Use Google Sketch-Up to Plan Woodworking Projects




Introduction: Use Google Sketch-Up to Plan Woodworking Projects

One day I was wondering how I could easily visualize dimensions for a table without drawing it on pencil and paper (I'm a terrible artist). I then stumbled upon this fantastic program called Google Sketch-Up. With Sketch-Up, I was able to locate problems with my original dimensions (too long/short pieces) and render them into a 3-D model and use that model to where I can build the final project in reality! In this Instructable, I will show you how to use Google Sketch-Up to turn dimensions on paper into a 3-D digital model!

Step 1: What You Need to Begin

To start modeling, you will need:

Google Sketch-Up on a Supported PC/Laptop

Dimensions or an Idea of What You Would Like To Model

Patience (To Get Familiar With The Interface)

Step 2: Download and Install Google Sketch-Up

First things first, you have to download and install Sketch-Up to be able to use it. Click here to take you to the Sketch-Up Download site. After you have downloaded everything, open up the EXE and follow all on-screen instructions to complete the installation of Google Sketch-Up.

Step 3: Write Out/Brainstorm Dimensions

Now that you have Sketch-Up installed, you will now have to think about the size/shape of your creation.

Theses Where My Rough Dimension Estimates for the Small End Table:

3/4" x 15" x 15" Table Top x1

2" x 2" x 23.25" Legs x4

1" x 3" x 10.5" Aprons x4

1" x 3" x 10.5" Side Supports x2

1" x 3" x 12" Stretcher x1

Step 4: Choosing Your Layout

Open Up Sketch-Up and select your template as "Woodworking - Inches". Then Hit "Start Using SketchUp". This will then take you to your Drawing/Modeling Interface.

Step 5: Start Designing the Table Top

First move your cursor to the far left side (Drawing Toolbar) and locate the rectangle tool (Rectangle with Diagonal). Select that and move your cursor over to the Origin (Where all axes meet), and left click. From there type your length x width dimensions into the keyboard in this format: 15", 15". You should be able to see what you are typing in the bottom right corner. After you have made the 15" x 15" rectangle, select the Push Pull Tool (Cube with Arrow going Up) and select the top of your rectangle, then type in how high you want your table top to be, for example 3/4".

Step 6: Layout and Modeling of Legs

Next go into Camera>Standard View and select Top. Then press "Z" on your keyboard and zoom into your rectangle. Next press "T" on your keyboard to access the tape measure tool. We will use this tool to layout where the legs will be. Go onto a corner with the Tape Measure, and measure out 3/4" landscape, and 3/4" portrait. this should create two visible dots. Now Measure from those dots 3/4" down from the landscape, and 3/4" out from the portrait. This will give you an area to where your legs can go. Next select the rectangle tool, and go to the inside of the perimeter you have just made (see pics for aid). Then create a 2" x 2" square where marked. Repeat this step for all corners. After making all four leg boxes, select the push/pull tool and raise each leg 23.25". See Pictures to check your progress.

Step 7: Modeling the Aprons

Now that you have finished the legs, its time to make the aprons. Press "O" on your keyboard to use the "Orbit Tool" which allows you to orbit around your model. Orbit to a Leg and Measure 3" up on either side (Sides facing other legs). Then measure 1/2" in on the side of which you measured 3" up. Then select the rectangle tool and start from that 1/2" mark. Create a rectangle that is 3"x 1". Next use the measuring tape to determine the distance between each leg, which came out to be 9 1/2" (My first estimate mistake). Now use the push/pull tool and extend the rectangle to that distance (9.5"). Repeat this step for all four aprons.

Step 8: Modeling the Side Supports

Modeling the Side Supports is almost an identical endeavor as modeling the aprons. But in this case, it's basically upside down. First start by measuring 4" up from the bottom of the leg and then 1/2" in to the leg (side facing another leg). Then create another rectangle going away from the bottom of the leg with the same measurements and pus/pull values of the aprons. Repeat this step for both Side Supports. Make sure each side support is facing the other.

Step 9: Creating the Stretcher

Now that you have your side supports done, It's time to model out the stretcher. First measure the middle of your side support, which should come out to 4.75". Place a reference dot there. Then measure .5" away from the mid point and place a reference dot there. Now create a rectangle just like the aprons and side supports, 3" x 1". After that measure the inside edge of one side support to the other, that should turn out to be 10.5". Use that distance to push/pull it to the other side.

Step 10: Rotating the Table

Now that the Table is completed, It is time to rotate it upright. To do this select one part of the table, then press"ctrl+A" to select it all, then press "Q" on your keyboard and place the double sided protractor onto the Green Axis and rotate 180 degrees by simply typing 180 then pressing enter. Now go into view and deselect "Guides" to remove all dots, and dotted lines.

Step 11: Adding Texture/Softening Edges

Now select everything just like you did to rotate the model. Go into the Window>Material section on the top toolbar and select Material. Now a small window pops up, select from the drop down menu wood. I used the Bamboo(Medium) selection. To add the texture just select the one you want and click on your Model with the paint bucket. After everything is textured, make sure everything is still selected. Right slick on your model and select "Soften Edges". Then select all boxes and move the slider to 115.6 Degrees.

Step 12: Completed!

You have just completed a table in Sketch-Up! Now you can use the tape measure tool to get all your precise measurements and jot them down on a piece of paper and start building!

I have entered this Instructable into the Mind for Design Contest!

Any votes would be greatly appreciated!

Happy Modeling!

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I think I might have seen where you ended up short/long on your projects, you were reading your drawings upside down, lol. But for real thanks for the information but from a year old post Google no longer controls the software and you get 30 day free trial then its time to pay up :(. But in the mean time ill use it while I can.


    4 years ago

    a very helpful article, thank you...


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Really great idea! I usually use Solidworks to design my projects before I make them.