You’ve probably heard of Google’s SketchUp. It’s a 3-D design and drawing program that’s easy to learn but very powerful. (I wrote about SketchUp in Woodsmith 167.) And there’s a free version you can download here (the Pro version costs $495 — still a bargain compared to other design software). I use it to draw up rough sketches of projects I’m designing or to work out some tricky dimensions.
I grew up in the AutoCAD world (since version 2.52 for those of you keeping notes). So I’m familiar with high-priced CAD packages. And I’ve gotta’ say that SketchUp can’t be beat for the price. AutoCAD started back in the 1980’s as a two-dimensional drawing program and as such, has never quite been able to shake off that legacy. It’s become a powerful drawing program, but it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the newer 3-D packages. While SketchUp isn’t meant for creating detailed CAD drawings, it’s ideal for conceptual 3-D design.
A lot of woodworkers have discovered the ease of use in designing projects using SketchUp. And the challenge has been made over on WoodNet to show off your SketchUp models. Some folks have even placed their models up on Google’s 3D Warehouse so you can download them into SketchUp and modify them.
SketchUp’s online help and resources are second to none and worth checking out if you want to get the most out of SketchUp. And there’s an independent online community you can join at www.Sketchucation.com.
So don’t be shy! Head on over to WoodNet and post your best SketchUp models.