If you build furniture, there are a bunch of steps that have to take place, whether you like it or not. The parts need to go from rough lumber to finished size, and those parts have to connect with the other parts. For every step there are a number of decisions to make: What size does this need to be to fit into that? How far away from that edge does this hole need to be? And so on. Woodworking is about 90% problem solving. The other 10% is cutting to a line and recovery after you miss a line.
If you’re goal is to actually build something, and get it completed in your own lifetime, you can’t afford to fool around with the process. When I’m in the shop I want to get in the rhythm of building and concentrate on hitting the line, I don’t want to be making design and engineering decisions. The examples on this page are typical scenarios. I can’t cut to the lines until they are in place, and I need to know where the lines go. If I wait until I’m in the shop to figure that out, I’m making a bad choice. In the shop, the consequences of a bad decision are costly; wasted material and wasted time. If I solve the problem in SketchUp, I can “Undo”, the materials don’t cost anything and I can turn one half of a joint into the matching half.
Those who criticize adding details to a SketchUp model usually argue that it takes longer to model the joints than it would take to make the real thing. SketchUp is a lot like playing the guitar. You can pick a guitar up, learn a few chords, play some songs and think you’re a musician, but you’re just scratching the surface. In SketchUp you can learn a few tools and their operations and think you’ve gone as far as you need to.
If you practice, and practice good technique, it doesn’t take that long to really make progress. When you really get what SketchUp can do you spend very little time drawing, you know how to leverage what you already have and the power of copying and modifying what already exists. Then you can reap the benefits and add useful details with a few clicks of the mouse. The time you spend modeling saves you time when you build. When you become adept at SketchUp you head out to the shop fully prepared to build. You’ll know what goes where, how this connects to that, and the sequence of the job at hand. You’ll be free to worry about hitting the line and what to do if you just happen to miss it.
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