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


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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

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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