I've been around free software since day one, and what I found
incredible about Sketchup is that even if it cost a lot, it is pretty
incredible. There is not much I can think of a common wood worker could
not do readily with this very free application. It may not work
perfect for an architect designing the twin towers, or a design engineer
drawing up the final specs of an atomic power plant, but for some guy
building a deck, a barn, a kitchen cabinet, a night stand or any of the
many things your every day wood worker builds, this is the perfect tool
at the perfect price.
BTW, the stickiness is maddening until you use components.
One interesting thing is the "professional" $600 version works about
exactly the same as the free version, with the main difference in
ability to interact with other design software, not something that would
plague your average wood worker.
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On a different subject, sorta; I've been using TurboCad for many years
(still a novice at it)and I was wondering if it gets any more intuitive
as time goes on??
I am embarrassed to say that I still have V7 Pro. I upgraded about
3 times to get there and every time I DID upgrade, it seemed to take
forever to get back all the screens and buttons that went somewhere else.
Is it better now? Is 3D easier to work with than it was in V7?
Turbocad had a "Solid Modeller" back then. It seemed to work pretty
well, but was quite limited. But it sure seemed easier to use that this V7.
Also, since you are messing with Sketchup:
I downloaded an early version and went through the tutorial. It seemed
really neat, until I tried a complete drawing. Then, all of a sudden
all the neat "intuitive" stuff was over and I'd have to do all the rote
learning that I have had to do with Turbocad if I wanted to make it my
"default" CAD software. Is Sketchup better now?
It's Legoware. Cute, and somewhat functional. But I admit that when it
comes to CAD, I'm a snob. I have become proficient with the package I
use. In comparison, SU is awkward and limited.
I was a snob too. ;~) It's pretty much Sketchup 7 all the way for me now.
Once you learn to tweak the programs so that the lines look the way you want
it seems to be leaps and bounds better for relatively small drawings. I
consider relatively small to include a complete set of plans for a house.
Memory may become a problem with tall commercial buildings or large
landscapes such as a city park.
You really have to learn the program to appreciate it.
Oh yea??? Sez who???
Kidding aside, I think SU is a wonderful option for people to get into
computerised design and SU appears to be a hit.
And I'll stop with my Bob-The-Builder jokes, okay?
And you're right, people should not compare SU with CAD because it is
What I did find really interesting, is that Google/SU immediately
supported Macs. That was cool.
Incidentally, I use my CAD program as a surface modeller as well. Such
is the world of NURBS.
I agree. They are very different animals. However there IS an overlap
in what you can do with 3-D CAD, solid modelers, and Sketchup, and
this overlap tends to lead to a reaction like Leon's. And someone used
to doing conceptual drawings in Sketchup would find a solid modeler
able to produce the same shapes, but incredibly frustrating to do jobs
that Sketchup is best for. And a user of solid modelers find Sketchup
and 3-D CAD inadequate for their needs. They all have their place.
For me, the visualization help with sketchup makes it the software of
choice; its limited CAD capabilities meet my needs (combined with a
simple 2-D CAD program)
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
I wouldn't call TurboCAD the most intuitive CAD program I've ever used.
It does get better over time (a little), but some things just don't
work when you think they ought to (hey, that just worked a minute ago on
this other object, why won't it work HERE?!) and it can be pretty damn
Don't feel bad; I'm still on V8 Pro (the latest is V15) and I got there
in pretty much the same way you did, so I can't really comment on
whether it's any better now. Many times I've tried to find a way to
upgrade, but they just make it too damn difficult and they want too much
money for the Pro version. I've compared the features of Pro and Deluxe
and concluded that I don't need any of the Pro features anyway, and
since the Deluxe is much cheaper I've downloaded the trial version to
attempt a migration. However, many of my V8 drawings won't transfer
over because the Deluxe version claims I've used Pro features that
aren't supported in Deluxe, even though I don't know exactly what those
features are, I didn't use them knowingly, and IMSI support can't tell
me how to get around it. Their "solution" was to suggest various
vendors that offer the Pro version for a "reasonable" price...
I'm right there with ya; I'm still trying to decide if I can deal with
its quirks and if it will have enough functionality to entice me to
move, and right now it's looking pretty "iffy". For example, if I draw
a line and bisect it with another line, Sketchup now thinks I have
*four* lines instead of two! I really don't like the way it transforms
the things I draw into other things entirely. But perhaps that offers
me advantages that I don't understand right now, and I want to stick
with it and give it a chance; partly becomes it makes 3D design very
easy (which I like), and also because I really dig Google's "public
warehouse" model. Sketchup users have already built up an impressive
collection of publicly accessible drawings, and it seems like the sky
could be the limit...
Free bad advice available here.
To reply, eat the taco.
It didn't used to do that automatically, you had to tell it to
intersect. The Intersect menu function is still there. The main thing
is that if it doesn't do that then the intersection doesn't become a
hot point that you can easily click on. The only time I really
wouldn't want that is if I'm screwing around with something, but you
can use undo instead of deleting. But it would be nice to have that
as a mode you could turn on and off.
My main annoyance is when you have a hollow area and it insists on
redrawing a surface across it every time you do anything along the
It does it automatically on version 7, thank goodness.
That said if you continue to draw on Sketchup like you would on any other
typical CAD program it can become a bother.
I guess the thing that you have to remember about Sketchup is that it works
best when you draws objects not just lines that infer objects.
Maybe! I have probably used 6 or 7 CAD programs since the mid 80's TurboCAD
was absolutely the most difficult for me to "attempt" to master. AutoCAD LT
eas infinatly easier for me to learn and I used it for about 12 years.
Sketchup is as much easier for me to use compared to AutoCAD as AutoCAD ias
Sketchup 7 is better than 6 and as mentioned above has become my primary
drawing program. Well worth learning to think a little differently as
drawings are about 10 times faster using Sketchup 7. The learning curve is
pretty shallow especially if you watch a few of the numerous short online
I was reading a FWW article explaining a new plug in for making "to scale"
templates. Basically a tool for cutting out templates to check complex
shapes that you are making. Think a curved and tapering table leg.
Learning that you could now print to scale was a side benefit. I tried it
on version 6 and it would not work.
The plug in is "Slicer". In the program it will take a curved and tapered
leg and divide it into as many cross sections as you like and then lay all
those sections out to be printed in full scale.
Just to reiterate for those wRec'ers interested in using SU as a tool in
their woodworking endeavors, Fine Woodworking has an excellent blog called
"Design.Click.Build" that is all about using the program for woodworking
projects. Dave Richards and Tim Killen have written dozens of very specific
articles that will increase your proficiency with the program in that
I've posted this before but the best tutorial I've found is at
http://www.srww.com/blog . You'll need to hunt for it a bit but
it's called "Drawing a bedside table". It's an 8 part tutorial
that you can download in Word format or follow it online. It
covers a lot of the problems discussed here including making
components, using layers, dimensioning, etc.
This tutorial is what cleared things up for me. I had used
TurboCad and Autocad previously but was never proficient with
either. But having that background, at least to me, was as
much a hinderence as it was a help. If you have a CAD
background you must change your way of thinking or you'll
never get anywhere. The old install, try it out, uninstall
routine comes to mind.
If you have any interest in using SketchUp I encourage you to
take a look at this. It is invaluable for someone just
As I said elsewhere, the model exists to allow me to make the piece.
Putting more effort into the model than what is needed to do that is a
waste of time. Why do I need a model of the drawer? All I need to
make a drawer is length, width, height, thickness of parts. That's
it. What is the point of modeling it beyond that? What do I need the
tenons and mortises modeled for in the first place, and what benefit
does showing them at each leg accomplish? Why do I need to model the
dovetail recess in the front legs if I am going to be cutting the
dovetails on the rail and using that to mark the location of the
recess? This isn't mass production where one needs drawings such that
I could give the drawing of an individual part to someone who has no
other knowledge of the rest of the piece and have them produce the
As you get into more complex projects it does help to draw a complete model
of drawers or doors, or what have you, to see how they will fit together
inside a cabinet or case. In my case the model of the drawer helps me to
make certain that the rabbits on the front and backs of the jewelry chest
drawers do not interfere with the dado's in the sides of the drawer sides
that I cut for the drawer slide. Then the overall size of the drawer helps
me to see how far back it will fit in relationship to the back of the
cabinet or chest. More planning on the drawing keeps me from having to plan
during the actual construction phase. All of the parts and their sizes have
been predetermined and I know how they are going to fit before cutting any
wood. This is especially helpful when I made a 12 drawer jewelry chest with
4 or 5 different sized drawers.
But you can get most of that from just a plain box. To actually go in
and draw the dovetails on the drawer is kind of crazy. Though I
realize the drawing was teaching aid so I can understand doing some
things just for the sake of doing them.
You can add in extra detail where you need it, but to start from a
philosophy of every detail must be in the drawing is well, different
from mine :) I've done models where I only put in three legs and two
sides. I think while you certainly can get a lot of power out of
sketchup with making everything components and using layers, you can
also just whip up something quick and dirty that's enough to get you
What's so bad about thinking while you're building? I think better on
my feet, and I started woodworking in part because I was sick of
sitting at a computer all the time. When I'm thinking in the shop I
have a chance to grab the broom or make it so I can see the top of the
bench again. Going into the shop without all the answers
predetermined is fun!
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