Announcing Fine Woodworking's Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers--The Basics

comments (65) March 23rd, 2012 in blogs, videos

DaveRichards David Richards, contributor
thumbs up 96 users recommend

Video Length: 2:44

First there was Tim Killen's ebook SketchUp Guide For Woodworkers and now there's Fine Woodworking's Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers -- The Basics the video. This DVD/video download, running over an hour, covers the basics of getting started in SketchUp without getting bogged down in too many details.

It'll help you get started with SketchUp and take you through sketching out an idea, fleshing it out to add details and then create some plans you can take to the shop to build the project. There are a number of resources on the disk including a SketchUp file of the cabinet used in the video, plans for the cabinet and a cheat sheet you can keep handy as you're getting familiar with the program.

If you're a newer user of SketchUp, this video is for you. If you would like a preview of the guide, check out the free introductory episode above.


Buy it on DVD or get it instantly with the video download!

SketchUp DVD       SketchUp Download
SketchUp Guide for Wodoworkers - The Basics (DVD)  

SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers - The Basics (Download)




posted in: blogs, videos

Comments (65)

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Timberlady, things are a bit different on a Mac. Look under View>Tool Palettes for the toolbars. Feel free to e-mail me if you would like some help with it. Click on my name at the bottom of one of my recent blog posts.

Posted: 5:47 am on July 6th

timberlady timberlady writes: Hi Dave, I just bought the advanced techniques of Sketchup Guide for woodworkers but before using it I thought I had better review the Basic version which I bought some years ago and just skimmed through as I had Tim Killen's instructions and had managed the basics. I barely got through the introduction and I'm confused. I have a Mac and when I click on the view menu the options I get are different and more limited than what is on your screen. I don't have camera, construction, drawing, styles, modification, principal, shadows, standard and views options. Are they someplace else?
Posted: 11:01 pm on July 5th

StephenVectric StephenVectric writes: Hi Dave

Sorry for the direct communication on here, but i could not find another method to contact you.

I work for a software company called Vectric. Not sure if you have heard of us? We develop software products specifically designed to aid creative woodworkers to design and CNC machine complex projects (VCarve Pro and Aspire).

We have a great number of users that also use Sketch-Up so we have developed an import tool to directly bring in and machine SketchUp assemblies. we are currently working with SketchUp to promote the new feature but would like the opportunity to explore whether you would be happy for us to use some of the examples shown in the 'Fine Woodworking's Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers--The Basics' to demonstrate the import tool in action?

I would be very grateful if you could email me on stevej 'at' so that we might discuss further.

Many thanks

Stephen Jones
Digital Marketing - Vectric

Posted: 4:12 pm on April 22nd

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Absolutely! Start with a fresh download of the free version--it's as up to date as the pro version. You can learn to use SketchUp with the free version and then, when you get to the point where something you need to do requires the pro version, make the switch. Most everything most woodworkers will need to do can be done in the free version.

Posted: 6:55 pm on April 7th

Conlisk Conlisk writes: I'd like to learn and start using sketchup. Will the free version help me get started or should I purchase the most current release? Thanks for the blogs.
Posted: 3:43 pm on April 5th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Phil,

I assume by "intersection" you are referring to the origin. This is the place where the red, green and blue axes intersect. I didn't actually click on it to set the guideline, I clicked on the axis lines, green for the first guideline and red for the second.

The guide entity created by the yellow Tape Measure tool is determined by the entity you start on. If you click on a point such as the origin, the endpoint of a line or an intersection, you'll get a guide point. If you click on an edge, an existing guideline or an axis line, you'll get a parallel guideline when you drag the cursor out.

As to the where the axis lines appear to be relative to the model in the previous chapter and this one, it's really immaterial. When I drew out the rough sketch of the cabinet I started drawing at the bottom of the sides and pulled the cabinet's bottom down below the axis lines. In this chapter, however, I started with the bottom face of the case bottom on the ground plane (The red/green plane. Where's the duct tape?). Technically the origin and the axes are in the exact same location in space. It's the location of the model that is different. No matter. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not you can place the guidelines.

I hope that helps. If not drop me an e-mail by clicking on my name at the bottom of the blog post, above.
Posted: 8:37 pm on October 7th

Pheelgood Pheelgood writes: I don't know if this is the problem or not but it appears that the Origin changes from the "Draw a Basic Sketch" video to the "Add Components and Joinery" videos. In the "Draw a Basic Sketch the origin is at the intersection of the left side wall and the base. On the "Add Components and Joinery" the origins changes to the bottom edge of the base.

Maybe that was intentional and I'm just not getting it.

Thanks again,

Posted: 6:26 pm on October 7th

Pheelgood Pheelgood writes: I am viewing the "Add Components and Joinery" chapter and am at 1:33 into the video, where you are selecting the intersection in order to place the rectangle. When I copy your moves I can only get one "On Line" on either of the guidelines but never the "Intersection" where the two guidelines meet. I have started over three times and consistently get the same results.

What would case the guidelines to not be recognized as an Intersection?


Posted: 5:49 pm on October 7th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Dennis, no need to apologize. I'm sorry I missed your post. I'm glad you have it sorted out.

Here are a few things to remember about the flip Along operation. Maybe they'll save you some time.

1. When you create a component, it's axes are aligned with the model axes. they'll remain aligned with the model axes unless you rotate the component or change the component axis orientation.
2. The "Flip Along" direction will generally be the same color as the direction between components. So in your case, a line drawn between the two drawer runners would be parallel to the red axis and thus the Flip Along direction would also be red.
3. If you are flipping a single component, the Flip Along direction is based on the component's axis orientation. If you rotate a component for some reason, you'll want to keep track of that so you can flip in the correct direction.
4. If you have more than one component selected or you are flipping raw geometry (edges and faces) the Flip Along directions are based on the model axes instead of the component axes.

Hope that stuff helps.

Posted: 8:52 pm on May 21st

Denniswoodworker Denniswoodworker writes: David
I tried flipping it along the RED axis and it worked! Sorry for the post!!
Posted: 7:22 pm on May 21st

Denniswoodworker Denniswoodworker writes: David
I have been trying to make the drawer funner for the chamfered leg table on page 51 of Tim's book. Step 21 describes outlining the shape of the runners making it a component, using the push-pull tool to make it 3/4" thick and then copying the runner and using the flip along tool to create the mate. I have made the runner a component and copied it successfully. I cannot make it flip-along no matter what I do. I have remade the runner several times and copied it over to the other side and attempted to flip it along the green axis without success. I am using SketchUp 8 (basic) on a Mac. What do I need to do to make this part flip-along. This has stymied me for two weeks.
Posted: 7:18 pm on May 21st

Denniswoodworker Denniswoodworker writes:
Posted: 7:11 pm on May 21st

Denniswoodworker Denniswoodworker writes:
Posted: 7:09 pm on May 21st

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: John, it just occurred to me that you might mean the cabinet starts out sitting below the red/green plane. Is that it? If so, the entire model can be moved up in the blue direction so bottom of the cabinet is sitting on that plane. Even with it below the red/green axes, the horizontal surfaces are still parallel to it.

Posted: 9:50 am on May 15th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: John, I'm not sure what you mean about my cabinet not being "flat in the vertical plane bound by the x and y axises." Throughout the entire video horizontal faces in my model are parallel to the red/green plane.

If your model is causing you trouble, perhaps you could send the SKP file to me via e-mail at drkr4109 at gmail dot com. I'll take a look and see what is happening.

Posted: 9:46 am on May 15th

jkfitz1 jkfitz1 writes: Hi Dave,

I'm trying to work my way through the video step-by-step and I've run into a problem. At the end of the second instructional video (not counting the introduction video) the cabinet that you build is not flat in the vertical plane bound by the x and y axises. At :40 into the third video, when you slide the cabinet back along the green axis, the cabinet IS in that plane. I cannot, for the life of me, get the cabinet to sit level at the intersection of the red, green and blue axises. Without it being so, the inferences you describe later in the video do not work.

Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
John Fitzgerald

Posted: 9:16 am on May 15th

DRNono DRNono writes: For a year I have wanted to start using SketchUp but couldn't run the free version on my 3 year old Mac. But now I have a Mac running Lion and have downloaded the latest version and am ready to start designing! Now I notice there are quite a few sketch up drawings for download and it would be great to be able to take measurements off of the drawings to start building from them. There are even drawings of classic furniture. I recently downloaded a drawing of a Ben Franklin Library Chair -- the one that folds out into a step stool. So if I knew just a little more about using Sketchup I could start building one!
Posted: 12:31 am on May 1st

jimabbruzzese jimabbruzzese writes: Good stuff Dave, thanks. SketchUp looks semi-intuitive until you want it to be wood working specific. Looking forward to the video.

Posted: 7:18 am on April 30th

Shozan Shozan writes: Sketchup seems like a great tool, but have not been successful making it work for anything beyond the simplest project. The Google videos are helpful, but don't address the issues I have faced in getting the tool to function like any woodworking tool- "Accurate and Fast".

Looking forward to seeing your furniture-focused approach-
Posted: 6:51 am on April 30th

AllTenFingers AllTenFingers writes: I love woodworking and I love to draw. I've tried going through the tutorials from Google, but they are too broad-based and I would much rather spend my time learning about drawing furniture. If I win this video, I will convert some of my chair designs into SketchUp and share with the publishers of Fine Woodworking in a future article.
Posted: 5:52 pm on April 29th

jeffgrut jeffgrut writes: Let the enlightenment begin.
Posted: 4:29 pm on April 28th

Mautz Mautz writes: Tried once to learn SketchUp but would love to have a DVD that walks me thru the basics for woodworking.
Posted: 3:27 pm on April 28th

thunderdrake thunderdrake writes: SketchUp can be confusing, like to see if this would help.
Posted: 11:03 am on April 28th

highly_figured highly_figured writes: I learned mechanical drawing in the early 1960's. This may be a new trick for an old dog.
Posted: 10:41 am on April 28th

MarK39 MarK39 writes: I tried Sketch up and I like it but this dvd will come in handy as I really get confused with the computer program!
Posted: 10:39 am on April 28th

goldengoose goldengoose writes: GoldenGoose: Sketch up Guide for wood workers looks like it will be a good assistance to sketchup for furnitue manual which I have purchased about 6 month ago to up grade my drafting of furniture which I have done by hand for so many years I hoping it will give me some insite to the little problems that I have with the furniture manual. Nice job.
Posted: 9:09 am on April 28th

newbienj newbienj writes: This looks like a great way to help me take by very rudimentry sketchup skills to the next level!
Posted: 8:49 am on April 28th

threeglasses threeglasses writes: Wow, I am such a begginner I had no idea this was even possible. What a great tool to have and learn toward the woodworking quest.
Posted: 8:12 am on April 28th

Lujin Lujin writes: Looks like this will be a "must have" for us beginners to SketchUp.
Posted: 6:27 am on April 28th

loidwood loidwood writes: I am a woodshop and drafting teacherI have been doodling around with SketchUp with the anticipation to use it in both the shop and possibly in the classroom. This video looks like and excellent resource to help myself and my students apply SketchUp on projects and to teach valuable design skills.
Posted: 6:21 am on April 28th

GEide GEide writes: Yes craigpeter, thanks for the shout out about our giveaway. People can go to the link below for a chance to win a copy of this DVD. All you need to do is post a comment by Monday, April 30, 2012, 12:01am ET:

Posted: 1:59 pm on April 23rd

craigpeter craigpeter writes: Looks very interesting. I'll try for a chance to win one before purchasing one!
Posted: 5:13 pm on April 22nd

hansh hansh writes: The best 12 dollars I have spent in along time! Thank you!!
Posted: 11:17 pm on April 17th

GEide GEide writes: Hi Gunga,

Thanks for the feedback on the DVD. I forwarded this to customer service so they can help troubleshoot your specific situation.

I just got a copy of the DVD and was able to play it fine myself. But I appreciate you and others giving feedback so we can to address any issues that people run into.

People can contact our customer service department directly: or Phone: 800-477-8727 9am-5pm ET Mon-Fri

RE: Video transcript and cheat sheet: They are both “Extras” that you need to access on a computer. Below are instructions—these instructions are also included in the main menu system of the DVD.

Insert the disk into the DVD drive and using your default file browser, open it to view its content. Navigate to and select “Extras” from the main menu.

Insert the disk into the DVD drive and double click on the DVD desktop icon to view its content. Navigate to and select “Extras” from the main menu.

Thanks, Gina,
Posted: 11:45 am on April 16th

NikonD80 NikonD80 writes: I downloaded a copy of this and I must say I'm pretty impressed. The thing that first attracted me to the Fine Woodworking site was the video workshops. I learn best by watching how it's done then supplementing that with further reading so my copy of the Sketchup Guide for Woodworkers now makes a lot more sense to me.

I've read about the sound problems that other users have had but I've got say it's not a problem I've experienced. The whole thing is lovely and clear.
Posted: 7:58 am on April 16th

Gunga Gunga writes: I just received my copy of SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers. I am hoping to use SketchUp in addition to the CAD program I've been using for several years. Although I have only watched the first few chapters, I'm a little disappointed. First, the screen shots are very blurry, making it difficult to clearly make out the tools being selected. Second, the audio level is so low, that without using a headset, I can bearly hear it. (note: my vision and hearing are just fine.) And lastly, Dave mentions a video transcript and cheat sheet. I was unable to find either of them. Any help with these issues would be greatly appreciated.
Posted: 6:52 am on April 16th

GEide GEide writes: RE: "Does the DVD comes with English Subtitles or Subtitles for Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing (SDH)?"

Good question there is a full transcript but unfortunately there are not subtitles baked into the video itself. For your reference, I emailed you a copy of the transcript for the intro video above. This way you can see if the transcript helps you follow along.

But thank you for your feedback. It's a good suggestion for future productions. Thanks, Gina,
Posted: 8:35 am on April 12th

deafhusker deafhusker writes: Does the DVD comes with English Subtitles or Subtitles for Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing (SDH)?
Posted: 9:54 pm on April 11th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Hi L.Gonzalez,

I guess I would suggest that you look at the getting started videos on the site as well as my video. If you haven't done so, also get Tim Killen's eBook offered here on the and if you want a printed book perhaps you could pick up a copy of either SketchUp for Dummies or The Missing Manual book on SketchUp.

I don't really think your age should be a hindrance to your ability to learn to use it. You might choose to take it in small chunks until you have it learned. A few years ago I built a boat which seemed to be a daunting task. But I didn't really think so much about building a boat. I built a keel. Then I built a hull attached to the keel. Then I added a deck and the next part and the one after that. Pretty soon, I had a boat. Try that approach with SketchUp.

Posted: 7:33 pm on April 7th

lgonzaser lgonzaser writes: Amigo Dave,
I am a 72 yrs.old man with a very limited computer experience.
In fact I use my PC to read e-mails and newspapers from the US and the world. I die to be able to learn the google sketchup but it is too much for me. What will you recommend a man of my age to do?

San Juan,Puerto Rico
Posted: 6:01 pm on April 7th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Samm90, this video is not intended as a replacement for the tutorial videos offered by Google. In fact I would suggest that you watch those, too, if you haven't. This video goes beyond those with the focus from a woodworker's perspective. Take a look at the preview to get a a good idea of what is covered.
Posted: 5:22 am on April 7th

Samm90 Samm90 writes: Hello Mr Richards,
Before purchasing the DVD, I'd like to know the difference the DVD and Google tutorial website. What additional materials covered in the DVD that are lacking at the Google tutorial website.

Posted: 1:10 am on April 7th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Thanks to all for the nice comments. I'm happy you found it useful.

To "rebroach", The Tool Palettes are a different critter in the Mac version. I wanted to show you some creen shots so I did a blog post just now about this. I hope it helps.

Posted: 10:01 am on April 5th

rebroach rebroach writes: I am running SketchUp 8 on a Mac and am at the first stage of setting up toolbars. Under the View menu, there is the Tool Palettes option, but with very few choices under it. There is no option for Camera, Construction, Drawing, Modification, Principle, or Views. Any suggestions?
Posted: 5:49 pm on April 3rd

Bertrand1 Bertrand1 writes: Hi Dave, I have watched all the video and it is full of informations that are new to me, tank a lot

I am on a PC with Vista
Posted: 7:46 pm on April 2nd

mnik mnik writes: I've been learning at and it's free. Just sayin.'
Posted: 2:54 pm on April 2nd

GEide GEide writes: Hi angapmac, Thanks for the feedback. Good input for the future. Glad you found the content valuable and that the transcript helped you jump around. –Gina,
Posted: 8:57 am on March 30th

GregV GregV writes: Just as a side note: check out the web site and you will find a VAST store of sketchup tutorials. There must be 5 hours or more. These are very well done, and free. Not to take away from someone selling and making a profit, but free is good... a welcome relief in this economy.
Posted: 1:02 pm on March 29th

angapmac angapmac writes: The Video Transcript that accomopanies this SketchUp Guide is just great as it allows to practise with the same terminology exactly what you learn in the video. You progress faster and you can easily go back to points you wish or need to revisit.
Posted: 12:52 pm on March 29th

angapmac angapmac writes: After downloading this Sketchup Guide for Woodworkers on my Mac, accessing the videos and pdf is not obvious. It is rather convoluted and not well explained in the Readme. Closing a session and coming back to it is similarly cumbersome. It is probably more suited to PCs. The content is however quite good, once you can get to it.
Posted: 11:49 am on March 29th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Hi Jeff,

That set of plans was created in LayOut and the leader text and dimensions were added there. LayOut offers a great deal more flexibility in controlling the appearance of leader text and dimensions including the arrows and lines.
Posted: 6:55 am on March 28th

JeffB JeffB writes: One question - in the shop plans found in the "Extras" section, how do you create text boxes with the curved arrows?
Posted: 5:40 am on March 28th

GEide GEide writes: Hi Robbie103,

Sorry to hear about your audio trouble. Yes, the video does have audio with it. I asked our customer service department to contact you to troubleshoot what the issue might be.

Or, as always, don't hesitate to contact them directly: or Phone: 800-477-8727 9am-5pm ET Mon-Fri

Good luck and thanks for your interest. -Gina,
Posted: 8:36 am on March 27th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Robbie, there should be sound. Is it possible you have a setting that could be changed in your video player?
Posted: 6:06 pm on March 26th

Robbie103 Robbie103 writes: Looks like a usefull video but there is no sound on the downloaded version. Any Ideas
Posted: 5:13 pm on March 26th

kkightly kkightly writes: I guess there is no way to edit or delete a post after posting.
I spelled mic as mike. :) And I am unable to fix it.
Posted: 5:03 pm on March 24th

kkightly kkightly writes: My only concern after watching the preview is that the narrators voice tends to go up and down as if he is moving to and fro of the mike. It is a bit annoying to me. I don't know if I could watch a long video with the volume like that. When the voice is low I can't hear it, when its high it would be too loud if I turned it up. Just my observations. I may still get the video, because it is a very cool way to use Sketchup and I can see it would be useful.
Posted: 5:01 pm on March 24th

Nollie Nollie writes: Congrats Dave.
This will be a very helpful aid to many a woodworker !

Posted: 12:14 pm on March 24th

wef111 wef111 writes: My copy did not well on my mac until I realized the default program that opened the file was Preview. When I opened the file w/ Adobe Reader it worked fine.
Posted: 8:14 pm on March 19th

GEide GEide writes: Hi Hansh, we tested the product on a mac and it worked fine. Start by downloading the latest versions of Acrobat and Quicktime:

- Adobe Acrobat Reader -
- Apple Quiktime Player –

If you're still having trouble, contact our customer service department: or Phone: 800-477-8727 9am-5pm ET Mon-Fri

Thanks for the feedback, Gina

Posted: 12:39 pm on March 15th

hansh hansh writes: This may be very useful, but it is not running well at all on a Mac. Wish there would be something out there that helps those that use a Mac. P.s. I downloaded and did not get the DVD!
Posted: 12:00 pm on March 15th

Howyudoin Howyudoin writes: Hey Dave. I knew I'd find you doing SU on FWW! I'm anxious to get my program to see if I can get it working for me.

Posted: 10:14 pm on March 14th

robtrout5 robtrout5 writes: Well done Dave my copy is busy downloading. Hope you get the support you deserve. This will be my go to reference.
Posted: 4:30 pm on March 14th

timberdoodle timberdoodle writes: great DVD dave!!! and the preview is just enough to set the hook:)
Posted: 4:16 pm on March 14th

GEide GEide writes: Congrats Dave. Folks can watch an intro to this video if they click to the store pages. I'll post a preview in the blogs soon too.

If anyone runs into questions/concerns, don't hesitate to post a comment here. -Gina,
Posted: 1:08 pm on March 14th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

About Design. Click. Build.

Learn the art and science of designing furniture in SketchUp with Fine Woodworking's official blog. Moderated by a devoted community of woodworkers, we feature step-by-step SketchUp tutorials on designing components, downloads of pre-built 3D models of furniture parts, and news and information about the evolving world of digital furniture design.

Buy the Video
Don't miss Dave Richard's brand-new DVD/video download, The Basics.

Buy the Book
Get Tim Killen's popular eBook, the Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers.

Basic SketchUp Tutorials 
Learn the basics of building furniture in SketchUp with these classic posts from the Design. Click. Build. blog.

Creating a Project Plan in SketchUp
How I Draw in SketchUp
Axes in SketchUp
The SketchUp Move Tool
The SketchUp Rotate Tool
The SketchUp Scale Tool

Materials, Colors, and Textures
Applying Wood Grain Skins in SketchUp

Easy Dovetail Joints in SketchUp

Digital Project Plans

Download and modify SketchUp files for select projects from Fine Woodworking. View all.

Top Sellers:
Matt's Monster Workbench
New England Pine Cupboard
Garden Bench

Meet the Authors



I am a Biomedical Equipment Technician. I maintain anesthesia and respiratory equipment for the largest medical facility in southeast Minnesota. I...
view profile

Tim Killen

I am retired from Bechtel Corporation after 36 years in Engineering and IT management. I grew up among woodworking machinery in...
view profile


view profile