/
Pull Tool to push
the back edge of
the bottom shelf
in 1 ⁄4 in.

Figure 19. Rabbet the top and side components to house the back panel.

Use the Line Tool to
draw one face of the
back panel, fitted into
the rabbets. Then use
the Push/Pull Tool to
make it 1 ⁄4 in. thick.

Figure 20. Create the back
panel and you’re done.

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How to Design
and Construct Joints

S

ketchUp gives you the ability
to quickly and accurately detail
woodworking joints. That’s a great
advantage. Woodworkers spend
much of their shop time sawing, chopping, routing, drilling, shaping, shaving,
and fitting joints. An inaccurate joint design inevitably leads to frustrating rework.
But when you design joints in SketchUp,
you can inspect their details from any
angle. Any discrepancies or poorly fitting

The Right Time
to Detail Joints
I find it best to postpone drawing
joint details until I have the basic
overall assembly of component
pieces in place. This is particularly true when developing a new
piece of furniture. Work out the
overall proportions and the sizes of
components first. Just butt pieces
together temporarily, then add the
joint details.
If you try to draw joints at an
earlier stage of development, it
will be harder to adjust component
sizes and thicknesses. Premature
design of joints will leave you with
more rework.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

parts will quickly be apparent. SketchUp
even has an X-Ray capability, allowing
you to look inside a joint.
Once you have designed a joint, you
can use SketchUp to produce full-size
templates. I find that I make fewer errors in the shop if I work with templates.
They are especially helpful when making dowel or dovetail joints.
In this chapter, I’ll show you how to use
SketchUp to create mortise-and-tenon and
dovetail joints. You can use the procedures
you learn here to create other joints, such
as bridle and tongue and groove.

Figure 1. The mortise-and-tenon joint you’ll duplicate in this chapter.

The Mortise-and-Tenon Joint
There must be hundreds of variations on
the mortise-and-tenon joint: haunched,
two shoulders, no shoulders, blind,
through, wedged, pegged, and so on.
You can create any of those variations in
SketchUp with the procedures and tools
shown in this exercise.
We’ll use the skirt and leg for the square
tea table in Chapter 6. If you didn’t save
those drawings, redo them now.
The tenon is 1⁄4 in. thick, centered on the
end of the skirt, and 3⁄4 in. long, with a 1⁄ 2-in.
shoulder at the top edge (Figure 1).
Step 1 Select the Tape Measure Tool and
click on the front vertical edge of the skirt.
(You don’t have to select or edit the skirt

Figure 2. Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place a guide line at the midpoint of the
skirt component.

Figure 3. Place two guides on either side
of the centerline to define the thickness of
the tenon.

component to place these temporary
guidelines; you’ll erase them later.) Move
the guide line along the green axis, toward
the center of the skirt. As Figure 2 shows,
you’ll see a point appear where you clicked
on the edge, and a green dotted line to
show that you’re on the green axis. As you
move the guide line toward the center of
skirt, hover the mouse over the midpoint. A

magenta inference point will appear when
you are exactly on the midpoint. Click the
mouse to place the guide line.
Use the Tape Measure Tool to place
two additional guide lines 1 ⁄ 8 in. to
each side of the midpoint guide line, as
shown in Figure 3. Be sure you move the
tool along the green axis. To place the
guide lines precisely, type 1⁄ 8 and press
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the Enter key. These guide lines indicate
the thickness of the tenon.
Place one additional guide line, to define the tenon height. Use the Tape Measure Tool to click on the top edge of the
1
skirt and place a guideline ⁄ 2 in. down
from the top (Figure 4).
Step 2 Right-click on the skirt component
and choose Edit Component from the
pop-up menu. (Note that the guide lines
become pale once you select the component. That’s because anything that’s not
part of the component you are editing
is faded out.) Use the Line Tool to trace
over the guide lines, drawing the boundary of the tenon, as shown in Figure 5.
SketchUp will flag intersections to help
you place the lines accurately. A typical
mistake is to forget the Edit Component
step and build the tenon in place but
not as part of the component. Everything
will look normal. But when you move
the skirt component, the tenon will stay
behind. Or when you copy the skirt, the
copy will not have the tenon.
Step 3 Choose the Push/Pull Tool.
Hover over the tenon shape, and notice
how it’s highlighted with a pattern of blue
dots. Click the mouse and begin pulling
the tenon outward. To quickly make the
tenon the proper length, type 3⁄4, which
will appear in the Measurements Box,
and press the Enter key (Figure 6).
One skirt tenon is complete. Now, an
identical tenon needs to be added to the
other end of the skirt. You could repeat
the drawing steps, but it’s faster to copy
this tenon and paste it on the skirt.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 4. Place one more guide line to define
the height of the tenon.

Figure 5. Use the Line Tool to trace over
the guide lines.

Figure 7. Draw a left-to-right Selection Box
to highlight the tenon so you can copy it.

Figure 8. Use the Move/Copy Tool to copy the tenon and move it past the opposite end of the
skirt component.

Step 4 Right-click on the skirt component and choose Edit Component from
the pop-up menu. Select only the tenon
by using the Select Tool to draw a leftto-right box around the tenon and the
end of the skirt component, as shown in

Figure 7. The selection will also take in
the end face of the skirt, which is fine.
Step 5 Choose the Move/Copy Tool and
push the Ctrl key (Option key on the Mac)
to make a copy of the tenon. You’ll see

Figure 6. Use the Push/Pull Tool to give the
tenon the proper length.

a plus sign next to the cursor, indicating
that you’re copying something. Click on the
tenon and move the copy to the right, along
the red axis. Click the mouse to stop the
movement of the copy just beyond the right
end of the skirt, as shown in Figure 8.
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Figure 10. The tenon once it has been
flipped along its red direction.

Figure 11. The tenon copy moved into place.
Once its position is fixed with the Move/Copy
Tool, it becomes part of the skirt component.

Figure 9. The pop-up menus that lead you to the Flip Along function, which lets you mirror a
copy so that it is oriented properly in the model.

Step 6 Now you have to orient the copied tenon properly. As shown in Figure 9, right-click on the copied tenon.
Choose Flip Along from the pop-up
menu. This will open a second menu,
listing the three axis directions. Click on
Red Direction. This will immediately flip
the tenon copy to its proper orientation,
as shown in Figure 10.
Step 7 Select the Move/Copy Tool, grab
the corner of the tenon copy, and connect it to the corresponding corner of
the skirt, as shown in Figure 11. Click the
mouse to fix the location of the copied
tenon. You may wonder what happens

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

to the duplicated face of the skirt end
that accompanied the tenon. SketchUp
automatically eliminates duplicate faces.
You may need to fill in a missing face,
however. See Figure 10.
Step 8 Now that the tenon is complete,
you’re ready to make the matching mortise in the leg. There are many ways to
do that, but I think it’s best to use the
tenon to make the mortise. This method
greatly reduces the risk of errors and
forces the mortise to match precisely
with the tenon.
Use the Move/Copy Tool to attach a
corner of the skirt to the corresponding

Figure 12. X-Ray View opens up the components so you can see through them. This feature
lets you use the boundary of the tenon, which would normally be hidden, to trace the outline
of the mortise.
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Figure 13. In X-Ray View, you can use the Push/Pull Tool to make otherwise out-of-sight
parts of a joint the proper size. Here, you can click on the back edge of the tenon to set the
depth of the mortise.

corner of the leg, as shown in Figure 12.
Right-click on the leg component and
choose Edit Component from the popup menu. Click on the X-Ray icon in the
horizontal Face Style Toolbar at the top
of the screen.
Step 9 Zoom in close to the model. Note
how in the X-Ray view the boundary
of the tenon, where it intersects with
the face of the leg, shows up as a thin
white line (Figure 12). Use the Line Tool
to draw four lines tracing the boundary
of the tenon.

Figure 14. The finished mortise-and-tenon
joint. By using the tenon to shape the mortise, you can be sure the halves of the joint
align perfectly.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Step 10 Select the Push/Pull Tool. Click
on the rectangle you just drew, and push
it backward to create the mortise (Figure 13). To make the mortise the proper
depth, click on the back edge of the
tenon to stop the movement. Deselect

Figure 15. This Shaker blanket chest makes a good piece for practicing how to make
dovetail joints in SketchUp.

the leg component by right-clicking on
the screen outside the boundary of the
component, and deselect X-Ray from the
Face Style Menu. Move the skirt away
from the leg and view the finished mortise, as shown in Figure 14.

The Dovetail Joint
The Shaker blanket chest shown in Figure 15 uses dovetail joints throughout:
in the carcase, the base, the drawer,
and the till. I’ll show you how to use

SketchUp to make the through-dovetails
in the carcase. You can use the same
procedures for other variations of the
dovetail joint.
There are numerous plug-ins for
SketchUp that create dovetails automatically, but I don’t use them. The ones I’ve
seen limit the options for shape and layout. I think it’s better to learn how to
render dovetail joints from scratch. That
will advance your skills and benefit your
overall modeling capability and speed.
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In this exercise, you’ll duplicate the
dovetail joint in the front corner of the
chest’s carcase, as shown in Figure 16.
You’ll draw pin shapes, which are actually the spaces between the tails. Then
you’ll use the tails to shape the pins. Figure 17 gives the important dimensions.

Figure 16. You will duplicate the dovetails
on the carcase, shown in the foreground.

Step 1 Create a front component 14 in.
wide by 40 in. long by 3⁄4 in. thick, with its
face on the red axis. Create a side component 23 in. wide by 193⁄4 in. long by 3⁄4 in.
thick, with its face on the green axis. Con-

nect the two components at their outside
corners, as shown in Figure 18.
Step 2 Locate the center of the top and
bottom pins. This will help space the
pins. Use the Tape Measure Tool to create
two guidelines on the front component,
one 11⁄8 in. down from the top edge and
another up 1⁄4 in. from the bottom edge
(Figure 18). These mark the midpoint of
the top and bottom pins.
Step 3 Use the Line Tool to draw a line
along the blue axis between the two
guide lines, as shown in Figure 19. Rightclick on the line and choose Divide from
the pop-up menu. Hover the mouse over
the line and watch the number of divisions change as you move along the blue
axis. Tap the mouse when you reach the
desired number of segments. I stopped at
seven, as shown in Figure 20. This gives
me eight nodes for locating the pins. (The
bottom pin is actually a half-pin.)

Figure 18. Connect the two components at
their outside corners, so that they overlap.
Then draw two guide lines to help you locate
the pins and tails.

Step 4 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place guide lines that outline the pin
size. I like to have pin widths that fit
my chisel sizes, so I’ve chosen to make
the throat of the pin 1⁄4 in. wide and the
wide portion of the pin 1⁄ 2 in. wide. That
requires four guide lines in all: two that
are 1⁄ 8 in. on either side of the midpoint,
and two that are 1⁄4 in. on either side
of the midpoint. Place these guide lines
around the guide line near the top of the
front component (Figure 21).

Figure 17. The key dimensions for the dovetails.

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FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Step 5 Right-click on the front component and choose Edit Component from

Figure 19. Draw a line and divide it into segments. You’ll use the divisions to place copies
of the pin shapes quickly and precisely.
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Placing Guide Lines with the Protractor Tool

Figure 20. A pop-up window tells you how many
divisions you have selected and the length of
each division. You change the number by
moving the mouse up and down the line.

Figure 22. Use the Line Tool and the guide
lines and outline the pin shape.

41

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 21. Place a series of guide lines to
define the basic pin shape.

Figure 23. Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
out the pin shape in the front component.
Click on the edge of the component to stop
the movement.

The Protractor Tool is just below the Tape Measure Tool in the vertical toolbar. When you select it, the cursor changes to a circular protractor shape.
To use the tool to place angled guide lines on the front component of the
Shaker blanket chest, hover over the face; the protractor will appear green.
That’s because the front component is on the red–blue axis, so the rotation will
occur on the green axis. (If you orbit to the top of the component and hover over
it with the Protractor Tool, its color will be blue; that’s because the top face is
on the red–green axis.)
To place an angled guide line, click the Protractor Tool on the edge of the
component, as shown in Figure A. Move the mouse from right to left along
the face; be sure the dotted line trailing
the cursor is red, indicating that you’re onaxis. Click the mouse to begin the rotation.
Move the mouse upward, type 9.5, and
press the Enter key. This ends the rotation
and places a guide line at a 9.5-degree
angle. Make a similarly angled guide line at
the lower part of the dovetail. Then use the
Line Tool to trace over these guide lines.
Like its real counterpart, the Protractor
Tool is useful for measuring angles. Simply
Figure A. With the Protractor Tool
anchored at an intersection of two
click the Protractor Tool on the origin of
lines, move the mouse away from
the angle, click the mouse on one leg of
the intersection, then move it to
the angle, then click on the other leg of the
rotate the guide line. For a precise
angle. The value will be displayed in the
measurement, type the number of
degrees and press the Enter key.
Measurements Box.

the pop-up menu. Use the Line Tool to
draw the outline of the first pin, using
the guideline intersections as endpoints
(Figure 22).
The angle of this dovetail is about
9.5 degrees, which is a ratio of 1:6. Because I try to work out dovetail sizes
that fit my chisels, I’m not aiming for
a specific angle. But if you do, use the

Protractor Tool to place the guidelines
for the dovetail shape. For details, see
“Placing Guide Lines with the Protractor
Tool,” above.
Step 6 Choose the Push/Pull Tool, hover
over the pin shape, click the mouse, and
push the shape back along the green axis.
Click the mouse on the back edge of the
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front component to stop the movement.
The process is shown in Figure 23. This
step creates an open gap in the front component, which will accept the pin that you
will make later on the side component. Go
ahead and separate the two components
using the Move Tool, as shown in Figure
24. You can see the dovetail-shaped gap
that you produced.

Figure 24. When you separate the two components, you can see that you’ve created a space
for a pin in the front component.

Figure 25. Carefully draw a left-to-right
Selection Box to highlight the parts that
define the pin space.

42

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 26. Use the Move/Copy Tool to grab the
selected pin space at the midpoint. SketchUp
will tell you when you’ve found the right spot.

Step 7 Now you can copy the pin shape
to all the other positions down the edge
of the front component. Right-click on
the component and choose Edit Component from the pop-up menu. Use the
Select Tool to select all of the graphics
for the pin by drawing a left-to-right Selection Box around it, as shown in Figure 25. Be sure the box is large enough
to cover the graphics on the back face
of the pin shape. (Use the Orbit Tool
to be sure.) But don’t make the box so
big that it picks up other edges or faces
in the front component.
Choose the Move/Copy Tool and click
on the midpoint of the pin shape (Figure 26). Then press the Ctrl key (Option
key on the Mac) to make a copy. Begin
to move the copy down along the blue
axis. Push the Down or Up Arrow key to
constrain the move along the blue axis.
Move the mouse over to the divided
line. The copied pin shape will stay onaxis. When the mouse reaches a division
point in the line, the inference point will
change from red to green and a text flag
reading “Constrained on Line from Point”
will indicate that you’ve reached a division point (Figure 27). Click the mouse to
fix the position of the copied pin shape.

Figure 27. Copy the pin shape and move it
down along the blue axis. Hover the mouse
over the divided line until a SketchUp window appears to tell you that you’ve found a
division point. That’s where you’ll fix the position of the copied shape.

Figure 28. Place additional copies so that
their midpoints fall on the other divisions of
the divided line.
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Step 8 Continue placing copies at each
of the line division points. The final pin
placement is made at the endpoint of the
divided line, as shown in Figure 28. The
bottom pin is a half-pin, which requires
some cleanup. Use the Push/Pull Tool
to push out the pin shape and the small
waste wedge, as shown in Figure 29.
Step 9 Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
out waste from the other pin locations.
Once you’ve pushed one and clicked
on the back edge, use this shortcut to
clear waste from the rest: Double-click
with the Push/Pull Tool on the remaining pin locations. You should now have
a front component that looks like the
one shown in Figure 30.
Figure 29. Push out the waste, including the
little sliver at the bottom.

Figure 30. This is how the completed tails
should look on the front component.

Figure 33. Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
out the tail shape.

Step 10 Use the tails in the front component to shape the pins on the side component. With the Move/Copy Tool, join
the two components at their top outside
corners, as shown in Figure 31.
Step 11 Right-click on the side component and choose Edit Component from
the pop-up menu. Use the Line Tool to
trace over each angled edge of the pins,
as shown in Figure 32.

Figure 31. Use the Move/Copy Tool to reconnect the two components so that you can
use the tails to shape the pins.

43

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 32. With the side component selected
for editing, use the Line Tool to draw over the
pin shapes on the edge of the component.

Step 12 Use the Push/Pull Tool to push
out the tail shape. Click on the back
edge of the front component to stop the
push (Figure 33). Double-click the Push/
Pull Tool on each of the remaining tail
shapes to remove the waste. Figure 34
shows the final joint after moving the
two components apart with the Move/
Copy Tool. You can copy and paste the

Figure 34. This is what the finished dovetail
joint should look like.

pins to the opposite ends of the respective components, as you did with the
tenon earlier in the chapter. Remember
to use the Flip Along function to orient
the copied pins and tails properly.
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How to Begin and Develop
a Piece of Furniture

N

ow that we’ve covered the basic tools and steps in creating
a SketchUp design, here’s how
to put it all together to create a
design for a piece of furniture.
This chapter takes you from start to finish in designing the small table shown in
the photo at right. It’s one of the pieces
in the Furniture Treasury by Wallace
Nutting. In the book, Nutting provides
only this cursory description: “Chamfered
Posts. Top Gouge Carved. 1700. From
Churchill Family. Newington, Connecticut.
At Wadsworth Atheneum. George Dudley
Seymour.” When I first built this, there
were no dimensions provided. I guessed
at the height, and from that worked out
the other dimensions. Since then, I found
another reference document provided by
the Connecticut Historical Society. That
book says the table is 281⁄ 2 in. high and
the top is 28 in. by 20 in. My guesses
weren’t that far off.
Before we get started, remember that
it’s important to begin with the proper
setup procedure: A default template
with appropriate SketchUp settings for
woodworking, including units, dimension styles, edge profiles, background,
and toolbars.
Figure 1 gives dimensions for the
table, and Figure 2 is an exploded view
of the components you will be creating.

44

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Print those images so you can refer to
them as needed as you build your own
SketchUp design.

Roughing out the Legs
Step 1 Create one rough leg, using the
Line and Push/Pull Tools (Figure 3).
To generate accurate sizes, type actual
lengths, which appear in the Measurements Box. Make the shape a component and name it Leg. You’ll add the
chamfers and mortises later.
Step 2 Copy the leg component and
place it in position. Use the Tape Measure Tool to place a guide line to locate
the right front leg. Use the Move/Copy
Tool to copy the left leg and move it
along the red axis until it connects with
the guide line. (To stay on the red axis,
push the right arrow key or hold the
Shift key). Right-click on the copy of the
leg component and choose Flip Along
Red Axis from the pop-up menus to mirror the copy (Figure 4).

I’ve made several copies of
this 18th-century chamferedpost table working from
detailed plans I created in
SketchUp. The version shown
here is painted sugar pine.

Step 3 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place another guide line along the green
axis to locate the rear legs. Select and
copy the two front legs to create the
rear legs. Use the Flip Along function
along the green axis to mirror the rear
legs (Figure 5).
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Figure 1. Overall
dimensions for the
chamfered-post table.

45

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

Figure 2. An exploded
view of the table, naming
the main components.
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1. Place a guide line
191 ⁄ 8 in. from outside
edge of the left leg.
1. Use the Line Tool to
draw a 11 ⁄4-in. × 11 ⁄4-in.
square.
2. Use the Push/Pull
Tool to pull the leg up
to a height of 261 ⁄ 2 in.

2. Copy the left leg
and move it along the
red axis until it snaps
to the guide line.
261 ⁄ 2"

3. Draw a Selection
Box around the leg,
right-click, and choose
Make Component.

3. Right-click the copy
and use the Flip Along
function.

191 ⁄ 8"

Figure 3. Rough out the leg component.

Figure 4. Copy the leg component and place
it in position.

Rough Out the
Stretcher Components

Step 5 Use the Move/Copy Tool to copy
the stretchers so that all four legs are
connected. After you have moved each
stretcher, use the Flip Along function to
mirror it. You should have four stretchers
in position, as shown in Figure 7.

Step 4 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
draw a guide line 49⁄16 in. from the bottom of a leg to locate the bottom of the
lower stretcher. Beginning at that point,
use the Line Tool to draw the lower
front stretcher in position between the
legs. Draw the front face of the stretcher,
then use the Push/Pull Tool to give it
the proper thickness. (Do not select and
edit the leg component while making
the stretcher.) Draw a left-to-right Selection Box around the stretcher, right-click,
choose Make Component from the popup menu, and name the component.
Follow the same steps to draw in one
side stretcher (Figure 6).

46

FIN E WO O DWOR K I N G

1. Draw a guide line 15 3 ⁄ 8 in.
from front edge of left front leg.

2. Select both front legs by
using the Select Tool and
holding the Shift key.
3. Copy the two front legs
and move them along the
green axis until they snap to
the guide line.
191 ⁄ 8"

Figure 5. Copy the front legs to make the rear legs.

Rough Out the Upper Front Stretcher,
Side, and Back Components
Step 6 Use the Tape Measure Tool to
place a guide line 55⁄ 8 in. from the top
of the leg to locate the upper components. To make the upper front stretcher,
copy the lower front stretcher and move
it along the blue axis until the lower corners meet the guideline you just drew.
Right-click on this copy and choose
Explode from the pop-up menu. Right-

153 ⁄ 8"

4. Use the Flip Along function
to orient them properly.

1. Place a guide line.

2. Draw a rectangle
between the leg
components that’s
13 ⁄ 8 in. high. Use
the Push/Pull
Tool to make the
stretcher 3 ⁄4 in.
thick and make
the shape a
component.
3. Create the
side stretcher in
a similar manner.

49 ⁄16"

Figure 6. Rough out the lower stretchers.
SK ETCH UP G UI D E F OR WOODWOR K ER S


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