Just saw a post re Sketchup, and wanted to know if this was good for
making plans for a project. SWMBO wants new end tables for the LR,
and they must have drawers, shelves, pull outs, and probably a string
to pull to make the flames shoot out of my butt. Anyway, I haven't
done mechanical drawing since Engineering 105 in the days of slide
rules. I can design on paper, but am worried about dimensions,
overall, and individual parts.
What do people use on a PC to replace the paper, dimension a project,
and produce simple "blueprints"?
Thanks for the help.
Not really, but it's absolutely great for sketching out ideas. The working
drawings will have to come from somewhere else. You might still need the
mechanical drawing stuff after all, but at least you'll be detailing
something that's fully worked out and designed.
I'm lucky enough to have put a youngster through college recently. His
academic licensed Solidworks is still good for a few more months. Since I
don't have SU Pro, it means I rebuild the entire model in SW. Even so,
that's still lightyears better and faster than doing it by hand. Few
projects are complex enough to need detailed part drawings. A few key
dimensions in SU is often plenty. One exception is laying out cuts on a 4x8
sheet. I like to plan out the cuts sitting comfortably at my desk.
I'm curious why you think SketchUp is not up to the task. What
features are missing that make it unacceptable? I've become a
big fan of SketchUp and find it does everything I need. It
does have its quirks but most are easy to work around or are
addressed by a ruby script.
I didn't mean to imply that. I use it and am getting things done, often
quicker and more directly than with other packages (big pricey things: SW,
Inventor, acad). In direct response to the OP's question, though, the free
version has no provisions for 2D working drawings. Other than that, it's
dandy for the blocky shapes we tend to make with wood sticks and sheets. Of
its foibles, the most glaring is its lack of angle dimensions. When you
really want them, rise and slope dimensions are a distant second best. Most
of everything else won't be needed for woodwork -- lofts, blends, that kind
of stuff. Sometimes I miss the sketch based features, feature history, and
part configurations, but that's a workflow issue. Last, a dimensioned 3D
sketch is actually better than a 3-view working drawing sometimes, except
adding dimensions to the component adds them into every model that uses
them. Its strengths in other areas more than makes up for this, however. I
use Sketchup by preference over the other tools now.
Ok, agree with everything. The angle dimensions, or lack
thereof, are most bothersome. You can draw it easily enough,
just can't dimension it. I generally just put a text note in
its place. I was not aware that domensions on a component span
across drawings. Can't you "make unique" and get around that?
It's hard to bitch too much about a piece of *free* software
with the features it has though. I should be happy and
It's great for what it is.
As for the component dimensions, next time I'll try inserting them into a
new model and annotate them there; consider it as a part drawing. I had in
mind the times I got "smart" and saved out some components to detail them. I
cleaned up the joinery, and added some dimensions and notes. The dimensions
were all over the place in the original model when I reloaded the components
to update with the changes. Still sneaking up on a useful workflow.
Excellent tool for the task you ask about, and particularly for the price.
And, as long as not mislead by folks with a cursory, at best, knowledge of
the program, which is all you've got thus far.
Take a few minutes and look at some of the excellent woodworkers using SU
for designing complicated woodworking projects:
FWIW, I'm currently in the middle of building a $300K house for a client
that was designed _totally_ with the free version of SU, and that is being
built with assistance from the Pro version only to print out scaled
construction documents, a task not remotely necessary for the vast majority
of woodworking projects.
Will it do the same for you? Absolutely! As long as you take opinions, over
experience, with a grain of salt.
It can become a satifying hobby in itself. For the rest of us, as a user,
his experience won't be much different from what I describe. There are far
better tools for curvy shapes, but I readily agree he won't find them for
the same low SU price. Unless you have a quick fix in mind. Would you take
this moment and lighten the darkness of our ignorance?
Jeezus. You self styled power users are tiresome. Three posts with no
content other than my obvious ignorance? Here. Let's set it straight. The
only things superficial and cursory here is Sketchup and your obvious
ignorance of CAD systems. SU manages to get real work done, despite its
having only the most primitive profile sketching tools, and the simplest of
sweeps. There. It's said. It's done. No quibbling. SU doesn't pretend to be
anything else. Why do you?
LOL ... your ignorance will continue to have that effect until you quit
showing it, which you seem to do a lot in the short time you've been around
Simple solution for you ... READ the OP's original question, stick to
addressing the question in the woodworking context in which it was asked,
and quit slobbering in the public trough with half-baked, preconceived
opinions based on an incomplete understanding of the program's suitability
for the OP's _specific_ task.
OTOH, I don't build houses (and only rarely cabinets or tables) and have
so far found SU too often non-intuitive, inadequately-documented, or
just plain unsuited for a significant part of the work I want to do.
That's not a denigration of SU, any more than it would be of my table
saw to point out that my band saw handles curved cuts much better than
I'm perfectly willing to accept that the fault lies with me - but if I,
for example, can't find how to accurately draw a smooth non-arc-derived
curve/surface (such as that shown in the photos at the link below) after
a couple days of digging, then I'll use a different tool that does meet
my needs - because I can't let a tool stand in the way of getting the
My attitude is partly a result of my methods of work, which require that
the finished drawing (the exported dxf/dwg equivalent) be passed to a
computer for automated cutting with fairly high precision. For this type
of work the drawing /is/ the exact template for the part, rather than
something from which I produce a cut list which is then used as a guide
for manually producing parts.
As I said, I /do/ like SU for producing "show and tell" renderings -
yesterday I sent off a fairly spiffy SU-produced JPEG to a cabinet shop
in Finland, and the SU rendering was actually better for my purposes
than a photo. That's hard to not like.
I haven't given up on learning to use SU to produce machinable shapes
like fleur-de-lis, wheat sheaves, ears of corn, bunches of grapes, etc
that I've drawn with other tools for automated routing on cabinet door
panels - but so far I'm not having much success using SU for that type
That pretty much sums it up for me.
If I didn't have a 20-year back-ground in other software, I would
probably latch onto SU pretty quick.
Now, if I want to make a photorealistic presentation of anything, I
create the model in Vectorworks, and render it in Strata. That gives
me both a pretty picture, and a vector-based file to create toolpaths
for my router.
SU, in comparison, is rather Fisher-Price to me.
To try to draw comparisons between the two classes of software is
A local contractor wanted to build his dream/retirement house and over
a beer/lunch with a few locals, a local architect sketched out the
house on a placemat. It was instantly accepted as 'The Plan'..and
proved conclusively that the ability of the architect to express
visually what the client wanted had nothing to do with the software.
There is no software package that will compensate for a lack of
vision. Neither does a concept drawn in AutoCAD automatically means it
is a good design.
Lately I have been using Aspire by Vectric almost exclusively. In
fact, I went and bought some Intel-based PC's to run just that
To the original poster...
The best advice is ignore most of this thread and try it for
yourself. Most of us find it does more than what we need even
though it has it quirks. There is no such thing as perfect
software. It's free and will cost nothing but a little time.
There is a good tutorial that can be found at
http://www.srww.com/google-sketchup.htm . While I find that he
does things a little different than the way I would, it's a
*very* good intro to the software and will give you the skills
necessary to form you own opinion.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.