Computer sketch up or rough drawing

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Forum topic by Ivan posted 03-11-2016 10:47 PM 1750 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16626 posts in 3881 days

03-11-2016 10:47 PM

Hi folks,

I would like to explore one more aspect of woodworking and it’s pre-woodworking activity.

I’m not so into making videos and using sketch ups on computer (not because I don’t know how ot use it). I usualy take paper and pencil and draw some rough draft and make all on the way having all in my head (or just print some photo of some other’s project). Start with aproximate measurement than adjust them on the way. I find it quite challenging too.
What’s your opinion?

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

41 replies so far

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3225 days

#1 posted 03-11-2016 10:52 PM

Do what works for you.

I love using Sketchup, but have also built projects from a quick pencil sketch or just from an idea in my head. If there is a new idea or technique or if I’m just not 100% confident in everything about the build, especially proportions, I definitely use Sketchup. For things that I have built before or are simpler, it’s not always necessary.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3202 days

#2 posted 03-11-2016 11:03 PM

Most of my projects have been made with some tiny, hand drawn sketch of the important elements with dimensions drawn on. The rest I figure out as I go. Things like boxes I might just have the needed outside dimensions. I know AutoCAD pretty well and I’ve played with Sketchup a few times, but I really don’t often need that level of precision. On the other hand, I don’t do complex joinery. And I make my share of mistakes.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 03-11-2016 11:04 PM

Yup, paper & pencil, plus looking at lotsa others things help spark something that’s between my ears..

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View ChefHDAN's profile


1802 posts in 3863 days

#4 posted 03-11-2016 11:08 PM

I used to just go with a sketch when knocking out rough items or simpler shop items, but have found after watching some tutorials etc that sketchup can really save me some time working through a build digitally and then going to the sawdust. I’m not really cutting to the measurements exactly, because I generally screw something up somewhere and make alterations afterwards, but many many times I’ve been able to do all of the head & butt scratching at the computer first before I realize I just cut a damn board short again

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View htl's profile


5358 posts in 2173 days

#5 posted 03-11-2016 11:09 PM

majuvla I’m like you using pictures with some added quick drawing to build my projects.
In high school 1967 I took a year of drafting and it has served me well all they years.
It trained me to be able to see the 3d of a 2d drawing.
I’ve played with sketchup and it’s a cool program but for me I think a 2D program would work better with the way I do my wood working but then again most times I can have the project built by the time I could draw it up.
It’s just the way my mind has had to work it out for many years and it’s hard to see and go about it differently after all these years.
Old timers mind set.
Say that fast 3 times fast and you’ll know what I’ve got alzheimer. LOL

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


6663 posts in 2401 days

#6 posted 03-11-2016 11:17 PM

I get lots of ideas in my head but now I have a chance to actually make some of them work. I can’t draw a stick figure that looks like a stick figure so I have always struggled with making usable drawings. After discovering Sketchup, it has opened up many project ideas that I would have either had to use someone else’s plans for or never attempt. I can now see an idea that someone else had and go draw up my on version of it in Sketchup. Half the fun for me now is in the design process. I use Sketchup to make sure that all the parts go together before I start. When I built my belt sander last year, I completed almost the entire design in Sketchup before I cut a single piece of wood and only had a few tweeks along the way. Just the butchered wood that it has prevented has made a great difference for me.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Patch2020's profile


97 posts in 2255 days

#7 posted 03-12-2016 12:20 AM

It depends on if I’m doing something for me or a customer. When I do something out of my head for me or to sell, I will do a rough drawing on my dry erase board and make a cut list. I like using Sketchup to show a customer a better idea of whit it will look like than my horrible drawings. A funny thing is that I will still go into the shop and do my same routine of drawing and making a cut list to work from instead of printing a picture with dimensions on it.

-- Patch2020, Tennessee

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3187 days

#8 posted 03-12-2016 12:26 AM

I do it both ways or a combination of both. I will use sketchup for a drawing showing porportions etc.. and then go into shop and start cutting and fitting.

I have done detailed sketchup drawings with all dimensions. And I have done things just from a rough sketch it just depends on the project.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2662 days

#9 posted 03-12-2016 02:13 AM

Hi Ivan, I think many woodworkers can do great with just a rough sketch. I am not one of those people. I’ve got just enough experience to get myself into deep doo-doo if I don’t plan adequately, so I use sketchup religiously for every project, I never start anything without a printed sketchup plan with all dimensions mapped out. Sketchup is so easy to use you would not believe it. There is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to tutorials from rank beginner to pro. You could be using it in a day. This is a project I finished yesterday that I will be posting tomorrow.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2643 days

#10 posted 03-12-2016 03:48 AM

Do what works for you.

- JayT

I’ll second that. As an architect, I used a pencil for the first half of my career, and a mouse for the second.
They both work, but CAD is much more precise with none of the mess.

Because I focus on small, intricate projects, I use AutoCAD to produce my full-size patterns.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1913 days

#11 posted 03-12-2016 03:56 AM

I agree with Jerry. I have 2 closets to build, then shipping them to Beverly Hills.
No way I would want to try to figure out all the sizes and angles sketching by hand.
With Sketchup just draw the floor plan with the correct measurements, fill everything in that’s needed,
and then the measurements are all there, and if you build it to what is drawn it works out…every time!

Plus… once they are drawn, if you have to change anything, you can make those changes to everything that pertains to them without forgetting to update something later. Definitely saves on erasers. :)
Sketchup ( or other drawing programs) is a win win.

View tyvekboy's profile


2107 posts in 4027 days

#12 posted 03-12-2016 04:17 AM

I can sketch out something with paper and pencil but I prefer to use Sketch Up. It’s the best tool in my shop.

I think spending the time to do a precise drawing and then using it to cut all the pieces saves time, materials and money.

Another thing it affords you to do is after you finish the drawing is look at it and see if there is a better way to do it or if a change in the design. For example, changing the type of joint in a project.

There are some projects that I’ve made and posted that have gone through many design changes before the first cut was made. The results were a lot better than if I had just done a sketch on paper and designed it in my head.

Another thing that Sketch Up allows me to do is save paper. What I do is take screen shots of each piece with the dimensions; then I use the screen shots to make a PDF file; then I put the PDF on my iPAD and take that to the shop with me. No papers to mess with or loose.

Again, I agree that you should do what works for you.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View JCinVA's profile


232 posts in 1844 days

#13 posted 03-12-2016 04:18 AM

Ivan, for me it depends on the project. Like htl I took drafting in high school and used that for years. Then I had to learn CAD for projects at work and it opened up new possibilities for my home use. I’m just learning Sketchup now to add to my toolbox, so to speak. I still use paper, pencil and graph paper (or the back of an envelope), especially for a rough draft and basic measurements to get started.

I equate each method to having different planes or hand and powered tools – each can be used for different tasks but sometimes one is the best choice. And you are the best person to make that decision for each project.

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


6663 posts in 2401 days

#14 posted 03-12-2016 04:22 AM

BTW, If you want to learn Sketchup, I highly recommend the video Tutorial that Matthias Wandel did on his YouTube channel and his website. It was one of the best tutorials that I looked at and helped me get up the learning curve much faster.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Ivan's profile


16626 posts in 3881 days

#15 posted 03-12-2016 07:38 AM

Looking all of answers, I can agree that making sketch up on some bigger projects like kitchens or bathrooms is more than useful, you can realy put all measurements in footprint and you shouldn’t make mistake. On the other hand, for small shop projects I still think that some mind/hand manual training is better than go to computer program.
Thanks all for your oppinions on this topic.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

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