Published by Popular Woodworking Books, Ohio USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 187
It is several years since a contributor introduced SketchUp to readers of The Australian Woodworker. Since then, the program has been mentioned occasionally and it is clear that it has acquired a significant number of users in the woodworking community.
Nevertheless, since it is still unknown to many, it is first necessary to describe the program and indicate what it does that makes it so valuable to woodworkers.
The author of this book says in his introduction: 'SketchUp is a sketching, modelling, rendering and design documentation tool.' (Rendering in this context can be defined as reproducing or representing by artistic means.)
Thatís only part of the story. SketchUp has templates (one Imperial, the other Metric) which are designed specifically for woodworking.
The user can model 3-D depictions of a project, evolve exploded drawings where required, render the 3-D representations to the point of photo-realism and also extract from them the dimensioned drawings needed for the workshop.
SketchUp is an extremely powerful program offering its user effective insight into even complex furniture designs and robust control over the drawings required for their execution.
The program is available in two versions. The one of interest here is SketchUp Make which, subject to the software supplier's Terms & Conditions, can be downloaded and used free of charge.
The other version is SketchUp Pro. As its name suggests, this is intended for professional use for which it includes additional functionality.
(The program downloads as a trial version of SketchUp Pro, reverting to SketchUp Make after 30 days.)
The book ignores SketchUp Pro and focusses on the huge range of features available in the free version. Since it originates in the United States, it uses the Imperial woodworking template, but most of the text is concerned with graphical representation so this is not likely to be an impediment to readers in Australia or New Zealand.
The contents of the book are far too detailed to be described here in any depth but an overview of the contents should provide an indication of its scope.
The book is divided into three parts. The first covers setting up the SketchUp Workspace and choosing an appropriate Toolbox.
The second part uses a Bedside Table to explore topics such as drawing tapered legs, modelling a traditional drawer, creating shop drawings and texturing the table.
Part three deals with non-rectilinear pieces and complex curves. It includes a number of examples which offer information on handling splayed pieces, tabletop edges with non-circular curves and both bracket feet and Cabriole legs with Bezier curves.
The book concludes with a half dozen appendices: Mac OS X User Help, Preferences, Model Info, Component related Dialog Boxes, SketchUp Viewers and The Warehouse. (The words 'component' and 'warehouse' have specific meanings within SketchUp.)
Those who are new to SketchUp should find that the book offers them the opportunity of quickly grasping not just the essentials of the program but also its finer nuances. While the subject matter is sometimes complex, the author's manner is relaxed and informal, and the text is clearly and sensibly written.
Those who already use SketchUp and who have learned to use the program without the aid of a tutor will, no doubt, use the book differently. Aside from assisting them in managing their interpretation of the features they already use, it is likely to help them discover others which they have previously overlooked.
Photos & Illustrations: Colour
Units of Measurement: Imperial
One - SketchUp's Workbench & It's Tools
Two - The Apprentice & The Bedside Table
Three - The Journeyman & Nonrectilinear Pieces & Complex Curves
A - Mac OS X User Help