SketchUp Plugin - Rail Component

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Praki posted 02-12-2008 07:57 AM 7061 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been using Google SketchUp for my woodworking project planning. SU is a great tool for prototyping and figuring out accurate dimensions. I have found it very useful to catch many errors in my spatial thinking.

Personally, I find it hard to sketch interactively all the time. I have always liked the text-in-graphics-out style the most. So, I ended up learning enough of SU API to create plug-ins. I have a plug-in to create a rail I will work on the stile soon and post another entry on it.

The table I am planning needs a bead but my plug-in can only do a bevel at this time. I have to research some more to fix this issue, but that is lower on my list of items.

The script is at Save the text to a file in SketchUp’s plug-in directory and restart it. You should see a new Draw->Rail menu item which will start by asking for dimensions and proceed to create a rail.

Here is an image of the generated rail.

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

7 comments so far

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 4295 days

#1 posted 02-12-2008 02:54 PM

Maybe a dumb question but…Short of following your instructions & loading the plug-in How do these plug-ins work? Is it like an “aftermarket” option on a car? I’m always leary of adding something to my computer as I’ve too many bad experiences with downloading things that only seem to screw with my computer in ways I do not like! I do use & like SU but have still not mastered all the functions. Thanks, Tim


View KEPCW's profile


13 posts in 4273 days

#2 posted 02-12-2008 03:16 PM

I downloaded the free version to try this out, and I get so frustrated I still pull out the paper and ruler. It is nice to know there is hope, I just have to spend some time and sit down and work with it I suppose, but any tips would be great! Kay

-- Home of the Reaching Down Project:

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4334 days

#3 posted 02-12-2008 03:26 PM

thanks for the post. I am somewhat in agreement with KEPCW but I guess I am just too stubborn to admit defeat. I am working on the steep part of the learning curve right now but do seem to be making progress. This plug-in will help I am sure as I have been trying to draw a rail for a project but just haven’t been able to get it right.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 4367 days

#4 posted 02-12-2008 06:08 PM

Neat script.

I’ve found the easiest way to create rails (and stiles) is to determine the
outline of the end profile first.

I start by drawing a rectangle with outer dimensions that include the beading,
tenons etc. Then use the pencil tool, circle tool and eraser tool in combination
with ‘Intersect’ to make the profile I want. Once that is done, extrude the ‘length’
of the part.

Rotate the view to the ends for tenons.
Using the rectangle tool again, draw and
place tenons exactly where I want them.
Switch to extrude tool, but instead of drawing/
extruding the tenons ‘out’ of the ends, I extrude
the area around them (waste) ‘back’ to expose
the tenons. As if I was actually cutting the
wood waste away in real life.

This keeps my head wrapped around what I’m doing
a bit better.

To answer a question above, the file is nothing
more than a sequential script that the program
follows to do ‘something’. Think of it as a sort
of macro, similar to what office applications can do.

-- Still learning everything

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4470 days

#5 posted 02-12-2008 08:52 PM is just one site that has tons of ruby scripts. Rubys are little macros that are written by developers that when installed in SU help you to do tasks and add commands to the interface. They are really easy to install…you just download them to the plug ins directory in SU and that’s it. There are quite a few good free ones on there that are really handy….the better ones you have to pay for. There are a bunch more sites out there that offer some free rubys also.

If your modeling a kitchen and need a quick and easy way to make doors, see my blog about using the follow me tool…


View Grumpy's profile


25623 posts in 4364 days

#6 posted 02-13-2008 03:01 AM

Sketchup is a great tool and is worth persevering with. I am still learning it, so thanks Jocks for the comments. I am designing a bed for my granddaughter and there are a few design options. I find the layers are great for displaying those different options one at a time. I have used turbocad for years but SU is a grade above.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Praki's profile


201 posts in 4509 days

#7 posted 02-13-2008 03:57 AM

Tim – You are right that these plug-ins are like after market options for your car. Just as after market options for your car can be ineffective and even dangerous, it is the same or worse with the plug-ins of any kind on the computer. Programs which support plug-ins usually limit what the plug-in can do but it is never perfectly secure. So, installing plug-ins is usually an act of faith. I wouldn’t install any plug-ins that were not trusted.

Kepcw and Scott – SketchUp takes a lot of getting used to. It is a very powerful and nice drawing program and I really like the benefit it gives me in pursuing my woodworking hobby. However, some fundamental concepts and skills must be mastered before you can get use it effectively. I have benefited from some of the “SketchUp for Dummies” series of videos which you can find on youtube and recommend them (despite the name LOL). I must say that, adjusting the geometry of complex objects interactively turns out to be hard and was one of the main motivations to start writing my plug-ins.

David – I discovered in my quest for understanding the SU API. I didn’t investigate it much as interesting plug-ins seemed to be not free :)

rpmurphy509 and Grumpy – thanks for the interest and comments.

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics