Category Archives: Google SketchUp

SketchUp “Guide Lines” speed up drawing construction

I have found StektchUp “Guide Lines” to be another very useful tool.   They allow you to put dotted lines in measured locations on your construction drawing as reference points during construction of your model.   This saves a significant amount of measuring time, etc.  This is another tool that seems “hidden.”  I didn’t know it was there until reading a book recently.

To create a “Guide Line” (Google uses two words instead of “guideline” for some reason), use the TAPE MEASURE tool as usual, but toggle “guide lines” on before hand with the CTRL key.  See for more.

This is likely my last Google SketchUp tip for a while.  I feel that I have taught myself enough SketchUp to get by for now, and will be focusing on using these skills on some projects.

SketchUp Outliner Window

Another quick Google SketchUp trick that I am finding usefull…the OUTLINER window.

This tool, actually a window available under the WINDOWS menu, displays all of your “components” and “groups” in a single list or outline.   You can right click on one or more of the components in the list and click “HIDE”.  This makes it easy for you to HIDE all of the components or groups in your drawing except for the one that you are currently working on.  Once done working on the single component, go back into the OUTLINER and unhide all of the rest of the drawing.

SketchUp “SHIFT” Key Lock Movement

When moving an object in SketchUp using the MOVE tool, hold down the SHIFT key after selecting the object and moving it slightly in the direction that you want to move the object.  This “locks” the objects movement into only moving along the axis lines, and not in “free space.”   Very useful.

First SketchUp tip: left-to-right vs right-to-left SELECT window

I learned from Bob Lang’s DVD that if you use the SELECT tool by dragging a selection window from left to right across parts of your drawing, the program will only select the parts of the drawing that are contained within the window that you are dragging.  If you use the SELECT tool from right to left, the tool will AUTOMATICALLY select all of the parts and faces of the object even if you only enclose part of it in your window.

On complex drawings, I have found this to be very useful.  It helps you to select an entire object without accidentally overlapping and selecting its surrounding and interconnecting objects.  Cool.

This is the kind of SketchUp technique that I think I would never discover from trying to learn the program entirely on my own.   Trainings aids, DVDs and books are required to fully unlock the capabilities of the program.

Learning Google SketchUp for Woodworking

I had tried to learn to use Google SketchUp before to aid in design of woodworking projects.\

The program, on its face, is very easy to learn to use and really cool (and free).  Unfortunately, in my prior attempts to use it for “real” I have always been stopped by small details that I just could not get to work the way that I wanted, and I always reverted to pencil and paper.  The program is far more powerful than it looks, and there are a myriad of  tiny details and tricks that are hidden from the user.  This hidden power makes the program LOOK much simpler to use than it really is.   To do SketchUp right, it takes some practice.  But it’s worth it.

This year, prior to going to WIA last month, I became determined to learn SketchUp and fight may way through my hangups.  After all, I deal with technology all day and I ought to be able to learn to design using this program.

I’m happy to report, that after taking Bob Lang’s SketchUp seminar at WIA, and then practicing at home using Bob’s SketchUp DVDs, I’m now successfully using SketchUp to design furniture.  I love the program.  It is very useful.

For those of you wanting to learn to use SketchUp for furniture making, I highly recommend buying Bob Lang’s two DVDs. Bob makes clear the small “details” that turned SketchUp from frustrating to highly useful.  Bob generated many “ah-ha” moments that solved my prior problems.  Additionally, I bought the book  Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual by Chris Grover.  Between Bob’s DVDs and the Grover book, I have been making rapid progress at learning SketchUp at last.

I will post the small SketchUp tips that have made a difference for me as I come across them.

First tip, you need to learn to use the keyboard shortcuts.  I did not do this until now.  I am not sure that you can use SketchUp effectively without the keyboard shortcuts, particularly for the camera and view tools.