Woodworking on the Computer

When my wife says, “Can you build a cabinet with display shelves for that nook in the dining room?” I usually grab my tape measure, pencil, and pad of paper to take measurements and sketch out ideas. But I recently found out about a cool computer program by Google that’s great for trying out design ideas. It’s called SketchUp. Everybody is using it to draw three-dimensional models of everything from the Eiffel Tower to cars to furniture, like the entertainment cabinet shown here.

Entertainment Center

And woodworkers have apparently taken a liking to SketchUp. You can find complete models of workshops, complete with power tools. Or a model of the Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane by Steve Maskery. Or Gidon Reid’s Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Block Plane. You can even design furniture like this entertainment cabinet by “Rommel.”

There are probably a dozen other computer programs that help you design projects, but I really like using SketchUp. I can dimension my projects and print out drawings to take to the shop. If you take the time to go through their excellent tutorials, it’s really not hard to use.

SketchUp is available in a FREE version for personal use. For commercial use and high-quality output, the cost is around $500. Still a bargain for such a useful and powerful program.