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Thread: Getting into Sketchup

  1. #1

    Getting into Sketchup

    I'd like to move from paper to CAD as my woodworking evolves. It looks like Sketchup is popular among hobby woodworkers. Here are a couple of basic questions:
    1. I see on Sketchup site they offer free, 'shop' and 'pro' versions. The 'pro' at $300/yr is not in the cards for me, but what exactly do I get with the $120/yr subscription over a free service? Which version(s) do you folks have?
    2. I see Dave Richards video and Tim Killen's book as popular intro materials. Is that still the recommended intro for a first-time hobbyist?
    3. I'm about due for a new laptop. Are there particular Sketchup requirements/demands that I should be aware of in picking a new machine?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    I tried using Sketchup but found it frustrating to learn. I switched to Sketchlist3D and got the hobby version for $149 (one time fee, not a subscription service). It is made for woodworking so it’s much easier to use.

    They now have a cabinet wizard which comes with 10 or 11 pre-made “models”. By changing the dimension on one part, the wizard automatically resizes all other parts which are affected by the change.

    www.sketchlist.com
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  3. #3
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    I have the Dave Richard's video and plan on getting his Advanced Techniques video. Dave is a member here and is always extremely generous with his time in answering users questions. There is a learning curve.

    Disclaimer- Dave is a friend with whom I met here at SMC, collaborated on a project of his and shared dinner with he and his lovely wife in a small town in Wisconsin. We also consumed a couple beers that night dinner.
    Ken

  4. #4
    There are times when this site makes me feel like I spent the last 10 years living under a rock. I tried Sketchup, hated it, went back to paper. I had never heard of Sketchlist, but from the website it looks exactly like what I want.

  5. #5
    Thanks folks. Could anyone compare the learning curve for Sketchup vs Sketchlist? I did try out Sketchup, and it does seem I'll need significant help to get started.

  6. #6
    Welll, I am going to contradict myself. I looked at Sketchlist, thought about what I might want to do and decided to just march in the trenches and learn Sketchup. My recommendation is find and download SketchUp Make 2017. That is the last free version that was stand-alone for the desktop, I'm running it on windows 10 with no issues. I also downloaded Google SketchUp 8. I did this because the FWW SketchUp course is run in SU8. This is also running on Win 10 with no issues.

    I did a career in software, proprietary products left me old and bitter, so I very much like open source. SketchUp Make 2017 is about as close as I can find. There seems to be a thriving community behind it, who give me cool things for free so I don't have to learn Ruby and go back to coding. I am less concerned about ease of use than I am about survivability. I can learn to overcome design quirks, having my knowledge base obsoleted will please me not at all.

    I am just completing a total rework of my shop, trying to learn and build original design, and pretty much starting from advanced-beginner/low intermediate to try and build skills. I will just hunker down and learn this sucker. IMHO this is where woodworking design and planning is going to go for the immediate future. I see lots of SU in FWW and Popular Woodworking, and at Rockler and Woodcraft and my other vendors. I do not see Fusion, AutoCAD, others. I am very sorry, but installed base beats superior design in the software arena.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    I'd like to move from paper to CAD as my woodworking evolves. It looks like Sketchup is popular among hobby woodworkers. Here are a couple of basic questions:
    1. I see on Sketchup site they offer free, 'shop' and 'pro' versions. The 'pro' at $300/yr is not in the cards for me, but what exactly do I get with the $120/yr subscription over a free service? Which version(s) do you folks have?
    2. I see Dave Richards video and Tim Killen's book as popular intro materials. Is that still the recommended intro for a first-time hobbyist?
    3. I'm about due for a new laptop. Are there particular Sketchup requirements/demands that I should be aware of in picking a new machine?

    Thanks in advance.
    From what I saw, the Sketchup Pro is a lot of money for a few feature, mostly features used by people who need the connections with other software or team members. I downloaded the free version a few years ago and it came with a trial period of the Pro features. I didn't see anything in there that would make it worth paying $700 or whatever they are asking now, not for my use.

    I bought Sketchup when it first came out many years ago, developed by @Last software, sold to Google, then sold to it's current owner Trimble. When I downloaded the Sketchup Make I got out my old book from years ago and guess what, very little has been changed in the core features of the software! I worked through the tutorials in the old book and everything worked the same way, with minor UI exceptions, including some problems in the original version. My take: with the changing of the owners I suspect there is no one at Trimble who understands the core of the software enough to dare to make any but cosmetic changes and added on features. The basics of the way you model, snaps, and interact with the software are the unchanged. This is unfortunate because compared to some other 3D software the limitations are significant.

    BTW, I used Autodesk/Kinetix/Discreet software for years for my work, from AutoCad to 3D Studio Max and was a lead support person on the 3DS internet forum. Believe me, Sketchup cannot be compared, it's a toy compared to 3DSMax and so limited by it's underlying architecture and design philosophy. But that said, it can still be a big help for woodworkers once you learn the program. The dimensioning is good and the relational snaps are about as good as it gets. What you don't get is the ability to go way back and make changes early in the creation of objects and modifiers - for many changes you just have to start over and make the object again. It also lacks native professional materials, rendering, lighting, camera, and animation features built into the high end software. These might keep you doing making film industry-quality work but won't stop you from designing and previewing woodworking projects!

    The learning curve for Sketchup (and nearly any 3D software) can be an effort. As always, I recommend doing every tutorial you can find. Try out things after each one and think of variations and try to make them work. When you've worked through everything, start over again and do them all again! The second time is where the details really sink in. Unless things have changed, Sketchup does not come with a complete set of good tutorials. I think they have a set of videos. Perhaps you can find a good 3rd party book to work from.

    My middle son is an architect and he uses Sketchup effectively in his work. I've used Sketchup for designing buildings here at my farm and also to illustrate some woodturning things. For example, I used it to create document illustrations for a simple and inexpensive sharpening system for woodturning tools a turning friend developed, extremely simple models but enough to do the job:

    sharpA_system_smaller.jpg sharpC_platform_dim_small.jpg sharpD4_arm_smaller.jpg sharpE_jig_dim_small.jpg

    I realized I didn't address one of your questions. The video configuration of the computer hardware can make a huge difference. Sketchup can take advantage of display acceleration hardware but there are certain configurations it does not play well with. When I first installed it on a laptop I experienced a horrible lag in interactivity - some operations took several seconds to respond and update the screen making it quite frustrating to use (actually useless). I was able to get it to work well by changing some parameters in my display acceleration software - can't remember what now but any computer you use is probably different. I recommend checking with Trimble to make sure the hardware on your computer is on their compatibility list. It's been several years so perhaps they have gotten smarter about make it work with all hardware.

    JKJ

  8. #8
    I have a long history of using CAD from the earliest days of PCs and I use Sketchup a lot for woodworking projects. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you have it down you can fly. I can recommend Joe Zeh's training courses (and his books). He is a long time woodworker (and an engineer) and his training is aimed at woodworkers. Not production cabinet shops, but folks making furniture and similar projects. In particular, he teaches how to properly use components and layers to simplify managing complex assemblies. His Layer manager extension (available in the extension warehouse) makes it trivial to work with layers and scenes in SU. I believe the layer manager extension is free. He sells, for a modest fee, another extension that allows exporting SU projects to Cutlist Pro FX, which is a great program for creating cutting lists and sheet goods layouts. (CL PRO is not free).

    I have no association with any of these products/etc, other than I found/find them really useful when working with SU. Good luck and have fun!
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    Thanks folks. Could anyone compare the learning curve for Sketchup vs Sketchlist? I did try out Sketchup, and it does seem I'll need significant help to get started.
    I tried out Sketchlist3D using the free trial and picked it up pretty quick watching their YouTube videos. They also have a blog to get help from.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Makar View Post
    There are times when this site makes me feel like I spent the last 10 years living under a rock. I tried Sketchup, hated it, went back to paper. I had never heard of Sketchlist, but from the website it looks exactly like what I want.
    Quote Originally Posted by Josko Catipovic View Post
    Thanks folks. Could anyone compare the learning curve for Sketchup vs Sketchlist? I did try out Sketchup, and it does seem I'll need significant help to get started.

    John's post is a good example of how different needs are met by different products. Consider what you are wanting to do. That being said, I too was on the verge of throwing in the towel on SU despite decades of 2D experience. Dave Richard's help led me to that "eureka" moment when I realized I was working within a #D "space", not drawing a 3D picture.

    Dave's first Sketchup Basic disc taught me more by watching "how" he was doing things that what he was actually demonstrating. That is not to devalue the flow of the instructions. I am just saying, pay attention to how he does what he does as well as what he is doing. After that disc and the postings by Dave and Tim on Fine Woodworking online (with a subscription) I have found tutorials that well exceed my intended use. I do not require a fully rendered representation for a bid. I just want to design and then make a parts list from that design.
    Who knows what stands in front of,
    our lives; I fashion my future on films in space.

  11. #11
    I am finally diving into Sketchup in order to draw (model) in 3D so I can visualize my projects better. I have a Pro subscription as I need to be able to import and export dxf files in my business for cnc work and I want to be able to use various available extensions and Layout for drafting. The cost is $299/year. I don't like the subscription model, but that's the way most software is peddled these days. The fact that there is a huge user base including my son and numerous people at my old employer means I can get hands-on help. I know it has its limitations for complex curved work, but I have made only a few things in my 40 year career that couldn't be modeled in Sketchup.

    I have Joe Zeh's book and am working through it. It seems to be a pretty good introduction, and it starts right off with some basic principles regarding components and layers that make a lot of sense.

    Here's an explanation of Sketchup free vs Shop vs Pro versions https://mastersketchup.com/sketchup-...e-shop-studio/.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 01-25-2020 at 1:45 PM.

  12. #12
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    I invested three solid weeks (about 200 hours total) in trying to get up to speed with Sketchup. I took a class at North Bennett Street school, worked on it, got one-on-one tutorials from Dave Richards (who is beyond fabulous both as a teacher and with his generosity with his time), and finally got to the point where in hours I could generate what would take me minutes to draw by hand. For my purposes (one-off drawings of furniture designs for my own use) it wasn't worth the time and effort, and I've reverted to paper and pencil. (That mechanical drawing class I took in 8th grade is still paying returns!)

    The best drawing program I ever used was something called MacDraw back in the early 1980's. It allowed you to make nice dimensioned 2d drawings in a completely simple and intuitive way. It was perfect for my needs (I would dearly love to find such a program again). It was then subjected to feature bloat and was subsequently replaced by software that became even more bloated and unusable. I have to admit that now when I need a good looking picture for some reason I resort to Powerpoint or Illustrator.

    I have to admit, I still don't understand why I would need or want 3d drawing for the woodwork I do in my shop. It adds nothing to my comprehension of the shape of the object that I can't get from looking at the front, side, and top view in 2d, and is near useless for construction purposes. (never did figure out how to get useful construction drawings out of Sketchup even after the model was built)

  13. #13
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    Software updates, upgrades, fixes etc....those are things I miss the least since retirement. Manual drafting does not need to be learned over and over again and it does not distract me from designing.

  14. #14
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    I tried SketchUp and it was a no go for me. Just couldn't grasp it. SketchList 3D is what I use and it is great.
    Michael Dilday
    Suffolk, Va.

  15. #15
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    I've used the free version SketchUp for several projects. I went through the SketchUp for woodworkers DVDs and once I learned to make everything a component, that made it much easier. Recently, I've started learning Fusion 360 and I'm having to totally change my way of thinking (SketchUp uses direct modeling and Fusion 360 uses parametric). I've switched because I'm interested in doing some 3D printing and small CNC work. Fusion 360 is free for hobbyists and commercial businesses with less than a certain revenue ($100,000 per year I think). Between those two, I think SketchUp is easier to learn, but Fusion 360 give me more opportunity down the road.

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