TV Stand designed with Sketchup

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Project by daltxguy posted 02-12-2008 07:11 AM 5447 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This TV stand by itself is nothing too extraordinary. It has some nice features which I designed such as the rear baffle to run the wires to the back and the removable back to access/hide those same wires. It’s made of clear Radiata pine ( Pinus Radiata) and there is some hardware pulling it together( by request) but, for me, the truly interesting thing about this piece was the design process with my customer.

After visiting with my customer, we decided on certain dimensions and certain characteristics. They had very specific ideas about where it would fit, how big it should be, what components they wanted to put into it/on it, whether they wanted it open or closed. They wanted to paint or stain it and they wanted it to have a modern feel and a very IKEA look to it, in order to fit in with their tastes and their existing furniture ( or the look they wanted for the rest of their furniture when they finish furnishing their house).

They were a young couple, computer and tech savvy and I knew they would appreciate the opportunity to interact and participate in the design of the unit.

I took the opportunity after the last Sketchup table design contest to use my new skills with this tool to draw up the design with the dimensions they requested, in the color they wanted as a first iteration. I took a few images of the model from various directions and sent it off to them in an email.

Being given the chance to see their design before it was realized led to some changes and some requests for additional features ( this is where the hidden back was added to keep the dog out from the wires ). Redoing the design to these new specifications was relatively easy ( though I am still awkward with Sketchup ) but once they saw the changes they loved it.

I’ve now completed and delivered the piece and the customers were ecstatic about the piece. I can’t help but wonder if involving them in the process and the ability to fully visualize the piece before it was constructed led to it being exactly what they wanted (rather than what I would have wanted to build them), and therefore a greater satisfaction.

I’m showing here how the final piece compared to the ‘sketches’ I sent to them.

The model was not only useful for them, but also for me, as it generated the cutlist and I could always go back to design decisions I had made earlier for which I couldn’t remember all of the details when I came to construct. I didn’t have to have endless pages of drafting diagrams showing details ( or more likely, little bits of paper with sketches on them). If I wanted to check a dimension I could just use the tape measure feature and measure the model.

As an exercise in using Sketchup as the final design, I did find that I made some minor changes along the way, mostly minor construction details, but I’m not sure that it would have made a difference if I had put those details in Sketchup. There are also some things which I think would be tedious in Sketchup without some more basic woodworking toolkits available ( such as an easy way of adding joint details, such as dovetails or the use of biscuits ).

All in all, I would definitely use Sketchup again in such a process.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

12 comments so far

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4354 days

#1 posted 02-12-2008 07:38 AM

Great model and a great story. I have been using Sketchup for about a year. After the learning curve it has become pretty second nature. For me, it reduces the number of design decisions (read goof ups) in the shop. I think it take a little longer to design the model but the process allows me to arrive at something better in the long run.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4625 days

#2 posted 02-12-2008 09:20 AM

Sketchup adds so much to the process that I can’t understand professionals not using it. I’m working on a project, $35,000,000 in improvements, to an existing water treatment plant. A significant portion of which is architectural changes to the front of the facility. Being able to involve clients in detailed design decisions before any work is done is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you are building a small piece of furniture or planning a city. Getting client involvement and buy-in always makes things go smoother in the end.

-- Bob

View designerboy's profile


31 posts in 4321 days

#3 posted 02-12-2008 12:16 PM

I with you guys,

Sketchup rocks. I love it.

-- My Fear is when i die, my wife will sell my tools for what I TOLD her they cost

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4604 days

#4 posted 02-12-2008 12:40 PM

I agree, that Sketchup is a great tool for the shop – just wish I could figure it out. I feel dumb as a stump when I try working with it, can’t figure out why – I’ve learned some pretty complicated software programs, including building my entire website with pure html code (self taught), but I can’t seem to get that Sketchup figured out.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View toyguy's profile


1702 posts in 4376 days

#5 posted 02-12-2008 01:49 PM

I’m with you cajunpen. I have looked at that sketchup and just can’t seem to get started with it. I also feel a bit like a fish out of water when it comes to this design stuff.

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4304 days

#6 posted 02-12-2008 07:59 PM

Does anyone out there know where I can find the Sketchup application that can be used on a Mac (OS 10.3.9)? The only one I’ve seen for Mac requires OS 10.4.1 or 10.5 and I don’t have the $$ to upgrade my system at this time. I’ve never used Sketchup but it looks like a handy design tool.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4496 days

#7 posted 02-12-2008 08:42 PM

As a resident Sketch a holic, I think it is an awesome tool and fills allot of shoes in the design process. It is great to rough out design ideas, to test materiel and design changes, and can also be used for working drawings, although I prefer to jump to AutoCAD for that. What it really excels at is the ability to help your clients visualize the final outcome before you even get started. I always develop a SU model as complete as I can in the beginning of a project, and send the client screenshots, or renders if I am using Podium…I prefer to do renders if I have the time…the realism factor really helps with customers and clients that don’t have great ability to visualize things in 3D.

Maybe we can get Martin to start a thread for SU questions for the people that are struggling to learn how to use it. I am no expert, but I would be willing to help answer any questions to the best of my ability! There are allot of guys on here that know the software really good so I think between all of us we could get everyone up to speed on at least the basic user commands.


View ICTINSTRUCTOR's profile


29 posts in 4297 days

#8 posted 02-13-2008 02:55 AM

I spent several years as a CAD Draftsman, using AutoCAD, Cabinet Vision and CabinetWare (the last two are for production shops using CNC equipment). I would like to think I could draw anything with Autocad. Standard is that it is the most complex, command embedded drafting software out there. NOW having said ALL of that I can’t seem to draw a stupid bookshelf with SketchUp. LOL I have spent hours and hours trying to learn the little quirks with it. I feel like a hot rod mechanic who can’t get his kids bike fixed!!!!!!!!!! Any way I just thought I would share….

-- "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission"

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4453 days

#9 posted 02-13-2008 11:53 PM

David (Brad_Nailor) : I think it’s a good idea. I know there are already some tutorial videos produced and available here but perhaps a Q&A to help answer specific questions for those who are keen to give it a go but are struggling with something in particular.

Sketchup is like any other tool. It must be used to be mastered and sometimes there are some things that people have learned to do that are just, well, you never would have thought of it yourself.

I’ve used computers all my life ( well most of it, anyway) and I have to say that the interface for Sketchup is one of the easier ones I’ve come across – but we still have a long way to go in designing software in a way which is intuitive and helpful, rather than having to adjust to fixed ideas of how they should work. Remember that computers were originally designed to solve math problems and they haven’t changed much fundamentally from those days with the blinking lights.

Nevertheless, the use of a 3d tool for prototyping is still a progression for the hobbyist in this craft and still worth considering mastering.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4413 days

#10 posted 02-14-2008 11:22 AM

I am like Bill. I am not new to computers. Sketch-up just has my number I guess…

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4625 days

#11 posted 02-28-2008 05:25 AM

Hhmm…I’m not sure what it is but there is definitely some kind of a right brain/left brain thing that causes some folks to find Sketchup difficult. I’ve always been a creative type (or so I’ve been told) and really suck at organizational stuff. The mess of my workshop attests to that. I thought Sketchup wa so easy that it would allow anyone to just jump in. Have you guys that are having problems followed along with/watched the online tutorials on

I’ve beeen drafting/designing for 30 years, 20 with Autocad and a variety of other software so I had an advantage but I really thought Sketchup leveled the playing field. My son-in-law was almost computer illiterate but grabbed onto sketchup right away. I hooked him up with all the tutorials and told him I wouldn’t answer any questions I knew were in there. He had his whole house and years of improvements designed two weeks later.

I’ll be getting back onto LJ more frequently again so feel free to ask questions. There are a number of others here now that know it as well or better than I do so you should be able to get some fairly quick responses.

-- Bob

View Kipster's profile


1076 posts in 4292 days

#12 posted 05-08-2008 03:59 AM

Sketch up is impossible and I have a CAD background. Part of my problem is Tutorials go so slow I only go so far then get in trouble and have to start over. which is frustrating. Makes it hard to continue.

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

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