Dave Richards, Fine Woodworking, Sawtooth Ideas, SketchUp, Tim Killen
Comments 6

Getting Help With a SketchUp Model

The Pendulum Doll Cradle

The Pendulum Doll Cradle

I just completed my latest assignment for Sawtooth Ideas. The image above shows what is called a “Pendulum Doll Cradle” taken from an issue of Woodcraft magazine.

When I get the email with a new assignment, I always look forward to opening the woodworking plan and looking through the project. I immediately saw this one as something to test my skills since I have not recently attempted creating anything like the spindles needed (read on for more about the spindles).

A lot of curves and eased edges.

A lot of curves and eased edges.

In the image above, note the eased edges on many of the horizontal surfaces. I was nearing completion of the model when I realized I would have to round-over many of the component edges. This was a challenge requiring the use of the offset tool and the follow-me tool. I had some clean-up to do after this process; I am sure there is a plugin which would have worked better, but that would require me to find the plug-in, install it and learn how it works. I didn’t have the time for all of that. Eased edges and spindles – this model was much more curvy than usual.

Getting Help
Another challenge: this was the first time I attempted a round, cylinder shaped object in SketchUp Make. I had successfully completed this kind of task several times with older versions of SketchUp. And keep in mind, I don’t create objects like spindles often but when following Tim Killen creating a similar object at Fine Woodworking.com, I got poor results. Parts of the spindle disappeared upon clicking the follow-me command – see below.

A close-up of the problem - odd gaps after using follow-me.

A close-up of the problem – odd gaps after using follow-me.

Since my attempt did not work, I emailed Tim Killen and asked him to help me understand what I was doing wrong. Tim had the same problem. In the file he sent back to me, he states that the gaps are “strange” (see a close-up of the image above here).

Tim Killen’s Fixed Spindle - note he created eight scenes.

Tim Killen’s fixed spindle – note he created eight scenes.

After scaling up the spindle profile, follow-me is successful and Tim then scales down the spindle to the required size. I am not sure if this is a software bug or what, but in the end the problem was solved.

The point of this though is that both Tim Killen and Dave Richards who write at Fine Woodworking’s Design. Click. Build. blog are very approachable. I have emailed both Tim and Dave several times with questions about SketchUp. They are always helpful – Tim once went the extra mile by creating a YouTube video to show me how to fix a problem. Another example of going the extra mile: in the image above, he created eight scenes to show me the full process for getting the desired results.

This is so true of many things in woodworking – when you hit a snag and need help, just ask. Most woodworkers are more than willing to help. My thanks to both Tim Killen and Dave Richards for being so helpful.

Also, this was a good learning model in that it tested my abilities with SketchUp. I have had other models which have tested both me and my home computer (example here), but this doll cradle was an enjoyable test.


  1. I built this. It was one of my earlier projects and one of the 1st I build straight form plans. My customer (read 7yr. old daughter) was quite pleased!

  2. Jane Branch Bell says

    Such a good point you make in this blog post about reaching out to folks that have similar interests! I love seeing these drawings.

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