Lessons in Teaching SketchUp to Woodworkers
Over the past couple years in this blog, I’ve reported on my experiences teaching SketchUp to woodworking students. This entry follows in that tradition.
This week I finished another 3-session SketchUp for Woodworkers course at Mt. Diablo Adult Education in Pleasant Hill, CA. Each session was conducted in the evening for three hours, each one week apart. Here are lessons as discussed with the group of 15 students on the last evening:
1. I used a new drawing and model for the training – a 17th C footstool with six unique components including turned legs. This model was used throughout the training from the beginning steps to the final session. This model, though small and straightforward, allowed us to start with basic drawing skills and move up to more complex procedures such as creation of moldings, turnings, and developing a drawing package. The students appreciated the continuity of working with one model while progressing through the exercises.
2. In the first session we concentrated on the use of basic drawing tools, staying on axis, and mastering pan, zoom, and orbit. At the end of the first session, students were able to draw and push-pull rough component shapes for the table. This included drawing to length.
3. The second session moved on to joinery (mortise and tenon) which required use and placement of guidelines. We worked on assembly of components with the move tool, precisely connecting parts of the table. This also required copying and flipping. We touched on using the arc tool and Follow Me to create molded edges on rails and the table top. Also we covered the making of Scenes to help with organizing a drawing package for the shop. This included use of parallel projection and making of full-size templates.
Students let me know that we had reached overload in amount of information.
4. The next week was devoted primarily to review of the material already covered. I asked students to let me know questions, issues, and problems during the week and we listed these on the board. This resulted in a list of about twelve subjects to review from beginning steps to more complex operations. Here are some of the areas of review identified:
a. How to set up the toolbars and dialog boxes
b. How to draw a line to exact length
c. How to draw components in close proximity without items way off in space
d. How to precisely connect the parts of the table
e. Review on how to place guidelines
f. How to work the Flip along procedure
g. A review of Follow me to make the molded edge on the table top
h. How to import and set up a picture for tracing over
i. How to make the turned leg
j. How to make the molding shape with the arc tool
k. How to print a full-size template
l. Exact positioning of tenons
5. Final student feedback on the course included:
a. Need more time spent on basics, e.g. setup, moving around the model, drawing to length, and staying on axis.
b. Would like to have more sessions, perhaps double or more in length
c. Need hand-outs on step-by-step instructions on use of various tools and procedures
d. Need hard copy material for reference when having problems. Too difficult to remember all the steps involved.