I spent the week before Labor Day teaching a group of woodworkers the fine points of SketchUp at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Franklin, Indiana. It’s the fourth year that I’ve taught this class, and it’s a real treat to spend time in a great facility. Marc’s school is incredibly well run, with a friendly and talented staff, first-rate equipment, and great lunches and snacks, including a soft-serve machine in the cafeteria.
This year’s group kept me on my toes, and they made the leap from knowing a little bit about SketchUp to having the ability to make the program fly. There are a lot of resources online for learning SketchUp, and many people get along with free videos and blogs. But it takes a lot of time to search out the good stuff and only in a class can you get instruction tailored to the way you learn, and help with the tricky stuff you might not get right away.
I’ve spent a lot of time studying what people struggle with when they learn SketchUp, and classes are structured to build a firm foundation on the basic skills of modeling and navigating. There is plenty of time for practice when new skills are introduced and questions from students lead us in interesting directions.
When you understand the nature of things in SketchUp, how objects behave (and sometimes misbehave) and interact, modeling and designing become efficient and enjoyable. Details like mortise and tenon joints, dovetails, raised panel doors and cabriole legs become simple when you’ve been shown how to make them. In many ways learning a new software program resembles learning a new language. This is especially true with SketchUp and the need to learn how to get around in 3D space complicates things considerably.
The benefits of having SketchUp skills are real and obtainable. When you make a model of your next project, you’re not just producing drawings, you’re practicing building, solving problems and catching mistakes that waste time and expensive materials. If your woodworking is for pleasure, the time you spend modeling improves the quality of the time you spend in the shop. If you work wood as a business, or are considering starting a woodworking business, skills in using SketchUp will make it easier to sell, estimate, plan and control costs.
Thousands of people have learned how to use SketchUp with my book “Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp”. It’s a pretty good book (if I say so myself) but sometimes it takes someone showing you how and then looking over your shoulder and saying “click this, not that” to get over the hump. The classes I teach will improve your skills in SketchUp, and those skills will make you a better woodworker. We learn from each other and we have a lot of fun.
My schedule for next year’s classes will be posted soon. Send me an e-mail if you have an interested group and we can talk about bringing a weekend or week-long close to your neighborhood.