Over the past few years, I have used SketchUp as both an aide for building furniture as well as an illustration tool. Some of the SketchUp models have been basic stuff, but many have been very detailed – a painstaking process of making them as realistic as possible. Below is a selection of images of what I feel are some of my best models.
Arts and Crafts Bookcase
This was a model I created for a woodworking plan which was never finished. Not leaving the construction process to guessing, as I documented the steps necessary to build this bookcase, I found it very difficult to easily explain them, so I put it on hold. Hopefully, someday I will finish it.
This is an extremely detailed model, especially as it pertains to the hardware and wood texture. Note the images which show the door pulls as well as the open doors which include the magnetic catches for the doors. Also, I went to great lengths to find an accurate quarter sawn oak texture, then even more time to position, enlarge and correctly orient the grain so it looks as it should.
I created this model about the time I was reading Tim Killen’s Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers. While reading Tim’s ebook, I learned his process for adding photo realistic wood textures to models. The knotty pine shown in the model is an actual photo from the completed bedside table in our home. Just as with the Arts and Crafts Bookcase, proper orientation of grain is tedious, but makes for a handsome look.
The edge molding on the tabletop which has to match seamlessly where the breadboard ends meet the table top was difficult to make as well as the beads which surround the drawer and door opening. Also challenging was the drawer hardware.
Queen Size Bed
I have a stained version of this bed and a version which mimics the wood tone in a natural or pre-stained look. I found the light natural wood texture on-line long ago and really like how it looks. The texture worked very well with the long side rails which was a concern when searching for textures. I also created the metal rail connectors based on the actual ones I used.
There is a darker wood texture which implies a different wood; in this case a hardwood for the components which support the box spring. The two combine to make a handsome two-tone look.
Chamfered Leg Table
This model was created while making my way through Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers. The model gets its name from the table’s slender chamfered legs. The process taught by Tim Killen was novel and extremely complex. The chamfer profile was created and then a copy of it was rotated to the remaining corners of the leg and then intersected. I had never done this before and it took me several attempts to get it right.
The breadboard ends feature three pegged tenons and the dovetailed drawer has a raised panel drawer bottom. The walnut texture looks good, but is maybe a little strong.
This has been the most demanding model to date when it comes to molding. The various moldings which wrap the sides, front and everything in between was a lot of work to create. This model was from my early days with SketchUp – note the basic cherry wood texture in which some of the faces have grain which isn’t oriented correctly. But, the design made this a difficult model to complete; a lot of molding to draw, extrude and then cut.
I have begun creating SketchUp models for a client and this is the second model I completed for them. If you were able to look inside this cabinet, you would see all kinds of joinery: screws, pocket hole screws and biscuits are some of them. The client needs these models to be very detailed and for this model, positioning all the screws was a challenge as well as running molding along the door, drawer and base edges. I worked on and off in my spare time for almost two weeks to complete this model.
Current SketchUp Goals
As I move forward with SketchUp, the things I am wanting to do better center around making my models as realistic looking as possible and making detailed models faster. I have only briefly experimented with photo realistic rendering using programs like Kerkythea; I find this to be very illogical to learn – a lot like SketchUp, so it is something I just need to stick with and learn. Also, I am trying to better organize components within SketchUp’s component window so I can quickly find specific screw for example, and position it accurately in the model.
I also would like to move up to SketchUp Pro at some point, but that upgrade is off in the future somewhere. These complex models are not only challenging for me, but my computer is starting to have trouble creating them, becoming at times very slow – which means I will probably need to look into more computing power.