Learn Google Sketchup in a Weekend with Robert Lang

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Review by Vate posted 07-19-2011 11:33 PM 6419 views 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Learn Google Sketchup in a Weekend with Robert Lang No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

The Woodcraft store in Atlanta offered this class, which is three 8-hour days of training (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I signed up after they dropped the price from $449 to $349.

Overall, it was a very good class. Mr. Lang is engaging, knowledgeable, and clearly has deep knowledge of both woodworking and Sketchup. The content, apart from the basic Sketchup tools and navigation, was completely oriented toward woodworking, and was very useful. Mr. Lang mastered Sketchup by necessity, as a writer and illustrator, and teaches a number of clever and hard-won techniques (such as transferring tenons in one piece accurately to mortises in another). I left with many ideas on how I would use Sketchup on future projects, and a reasonable amount of confidence that I could work my way through it.

I also purchased what might be called the companion CD, Mr. Lang’s Woodworker’s Guide to Sketchup, which contains an almost 200 page PDF-based book with both text and embedded video, for $30. The techniques and lessons in the class are also covered in the book, and the book is therefore a very useful reference after the class is complete (when you might have forgotten something). The embedded videos are animations of screen actions, with voiceover, and are therefore very useful as “show and tell”.

Is the class worth it? For me it was, as I wanted to intensely dive into Sketchup and shortcut my learning curve, and I doubted my own ability to set aside the time. I also value in-person training and coaching. Once the class was paid for, I knew I would block out the time and not waste the money. However, if you are motivated and good at self-teaching, you can learn all these techniques from Mr. Lang’s CD-based guide, and save the leftover cash for tools or wood. If you plan on using Sketchup for woodworking, I recommend the CD without reservation – it is well worth the money.

If you take the class, I would highly recommend learning the basics of Sketchup ahead of time – the navigation, the drawing tools (lines, arcs, rectangles, etc.), the push/pull tool. There are many free online tutorials that cover the basics. Sketchup is not hard to use, but it has a certain technique and rule set that is not necessarily intuitive. Many of the people in class had just downloaded it and opened it for the first time and they struggled.

My one improvement comment is that I think the CD should have been included in the class price, especially since the class lessons are largely replicated on the CD, making it very useful. Yes, that meant I was willing to pay extra, but I would have appreciated it as part of the class package.

View Vate's profile


9 posts in 3615 days

8 comments so far

View lew's profile


13178 posts in 4608 days

#1 posted 07-20-2011 12:56 AM

Thanks for the review.

Lumberjocks used to have a member (DaveR) who was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I miss him.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View JPB's profile


31 posts in 3382 days

#2 posted 07-20-2011 02:26 AM

I found lots of great Sketchup tutorials through this site. The most complete that I have found are the ones from the guy at Swamp Road Wood Works.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 07-20-2011 10:01 AM

The best resource for Google Sketchup is a manual called “Google Sketchup The Missing Manual”, locally it was $20 and you download the CD for free from a website provided in the book.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View Ken90712's profile


17902 posts in 4041 days

#4 posted 07-20-2011 10:04 AM

Great review. I have used sketchup and need to master it one day!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Ken90712's profile


17902 posts in 4041 days

#5 posted 07-20-2011 04:31 PM

I now have watched one of his videos and a big help. Great post.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Elizabeth's profile


821 posts in 3996 days

#6 posted 07-20-2011 05:42 PM

Thanks for this review! I have tried to learn Sketchup on my own but don’t really understand it yet. I’ve used Pro/E and AutoCAD in the (distant) past so it’s probably just the learning curve. I think I will get the e-book, though the site I found for it charges $40.

I’ve also ordered a SpaceNavigator! I used to have something similar at one of my engineering design jobs and loved it.

View rawdawgs50's profile


82 posts in 3870 days

#7 posted 07-20-2011 08:36 PM

Good review. The Lang videos are good and will certainly get you up and running. The only way to learn sketchup is to do it and challenge yourself. There are lots of videos available. I consider myself a high level SU user, but am not a master…..yet! Layout 3 is just as amazing as SU and has become a huge asset as well, although it is not available in SU free edition only PRO. However, for most wood workers…basic SU is more than what you will ever need/want and its FREE!

Sketchup should be thought of as a shop tool by every wood worker now. If you do not own/use this tool, you are missing out on technology that is here to stay and will only become more prevalent. I would say it can be as addictive as cutting wood once you learn the software.

Google has lots of great videos as well that will teach you for free. Devote some time to this software and reap the benefits.

View Pimzedd's profile


629 posts in 4995 days

#8 posted 07-20-2011 10:12 PM

JPB has it right. Swamp Road Wood Works’ videos are excellent. Very well done and easy to understand. I have tried many and they are the best for a woodworker. And the BEST part, they are FREE.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

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