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Forum topic by Mark Colan posted 09-27-2010 02:35 AM 1863 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Colan

210 posts in 2815 days

09-27-2010 02:35 AM

I find Sketchup difficult to start using, even though I’m an experienced computer user, and have used various drawing programs before.

As a learning project, I want to create a model of the basement area that I am building cabinets into. I have built a closet, and there are obstacles to be drawn in the diagram (gas meter, etc). I am starting by using a learning template, which appears to be 2D. Eventually I will want to change it into a 3D diagram, if possible.

The first thing I need to do is draw some rectangles of specific sizes at specific coordinates. I found a help topic on drawing Precise Polygons by typing in the coordinates and size, but it refers to a Measurements toolbar. I did find out how to display it, but it does not allow me to type into it.

Another thing I would like to do is to change the default browser for looking at help topics. Even though I have the latest Google Chrome browser installed (it is EXCELLENT, by the way), Sketchup insists on starting Microsoft Internet Explorer(!) when I ask for help. My default system browser is Chrome. I figured maybe in the Preferences I could change it, but I don’t see a way.

Please comment on whether my approach for starting is good, and whether you have answers to Precise Polygons and Measurements, and default browser.


-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

5 replies so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3725 days

#1 posted 09-27-2010 02:38 AM

Send a message to DaveR he’s the MAN for Sketchup!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View SWM's profile


94 posts in 3027 days

#2 posted 09-27-2010 02:49 AM

There is definately a learning curve to sketchup. Sounds like you have the right idea to start getting familiar with the program. I ran across this website that really helped me get the basics. Honestly, I watched them all the way through once. Then I went back and worked along with the videos at my own pace.

-- Working on a retirement hobby, only 30 more years to practice!

View smgaines's profile


22 posts in 2771 days

#3 posted 09-27-2010 02:57 AM

Sketchup does take getting some used to. What you’re talking about threw me off as well when I first started learning the program. If you look in the bottom right side of your screen you’ll see a box that kind of looks like a text box in a form. That’s where the measurements that you type in will display.

Do this as an experiment. Take your rectangle tool and draw a small rectangle. Once it’s drawn just type in 10, 15 (be sure and use the comma) and hit enter. If you look in that box in the bottom right you should see 10, 15 display. Once you hit enter the rectangle will be 10 inches by 15 inches assuming your using inches as your unit of measure.

Next take the push/pull tool and start to pull the box up once you start to pull it up type in 15 and hit enter. This should make the box 15 inches high.

It does take a little bit to get comfortable moving around in it but stick with it.

I hope this helps.

-- Scott, Georgia

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3618 days

#4 posted 09-27-2010 03:32 AM

there are quite a bit of questions, so lets handle them 1 at a time.

1. yes, SketchUp does have a learning curve, even for experienced computer people – heck – even for experienced CAD users (those usually have the hardest time with the app). that is normal, and expected. give it time, and it’ll become a valuable tool just like any other woodworking tools in the shop

2. drop the 2D->3D concept. simply work in 3D from the get go, since SketchUp always draws in 3D anyways (the 2D camera representation if a faux 2D as it just shows you things from 1 orthagonal angle. just work in perspective 3D unless you HAVE to revert to 2D orientation for specific reasons (I rarely if ever found a need for this in SU.

3. to draw rectangles of known sizes do the following:
a. click the origin of the rectangle
b. drag the mouse in the direction of where you want the rectangle to be drawn (this tells SU the direction of the drawing)
c. without any special clicking, or special mouse positioning – simply TYPE in the dimensions of the rect. with a comma separating the width from length (example: 20”,10” will draw a rectangle 20” wide, 10” long). hit return to have the shape drawn – play around with it to get a feel for it.

many tools and operations in SU are typing friendly, you start an operation, move mouse to tell SU the direction, and type the dimension desired followed by RETURN to draw precise shapes.

4.For precise positioning of additional shapes (holes, openings, etc) you can use the guide tool which will draw a guideline X distance from a given line/shape/object/point.

5. most important of all – start getting accustomed to USING COMPONENTS. I won’t get too deep into this here, as it will take too long – but google around, check FWW design-click-build for tutorials about it. you can also check my SketchUp blogs here for some mention and usage of these techniques – not only will it ease your modeling, but it will make most operations feasible rather than impossible.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3068 days

#5 posted 09-28-2010 12:20 AM


I designed Tool & Die projects using Autocad 20+ years ago (no 3D) and did some intense projects. You’re right, as I’m having a hard time grasping SU.
If I never had CAD experience, I probably would be a whiz at SU.

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