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Sketchup As A Woodworking Design Tool #1: Making Cabinet Doors With The Follow Me Tool

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Blog entry by Brad_Nailor posted 11-05-2007 07:04 AM 24525 reads 14 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sketchup As A Woodworking Design Tool series Part 2: The Virtual Woodshop »

Hello everyone! Since I discovered Sketchup several years ago (I have been Skecthing since release 3..pre Google) I have spent a great deal of time watching tutorials and prowling through the forums trying to learn as much about this great software as I can! Since I have been a member here I have seen some great blogs by other members about Sketchup and how to use it, so I thought I would throw my hat in the ring! I see allot of people saying I wish I could use Sketchup better, or I gotta learn Sketchup. I personally think it is one of the best tools you can use for designing woodworking and furniture projects. So I want to write this blog to try and get some of you interested in learning how to use this great tool, and to share some of the tricks and knowledge I have picked up along the way to make everyone love this software as much as I do! To me this is as important as any tool I have in my shop!

I found this little trick in the SU forum I wish I could remember who posted the original idea..I even went back and searched for it so I could give the guy credit, but I couldn’t find the thread…so let me say that I DID NOT THINK OF THIS..although I wish I had ‘cause it’s pretty neat!. But anyways this is the coolest way to make cabinet doors I have seen yet. Oh sure, you could draw all your parts and put them together but that could be time consuming and not as much fun as this method! So here goes..I wish the pics could be larger, but we are limited to 640×480, but I think you can get the idea of what I am trying to do here. Lets start off with a simple flat panel door

First. draw a rectangle the dimensions being that of the cabinet door you would like to make. This door is 12”x30”
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Next, draw the profile of the door parts 2D as if cut in half. This door has 2” wide stiles and rails 1” thick, and a 1/4” flat panel center thats 8” wide. Don’t bother with detailing the groves or joinery it wont be seen. But if you want any profiles or fancy edges on the rails and styles you would want to have that included.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Ok, next select all the geometry associated with the door profile (an easy way to select all touching geometry is to triple click) then you want to rotate your door profile so its standing perfectly vertical. You do this with the rotate tool
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Ok, now here comes the fun part..while all the geometry is still selected grab the bottom corner of the profile with the move tool and move it to the center of the left hand vertical line in your size rectangle.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Now, select the follow me tool, and click on the face of your door profile. Then, you start to move it around the door size outline following the edges. Sometimes the tool wigs out a little and you will get a weird looking result…don’t worry just click undo and try again. It takes a little practice to get used to the follow me tool.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Finish by clicking back where you started and if you did it correctly, you should have something that looks like this…
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Then get out your trusty eraser, and erase the uneeded lines and you should have this..
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I know some of you guys are saying “wheres the rail and stile ends”...I hear ya man..just get out the line tool and draw them in and presto..instant flat panel cabinet door!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
You could copy that one door as many times as you needed and then use the scale tool to resize it for the other cabinets, but I find if your not careful with the scale tool it changes other dimensions that you dont want changed. I think it would be just as easy to use this method to create one of each door size then copy them as needded.

So now your saying “works ok for a plain flat panel but what about a raised panel” Well lets try one..
Same size rectangle as the one we used before…
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The door profile is the same only I have a 2” bevel from the center of half the panel in to the frame
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Move that onto your size rectangle, snapping the lower corner to the center mark..
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Then, use the follow me tool just like the last door..
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
If all the planets were in alignment (and your follow me tool was also) you should have a result that looks like this..
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Once again we turn to Mr. eraser, carefully remove the uneeded lines (not your bevels), and draw in you rail and stile ends and just like that, before the cat has a chance to choke up a hairball you have a raised panel cabinet door!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pretty neat huh? I thought it was when I read the original thread. You can get as fancy or as plain as you want with rail and stile edges ( coves, beads, round overs), and raised panel design just draw it in the door profile. If you rotate the door around you will notice there is no bottom on it, but most of the time if your doing a cabinet or kitchen model your only going to see the front anyways. Now go crank up your copy of Sketchup and make some doors!

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248



12 comments so far

View Lboy's profile

Lboy

184 posts in 3548 days


#1 posted 11-05-2007 07:50 AM

Thanks for the tip. I have been trying to learn sketchup, however, I’m faster with paper and pencil and the frustration level is way low with the pencil.

View coloradoclimber's profile

coloradoclimber

548 posts in 3534 days


#2 posted 11-05-2007 02:34 PM

That is pretty cool, thanks for that tip.

I know there are smarter / more productive ways to use sketchup. Mostly I’ve been using it the draw it a line at a time method, kind of like 2d drafting in 3d. I like seeing these tips, it helps break me out of old mindsets.

View miles125's profile

miles125

2180 posts in 3472 days


#3 posted 11-05-2007 02:46 PM

I’m concerned software like sketchup will do to peoples sketching skills what the pocket calculator did to peoples math skills.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

5257 posts in 3348 days


#4 posted 11-05-2007 04:13 PM

Thanks for the tips, and in a friendly teaching environment. I have used a lot of other CAD tools and SU is a bit unique. I got to learn to think their way. Keep it coming.

Thanks again,
Steve

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3428 days


#5 posted 11-05-2007 04:18 PM

This some great stuff. At present i am using it to do 2D drawings and saving myself some time. I keep using it and adding to my knowledge but not fast enough. David, why don’t yhou staqrt a once per week tutorial blog with Bob Babcock and get the rest of us up to speed. Many of us would appreciate it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3340 days


#6 posted 11-05-2007 04:24 PM

Miles, you haven’t seen my sketching skills before SketchUp! Personally, I’m more concerned about what TV has done to people’s reading and writing and creative thinking skills.

To get a different width of the same profile door, copy the original, then select one stile, the adjacent rail ends, and the nearest edge of the panel profile and move them to the new width. The rest of the door will stretch to match. To resize height, follow the same steps, but select a rail instead of a stile.
Resize by moving stile

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Brad_Nailor's profile

Brad_Nailor

2539 posts in 3423 days


#7 posted 11-05-2007 06:06 PM

Thanks for all the comments guys!
@Miles..I can’t sketch at all…thats what prompted me to get into drafting in the first place…god bless the T-square!
@Peter..Thanks for chiming in with that tip… thats a much better way to re size the doors than using the scale tool.

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3428 days


#8 posted 11-06-2007 05:38 AM

I better go up to Emmitt for a day or two.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3340 days


#9 posted 11-06-2007 05:51 AM

Ha! Sure, Tom – I’ll send you my rate card for software training!

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View johngoes's profile

johngoes

54 posts in 2908 days


#10 posted 12-28-2008 08:21 PM

This may be stale but I learned that if you preselect the border you want follow me to follow it will automatically fill out the shape without having to manually follow the lines.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

View thelt's profile

thelt

661 posts in 2846 days


#11 posted 03-18-2009 04:52 PM

Next, draw the profile of the door parts 2D as if cut in half. This door has 2” wide stiles and rails 1” thick, and a 1/4” flat panel center thats 8” wide. Don’t bother with detailing the groves or joinery it wont be seen. But if you want any profiles or fancy edges on the rails and styles you would want to have that included.

That’s the part I really don’t understand. I tried drawing it with lines and rectangles and it still don’t work.

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

View Brad_Nailor's profile

Brad_Nailor

2539 posts in 3423 days


#12 posted 03-18-2009 07:18 PM

Thelt..
You want to draw a profile of the door as if you sliced it in half and was looking squarely at the section. Draw it flat on the ground in the red/green axis and then when you get it worked out the way you want it then rotate it (stand it up) and place it on your guidelines for the door dimensions as I indicated in the drawing.

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

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