“When I became adept at modeling in SketchUp, I became a better woodworker, as have most people I know who have learned how to use this program.” – Bob Lang
his quote is from the opening pages of Robert W. Lang’s new book titled New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp. This is a somewhat bold statement. Within the woodworking universe, there are those who can’t stand the thought of designing via computer. But Bob prefaces these words by saying “thorough planning makes for more enjoyable and more productive time in the shop.” He continues: “If I know how a project will go together before I start cutting wood, I can concentrate on doing my best work in the shop. I’m not side-tracked by math problems or design decisions.”
I know this to be true. I am one of those woodworkers who believes in drawing SketchUp models to a high level, to include as much joinery as possible. With all the details worked out ahead of time, I don’t make as many mistakes or have as many delays. Bob is right when he calls SketchUp “an incredibly valuable tool for the woodworker.”
Bob Lang has been a woodworker for more than 40 years. He is best known for his time at Popular Woodworking where he became Executive Editor. After spending a short period at 360 Woodworking with Chuck Bender and Glen Huey, he left to work on a book titled Teaching Integrity: How Dean Mattson Sells Education to Unteachable Students (read more about this project by clicking here).
All the while, Bob taught SketchUp at locations around the USA. His first book on SketchUp was Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp, then came Building Blocks of SketchUp. And now we have New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp.
The New Guide
I reviewed Bob’s first SketchUp book here. I gave his first book a lot of praise. And why not – it was the only teaching aid which combined text with embedded video. SketchUp is sooo much easier to learn through video. It has been five years since Bob published his first SketchUp book. Now, New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp has been updated and better organized based on comments and feedback Bob has gained from being an instructor. His new book is better in every way – more tips, additional video, easier to use.
One point to understand: This book is meant to work hand in hand with Building Blocks for SketchUp. You get the most fundamental SketchUp instruction with Building Blocks and New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp provides more advanced teaching. The SketchUp newbie really needs both books.
Bob has produced a video which provides a good overview of the book. See it below…
New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp is spread out over 17 chapters and 223 pages. The enhanced PDF file also contains 51 videos. There is a lot of content here.
Why Bob’s Book is Important
SketchUp is a vast software product. Without the help of instruction, SketchUp’s capabilities are such that a woodworker can easily miss all the built-in functions which make the program easier to use. Bob Lang’s experience as a SketchUp instructor has provided him insight into how a teaching tool can best help SketchUp users unlock these subtle functions. New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp will help you understand the little things which have a big impact on modeling.
For example, a tip I uncovered concerns the zoom tool. To zoom in on a specific component, I have always pointed the cursor at the component and then roll the scroll wheel forward. This moves the camera towards the target component. Bob teaches a better way – select the component, right-click it and choose “zoom selection” from the pop-up menu. The needed component instantly fills your computer screen.
Another tip: While working through the exercise for making a cabriole leg, I learned a faster way to hide unwanted lines.
These are just two quick examples – and there scads of similar tips found throughout Bob’s new book. I could go on and on. Bob explains how to use the Cutlist plug-in; the differences between SketchUp Make and SketchUp Pro and much, much more.
Just by reading the comments from a recent blog post provides evidence that there is a large community of woodworkers who want to better understand how to use SketchUp with ease. Two examples:
“Trying to learn SketchUp by using Internet tutorials has been a hit-or-miss proposition. Bob Lang’s book may be what I should have used from the beginning to avoid so much confusion.”
“I’m struggling with the learning curve on SketchUp.”
Here is my recommendation for those who struggle with SketchUp – let Bob Lang help you (I think we all struggle with it from time to time). As he says in his book, SketchUp will help make you a better woodworker. By creating an accurate SketchUp model, you are essentially building your project first within your computer. All the variables can be worked out ahead of time leading to better work flow in the shop.
If you need help, consider buying New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp. Within the pages of this new book, Bob provides a link for a discounted version of his Building Blocks of SketchUp. I purchased Building Blocks and now have both books. By carefully following the text and videos, you will possess highly detailed SketchUp instruction. Plus, you will have SketchUp guides which you can use repeatedly as you become more advanced.
Bob Lang’s New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp is available for purchase by clicking here.
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