How to Use SketchUp for Woodworking

SketchUp is a 3-dimensional documentation and modelling tool used extensively in woodworking, construction, architectural engineering, marketing, and product design. Though the inventors of this tool never had woodworking on their radar, this tool is also for these professionals.

Perhaps, you want to create certain small pieces using SketchUp. You can do this very easily and the net result will be superb, no doubt. So, if you’re thinking of making a career in woodworking, don’t hesitate to use this amazing tool.

What makes SketchUp perfect for woodworkers is that the 3-D model brings out the documentation set better known as cut lists and shop drawings. Here’s how you can use Sketchup for woodworking:

Using SketchUp for Woodworking

If you’re looking at 3D modelling, it’s best to begin slowly and build a skill at a time. It would help to get yourself a guide at this point. Alternatively, learn from tutorials. Once you know how SketchUp works, you can take on small projects. Progressively, you can accept more complex projects based on your knowledge and skillset.

Sketchup Tutorial – How to Create Various Objects in SketchUp

Selecting a Template from SketchUp

After you choose a template and are at your workplace, ensure you have activated the “Large Tool Set”. You can do this by following these steps:

View menu –> Toolbars –> Large Tool Set

Setting Up the Sketchup Workspace

1. Draw a Rectangle

Your first task is to draw your table. You can do this by choosing Rectangle Tool (R). To initiate the rectangle-drawing process, click once. Next, drag your mouse and click once more to finish drawing the rectangle.

2. Spell Out Your Dimensions 

After you have drawn your first shape, type its dimensions on your keyboard. Take your time over this, there’s no hurry. However, be accurate about these dimensions before you click on anything else, or you might not be able to indicate your dimensions. Use this format to type out your dimensions correctly. Next, press Enter on your keyboard.

Format your dimensions the way you envisage. Once you hit Enter with all the dimensions typed up, SketchUp will automatically convert them for you. Even if you set up your template with a default unit, you can still type in your measurements with different units.

3. Navigate Around the Model

You’ve created a basic shape of your choice. What do you do next? You’ll want to get different perspective views, so navigate around the model to see this. Activate the Zoom and Orbit tools by clicking the central mouse button.

At any time of the modelling phase, you can do this. If you’re using another tool and you need to do this, you can do it confidently. Without changing tools to navigate, click and press down on the middle scroll wheel button to orbit. With this button, you can also zoom in and out.

4. Create 3D Objects Using Push and Pull Tool

With the help of the rectangle tool, you could create a flat rectangle. Now, if you want to make a 3D object, all you need to do is to use the Push and Pull Tool, which will work to squeeze out the face of this shape and help make a box.

For this, you need to activate the Push/Pull tool. Next, hover over the rectangle’s surface. You’ll find that the rectangle’s surface has turned blue, indicating that if you start the push/pull tool, the surface of the rectangle will be squeezed. However, if you have preselected another surface, it won’t become highlighted automatically. Ensure that you know which surface you want to be highlighted before you can use the push/pull tool.

To use the push/pull tool successfully, click, drag and click again. After you have executed the pull, mark off the height at one inch. Type this into the monitor and press Enter. Now, the VCB (Value Control Box) will work with a different format for values, depending on your tool of use.

Since you can only indicate one length, type in just that dimension.

5. Convert the Shape into a Group

By now, you have created your first basic shape using SketchUp. This is the right time to convert it into a group and separate it from any other model you might create. The advantages of doing this are:

  • You will stay organized.
  • Your creations will be unaffected by other related entities.

How to Set Up a Group

To set up a group, choose two or more faces or entities. To choose a group of related faces geometry, click three times on it using the spacebar or Select Tool. This will highlight the area in blue. Next, right- click and choose “Make Group”. You have set up your group.

6. How to Create an Apron

So, you’ve created the group you wanted. Your next step is to lay it open for editing. To check that it’s active, look out for a dotted box surrounding it. When your group is open for editing, whatever you draw will be held inside it. To make a difference to anything lying outside the box, you need to close the box. To do this, select something outside the box.

If you want to create an apron, you can do it now that your group is open to editing. Use the Offset tool which will help you make a shape by using an already existing group of connected lines to make an outline of. Next, scale them to the dimension required.

To use the Offset Tool:

  1. Hover your mouse over the surface that you want this tool to draw on.
  2. Keep at this until the area is highlighted. You should also be able to see the red dot on the line that want to use the tool from.
  3. Click to start the tool and drag it inside to about two inches. Click once more to finish. To stipulate an absolute distance, type 2″ on your keyboard. Press Enter.

Once again, use the Offset Tool to make another rectangle inside the one you’ve already created. However, this time type into the computer system 3/4″ offset.

7. Push/Pull the Apron

Activate this tool by pulling the apron by 3″. After creating the apron, close the group by clicking once outside the group using the spacebar. The dotted line around the group will disappear, proving it has closed.

8. Creating the Table’s Legs

All the legs of this table will be identical, so if you have already created one leg, you can now replicate it for the other legs. If you want to make changes to be reflected on all the other components of the type, use one component instead of a whole group.

To begin, create a 2″,2″ square with the rectangle tool. To initiate the rectangle tool, zoom into a corner of the table apron and indicate the corner point. Now, use the push/pull tool to pull at the square so that it measures 30″.

With the spacebar, click three times on the leg you’ve just created. It should be highlighted blue. Right-click and click “Make Component.” The “Create Component” Window opens now, and you must enter your name. Ensure that you check “Replace selection with component” and then click “Create”.

9. Copy Leg Component

With one leg component ready, it’s time to copy it to the other three corners of the table. Activate the Move Tool and click outside the corner of each leg to initiate the move. To make a copy, tap (CTRL). Drag the copy on to the other side of the table till the line at the apron snaps.

Use the spacebar to select both legs simultaneously. Select a leg by clicking it and then press on the (CTRL) key till you click the other leg. Now, both legs will be selected together.

Use the Move Tool again and click the same corner on the first leg so that you make the required move. Tap the right arrow key to get into the red axis. Now, indicate any point in plane, specifying the distance at which the legs should be copied. Next, click on the apron’s upper inside corner to finish the move.

10. Group and Rotate

Whenever you want to group and rotate, choose all parts of the entire group together. You can then move them all in toto, instead of individually. At this time, choose between wanting to create a component or a group. If you want to have several copies of any one table, go with a component. Else, a group will serve you well.

Here’s a good video you can watch:


Could you follow the directions here to finish constructing the model without much difficulty? If yes, you can start making your own models and set off on your career in woodworking. All you need to do is to use the basic and important skills taught here and apply them to any models you might want to create. If for some reason, you do find yourself stuck, you can always consult other websites dealing with the same subject.

Author: John Clax

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