Bob Lang, SketchUp, SketchUp Tips and Training
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Bob Lang’s Better SketchUp Guide

“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

This 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.

Conclusion

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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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

9 Comments

  1. This is great. Thanks. I love using sketchup, even though I am not that good at it. It does let me workout a lot of problems before I start cutting things up. I’ll be getting a copy of this book.

    • Andrew, I think it is well worth the money. And Bob shows how to use his book and SketchUp at the same time to work through exercises.

  2. Good review, Jeff. I’ve enjoyed Bob’s previous Sketchup books, and I’ll certainly give the New Woodworkers Guide a good look through.

  3. Thanks for the review Jeff. I have been a professional draftsman for —- um, a long, long time — so I can appreciate building things on paper or on computer prior to actually building it. And you (and Bob Lang) are right, working through all the details on the computer first, will make your shop experience much more enjoyable – and dare I say – your projects much more accurate and reproducible (if that is your thing). Personally I use SketchUp Make for my woodworking designs (AutoCAD at work) and it has thus far has been a great tool. I encourage all my woodworking friends to at least give SketchUp a try. Now I’ll suggest Bob Lang’s book. Thanks again.

      • AutoCAD has its advantages. But SketchUp is much easier to jump into and although most AutoCAD users are now creating most models in 3D, SketchUp is more user friendly. If I were starting a business and was considering a drafting software, I’d be giving serious leverage towards SketchUp (and not just for cost reasons). I us about $10k worth of software (including add in packages) at work. That is crazy expensive. And that doesn’t include the 2 30″ monitors and computer to run them.

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