Many woodworkers attempt to understand the powerful 3D modeling software called SketchUp. And many woodworkers get extremely frustrated with SketchUp because it’s capabilities are so vast, it is hard to learn on your own.
I know because I was one of those woodworkers. Over the last few years, I’ve been determined to learn SketchUp and I have learned a lot, but not all of what I learned has been helpful. Some of the techniques I taught myself are more like bad habits. Until recently, I never had any real training with the software; all of what I had learned was on my own. I came to the conclusion that I had been going about SketchUp in a clumsy way.
I did two things to correct my bad habits: first I purchased a couple of SketchUp books, but I really like a SketchUp DVD by Dave Richards. Both have served me well and I have written reviews of each. I also went through Bob Lang’s enhanced e-book – more about them later. Right now I want to list some very good free resources specific to woodworking…
Most of these sources offer ongoing SketchUp education:
To download the free version called SketchUp Free, click here. You can click “keep exploring plans” to view other SketchUp options like SketchUp Shop and SketchUp Pro. See this SketchUp Pro review I posted for the 2019 version. I also mention other options for the woodworker. I think this can give you a little more insight into the various SketchUp products.
Design. Click. Build. – the SketchUp blog at Fine Woodworking.com where Tim Killen and Dave Richards hang out. There are some very good videos (IMHO, videos are the best way to learn SketchUp). Go to Design. Click. Build. here.
ReadWatchDo.com – Bob Lang’s website where he writes about woodworking and SketchUp; see his main SketchUp page here. For his SketchUp videos, click here and click here for Bob’s latest SketchUp articles.
SketchUp for Woodworkers – a website with at last count, 10 videos on SketchUp, all of them good and very worth the effort to see them all. See SketchUp for Woodworkers here.
SKETCHUP BOOKS AND VIDEOS
SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers – The Basics
This DVD is a great lesson for beginners and more advanced modelers alike. Dave Richards takes the viewer through the process of creating a woodworking project from concept to shop drawings. He reveals his best tips for making SketchUp simple. See my review SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers – The Basics here. I highly recommend this DVD for beginners. It is a great value and video instruction is the way to go when learning SketchUp. Buy it at Taunton Store.com by clicking here. Also consider buying Dave’s advanced SketchUp DVD here.
Bob Lang’s New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp
In Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp Bob Lang combines thorough instruction via text with tons of video. Video is good, and it is even better when a respected SketchUp instructor is guiding the video instruction. Bob’s organized and calm approach to teaching what I view as a complex software program is very much appreciated. See the review of New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp here. Go directly to Bob’s website to buy any of his SketchUp guides by clicking here.
GREAT TIP: Dave Richards on applying wood textures to a SketchUp component. I get compliments on my SketchUp models, but all I do is find realistic wood textures and apply them to components as realistically as possible. Learn how to do this by following Dave’s tutorials here and here (the second link has video to follow).
- First, check out SketchUp’s YouTube channel here. Also their beginner videos here.
- From Bob Lang: 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About SketchUp. A lot of good basic pointers in this list.
- A good video by Dave Richards on moving objects in SketchUp – go here.
- Dave Richards on printing templates – go here.
- Bob Lang on printing templates (video) – go here.
- Matt Donley – 1o Tricks for the Move Tool in SketchUp
- SketchUp: I Can’t Move my Component the way I Want.
- How to align objects in SketchUp (video) – go here.
- One of my SketchUp tips: “Get to Know the Scroll Wheel” – here I offer what I think is one of the most important things to master when learning SketchUp. See the blog post here.
- Another tip: “SketchUp: The Easy Way to Add Wood Texture to Your Model” – the process I took to add a very realistic wood texture to a workbench SketchUp model – See it here.
- And this one: “Creating a Complex Crest Rail in SketchUp” – a challenging task which had me using a lot of brain power. See the blog post here.
- A post at FWW.com by Dave Richards on changing axis and also an important section toward the end on changing origin which is handy for easy knob placement on doors.
As I run across additional sites devoted to SketchUp, I’ll add them here (revised 11/19/18).