Sketchup - I'm glad I took the time to learn it.

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Blog entry by pashley posted 10-16-2008 09:25 PM 11349 reads 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I admit, I had a heck of a time when I first started with Sketchup; I was not getting it – and I have been working with software for 20 years.

But I saw the value in Sketchup. I could create my own WW plans, and manipulate them like crazy to make sure everything fit, and that particular woods and finishes would look good together – before ever cutting a single piece of wood.

I bought a “for Dummies” book, and watched some YouTube videos; I tried playing with it on my own. I even contacted the guys that do the Design.Click.Build blog on FWW.

I made slow progress, but progress nevertheless.

I need SU to help me with my (hopefully) money-making WW business.

This was something I finished up this morning; about 4 hours of work. It’s a toy chest / blanket chest for a friend of mine.

You guys out there having trouble with SU – keep trying!

-- Have a blessed day!

17 comments so far

View oldskoolmodder's profile


802 posts in 4800 days

#1 posted 10-16-2008 10:46 PM

I agree that people should NOT give up easily on Sketchup. I’ve been in computers for almost as long as you and I thrive on the technology, but was somewhat discouraged with the program at first. I actually deleted it after a few tries, over a year ago. Then earlier this year, decided that I should TRY to learn more. I downloaded everything I could as far as plug-ins go, and set aside plenty of time to just muck around. I designed some things after a while, that I probably could only dream about in actuality.

Last week, I was at my Cousin’s house with my laptop, to start a proposal for a deck. I used Sketchup for roughly 4 hours, while he asked me, What the heck I was doing wasting so much time designing, instead of just drawing it out. I showed him a bit of what I was able to do, and by the end of the time I was designing, he had decided I should try a few things and I showed him how they would look, instead of wasting lots of sheets of paper. Take your time and learn the program, DO NOT be afraid of it. It seems daunting at first, and you’ll probably never learn everything it can do, but you’ll learn many things that you can use down the road. Also, don’t forget to search the database online (through the program) for pre-built objects and materials. They’ll save you TONS of time.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View Keith Cruickshank's profile

Keith Cruickshank

41 posts in 4765 days

#2 posted 10-17-2008 12:29 AM

Patrick: You are spot on about sketchup. It’s a must have tool for your toolbox.

-- Keith Cruickshank, - on-demand woodworking videos

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 5016 days

#3 posted 10-17-2008 02:14 AM

You’re giving me the itch to break out my program again! Nice chest design.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4838 days

#4 posted 10-17-2008 03:00 AM


I DL’d the texture from a site somewhere that has high res pics. I can send it to you if you like….

-- Have a blessed day!

View Woodn88s's profile


86 posts in 4662 days

#5 posted 10-17-2008 02:00 PM

looks real good Pash,
I just started fooling with it and my frustration level gets the best of sometimes. I’m hoping to incorporate sketchup into making drawings for people, for jobs that are not all that special, like standard wall units and cabinets.
once again your drawing looks great

-- I want to know Gods are details "A. Einstein"

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4696 days

#6 posted 10-17-2008 03:55 PM

I’m still trying to get the hang of it. I’m not much of a computer guy. It sure looks like you are right on the money though.
I’m gonna keep monkeying with it until I can do it.

View Charles Mullins's profile

Charles Mullins

94 posts in 4832 days

#7 posted 10-17-2008 04:06 PM

I tried the “Dummies Book” but haven’t made much progress, so I ordered the “Sketchup for Idiots” book. If it ever gets here I’ll probably be able to use SU too!

(Just kidding) I’ve got the book (for “Dummies”) and am slowly going through it.

It’s a great program and the price is right too! Beats TurboCAD by a bunch in use! A lot easier.

Charlie Mullins

-- God makes the wood beautiful--I simply rearrange it to make it more useful, hopefully.

View douglbe's profile


375 posts in 5081 days

#8 posted 10-17-2008 04:29 PM

Definitely frustrating in the beginning, seems like it should be simple to use, but it does take time and I have to keep using it or I loose track of some of the techniques and spend more time trying to figure out how I did that the last time. Yet, I have a great time with the program and what I can do with it: Separate the parts with dimensions applied, create a cut list, look at your project completed and see what it looks like from top to bottom, inside out, and upside down if you like, and then print it all and head for the shop. Everybody’s right, a great program at the right price.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4838 days

#9 posted 10-17-2008 09:49 PM

You can find the photo texture here.

-- Have a blessed day!

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 4893 days

#10 posted 10-17-2008 10:06 PM

I can see the value of Sketchup, I honestly do. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the 3D stuff. I have tried playing around with it several times and usually end up frustrated. I have shelved any further SU experimenting for a while and decided that If I want to feel stupid I will go visit my mother-in-law instead.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View ShaneR's profile


4 posts in 4583 days

#11 posted 12-02-2008 12:43 AM

4 hours is very long for that, no offence.
I’m assuming you spent most of the time in thought and experimenting with the design.
Sketchup is very useful, if u put your mind to it and just use the video tutorials on their website you can learn The essentials in a good day.
Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you can model a spiral staircase you can model pretty much anything(well, not human faces but you get my drift).

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4838 days

#12 posted 12-02-2008 01:08 AM

Yes, but, I could do it in half the time now, and getting better.

-- Have a blessed day!

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4863 days

#13 posted 12-02-2008 01:33 AM

Patrick -
It is a strggle to get really confident with this –
This summer – shameless plug, but with no vested interest – Bob Lang, Sr. Editor for Popluar Woodworking is teaching a 2 day class “Sketch-up for Woodworkers” June 13 and 14 (weekend) at Marc Adams School in Indiana. I’m a bit torn since it is 8 hours drive, but some others from our guild may be going as well.

So there is a hands-on, opportunity coming up – but you have to come with your laptop loaded.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View ShaneR's profile


4 posts in 4583 days

#14 posted 12-04-2008 02:34 PM

This is a project I’ve been working on on and off for the last few years, I believe it might actually be the most work intensive drawing ever made in sketchup as this kind of thing is not what sketchup was designed to do. it’s a timber frame bulgarian style house with all details drawn in, from studs to skirting to roof tiles. heck, all doors and windows are openable via their hinges, I can navigate down the toilets all the way through to the foundations(feels like bobsledding). the reason for detail is that it’s also the basis of a virtual tour. Some of the layers were hidden during this wireframe export but it gives an idea of what is possible.

wireframe export

looking back at it, i would have done it a bit differently in terms of working order and it did in this case take considerably more time than the norm of house plans, but the power that it gives is that it’s much easyer to spot mistakes and complications as your always working in perspective. As a designer I liked being able to roam the house as I worked and contrary to cad this gives a continuous live feedback of what it will look like in reality.
In the case of something simpler like a concrete pour with a flat roof and polystyrene insulation stuck to it I would definatly recommend sketchup.
I say it took alot of time but even though I consider myself fast in modeling, most things were drawn over a few times before they settled down. in my (family) companies concept though, it’s worth spending the extra time on the designs as they are to be built repetitively for different poeple wherever they choose.

Here’s a render made with a sketchup plugin called SUpodium and photoshop

View ShaneR's profile


4 posts in 4583 days

#15 posted 12-05-2008 02:36 PM

uh oh, well you asked for it :)

Not sure, looks like I might be designing an eco(nomic/logic) cube of sorts for the benelux market, I have quite alot of concepts for it in my head but it looks like it will economically be head and shoulders above the rest.
now this is a design I really have faith in, because I know I would seriously consider buying one, and so do my brothers and mates.the idea is to build 2bed modern open plan house and sell at less than 100k, add to that that there’s a foots worth of insulation all round and it seems to be a really nice concept.

concepts include:
-Minimum surface area in relation to m2/m3 inside(obviously we could hardly plop down a sphere but to give you an idea my house here has 3 times more surface area to m2 than a cube. that means it’s losing 3 times as much heat than it should be, and even tripling the insulation wont fix that.)

-Structural right of way i.e. the home is designed around the structure not the other way around to bring down costs(this will mean that the structure is very simple,strong and quick to assemble, all soil water drainage will be in one place, service channels, media/electricity hubs, there is something great about simplistic building.

-No airtight configuration, the most efficient eco homes are air tight and use a heat exchanger to bring fresh air into the house, in the process up to 98%(according to marketing) of the heat in the outgoing air is transmitted to the cold air entering the house. this all seems very good and well only the heat exchangers gather bacteria and are a health hazard.

-no wasted space, the hallway in my house is almost half the size of the entire building, I unavoidably heat it, i hang my coat there but other than that its an absolutely and utterly useless space, more so because it means it takes me longer to get from a to b. if there will be need for a hallway, it will double as perhaps a desk, maybe just a reading chair, or a kids playing room.

To be honest I’d most like to design tiny spaces, like caravans because i think that is the most challenging. I think about idea’s for that all the time, because in my opinion, if you can design a good caravan a house is easy. I dont think I would go for a caravan but a 40ft refridgerated container. This is something I’d say I will wind up building myself as a prototype because it will have alot of moving parts(some very cool but whacky concepts in there) and will need tests. this will likely only be in the distant future and I hope to testlive it one day. unfortunatly my company wont back it but I have faith in it, maybe when they see more they will change their minds. the concepts as to spacial design I’m sofar keeping to myself as they are new concepts and It’s still only halfbaked.

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