SketchUp, SketchUp Illustration, Woodworking Plans in Progress
Comments 9

Media Cabinet Woodworking Plan Update

Since the window seat bookcase has been completed, time to bring to life one of my inactive SketchUp projects: a new woodworking plan titled The Versatile Media Cabinet. This plan originally got underway sometime in early March of this year, but I put it on hold so I could concentrate on finishing the window seat bookcase.

Just like the window seat bookcase, I am trying some new things with this new woodworking plan (see some of the new things here). I have long had a goal of creating near magazine quality plans. As I get new copies of Fine Woodworking, I pay close attention to the illustrations they use. In my plans, I use SketchUp to illustrate the construction process, but SketchUp has some limitations; specifically x-ray views to show hidden joinery, or better said; joinery which is out of view. The illustrators at FWW typically draw in blue lines to show such joinery. See below (click to enlarge)…

Note how blue is used to show some of the hidden joinery.

Note how blue is used to show some of the non-visable joinery.

Even though I have tried several different ways to pull this off, I have not been able to create the same look using a combination of SketchUp and Photoshop. I am confident it can be done; just need the right teacher. 🙂

During the past week, I have added some new pages to The Versatile Media Cabinet plan. I am also refining some of the previous pages. Some of changes which are typical of the editing which I  go through are shown below…

Page 11 before...

Page 11 before…

Note how the image tilts pointing to the lower left of the page. While thumbing through the plan, this page and page 10 both had images which point in the same direction. I did not like this look, so page 11 got a change.

Page 11 after.

Page 11 after.

The current view of page 11 had the image straight and centered on the page. I am about 85% happy with how this looks. I may change it further; maybe a box around the text below the image.

Even better page 11.

Even better page 11.

One thing that Tim Killen wrote about recently at Fine has to do with grain direction which makes viewing a SketchUp document harder to understand (see “Showing Grain Direction Without Spoiling the Drawing” by clicking here). I learned early on that adding a lot of grain or even too many objects can be confusing.

With this woodworking plan, I simply leave grain direction off most of the images, but I do like the visual gained from color, so some of the images have grain direction and other embellishments.

On page 16, I had originally wanted to show, in full color, some of the needed parts for drawer guides sitting on a workbench…

Old page 16

I felt all this color was distracting or as Tim Killen says “spoils the drawing.” And it does. So, I reworked the image to be easier to view.

Page 16 and less distracting.

Page 16 and less distracting.

And so the work on this plan continues. I am about 2/3 finished; I’m working on the section where the drawers are being built. Here is what The Versatile Media Cabinet looks like now (click to see full screen)…

Note that I am in the process of re-arranging the cut list to match a change in the build process. I had originally planned to build the drawers later in the process. Items in the cut list are arranged to match the build process. The cut list is the biggest time hog while making a woodworking plan and this plan is no different.

Still a lot to do before this plan is finished. I hope to have it available for download in a couple of weeks.

* * * * *

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).


  1. Nice work Jeff. The only way I know of achieving the x-ray view/hidden geometry that I know of is when in SketchUp, color the hidden geometry the color you want (lets say red) – just the surfaces that you want to show that is hidden. Then, color the other surfaces (the visible ones) with a translucent color. You can modify the color to something other than the blues that SketchUp defaults to and adjust the opacity too.

    I understand your desire to de-clutter your plans – but it is neat too to see the work pieces on a workbench too. The problem with that is cropping the image as not to confuse the view with pieces of this and that (piece of vise, etc.)

    • I have played around with X-ray and opacity settings along with just line drawings, but I have not found a way to color just part of a component. I think that is where Photoshop will help me. Just need some more practice.

  2. Manuel Driggs says

    The media cabinet really caught my eye. Its beautiful. Its a very practical but beautiful cabinet for anyone who is into high end A/V components and wants something that complements and beautifully displays that equipment. Just as a picture frame should complement a picture or a pedestal complements a sculpture; this magnificent media cabinet will more than complement your A/V equipment. It will make your equipment appear that much more spectacular. Jeff, this media cabinet absolutely ROCKS!!! = )

  3. My suggestion would be making use of the layer settings in Photoshop. If the view of the hidden items are imported as a separate layer, then adjust the blending options with a solid color overlay (the blend mode and opacity of the color overlay can be adjusted).

    For what it’s worth– I like it without the distraction of wood grain. Less is more and all that.

    This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been enjoying your blog for sometime now. As a beginning woodworker, I have really enjoyed learning from you and using your plans to see how different methods can be used for similar applications. I have learned more from you than any other single source I have followed or read and I really appreciate all the time and attention spent on your plans and blog posts.

    • Sarah, First your comments about my blog are very much appreciated; such nice words.

      I’ll attempt what you recommend with Photoshop. I am close to doing what you suggested, but there is a step that I am missing. I’ll keep at it.


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