SketchUp of a mock-up
When inventing a new design, Tim Killen doesn't see a need for a cardboard mock-up. He jumps right into SketchUp, guided by rough handmade pencil sketches.
This one is different and I’m sure controversial. I’m concluding that making cardboard mock-ups of planned furniture is a waste of time. There I said it…..
But here’s the background…..
Late last year I posted a blog here in Design. Click. Build. where I showed capturing an Oak Sideboard design. Here is a picture from “Home Furniture” magazine showing my trace-over of the design in SketchUp.
That trace-over captured the sizes, shapes and positions of all important components representing the actual design. This provided an excellent basis for completing a detailed design with all dimensions and joinery as shown below.
The detailed final design with all joinery.
This was an efficient and effective process for providing my student a complete set of drawings including full-size templates. His construction was excellent with a final product shown below.
Later, this student proposed building a one-off original design and provided pictures of a cardboard mock-up shown below. He asked if I could do the same SketchUp process of capturing the design from this cardboard mock-up, and producing the detailed design documents.
I agreed to his proposal and below you can see my trace-over to capture the sizing, position, shape, etc. of the important parts in SketchUp – the same process as used for the Oak Sideboard.
And from that trace-over, I quickly and confidently came up with a model shown here:
Unfortunately, this model, unlike the Oak Sideboard example, exposed all the omissions and deficiencies of the mock-up. The shape of the Legs would not work since there was no way to align hinges for the door. The centered partition had to be shifted to provide more space in the left side. The drawer section was going to be very difficult to build with all the shapes. The Top was all wrong, based on my interpretation of the mock-up. None of the components captured from the mock-up could be used. Quite a contrast to the experience for the Oak Sideboard.
Eventually after many back-and-forth discussions and hand sketches, these problems were all worked-out with a final model as shown below. With this model, the dimensioned drawings and full-size templates were extracted from SketchUp.
And here is the progress in the student’s shop.
I’m sure the final product will be a beautiful grand success. But I feel the design process was more difficult than necessary. I just don’t see the value of the cardboard mock-up, and using this flawed model, created extra work in SketchUp.
I must admit, I’m mostly reproducing existing museum pieces and have photos and sometimes diagrams in books, as a basis for starting in SketchUp. Obviously, a cardboard mock-up is useless in these cases.
But even when inventing a new design, I don’t see a need for a cardboard mock-up. I can jump right into SketchUp, albeit sometimes guided by a rough hand made pencil sketches specifying overall dimensions. If I need to see something full size, I can print it in SketchUp. This gives me a quicker detailed design ready for efficient shop work.
I do know that my student continues to strongly believe in the cardboard model. He is quick in making them and benefits from seeing a full-size representation of the piece. I could be wrong, but I think with additional skill in SketchUp, he may eventually skip that step.
Recognition and thanks to Morgan Strickland, my student, who challenges me with his projects, and is an excellent and enthusiastic cabinetmaker.