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A Double Bed I Crafted - The Design Adapted From Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001 Willow has been after me to design and build a trundle bed for the Cape House guest bedroom for some time. I am finally ready and I thought it would be a great opportunity to write a series of blog posts chronicling the design and build of this bed. So this is Part 1 in the design phase series. The crafting phase will also bring a number of posts in a series.

I will start with the bed’s requirements. The guest bedroom is a rather small room with a window opposite the entry door. Because of the small room size the bed design is limited to a twin (or single size).

A Simple Elegant Design - The Trudle Would Be Faced With A Faux Double Drawer We get a lot of guests on the Cape, especially grand children, and we need all the bed capacity we can get. So this bed needs to be a trundle. Also the window it will go against is rather low so there cannot be a mattress/spring combination, but rather two platform bed mattresses.

Twin or single bed mattresses come in two sizes: twin size 39” wide x 75” long or X-Long 39” wide x 80” long (same as the length of a queen or king mattress). The size of the room again dictates the normal size of 39” x 75”.

The Headboard Features A Grandfather-Clock-Like Swan-Neck Pediment With One Finial While the length and width of a mattress is standardized, thicknesses are not. However, a twelve inch assumption is plenty of thickness to acquire a comfortable platform mattress. So now I know I need to accommodate two mattresses, each 39” wide by 75” long by 12” thick. These box dimensions representing the mattress size will drive many of the trundle bed’s design decisions.

With the design constraints in hand it is time to consider bed styles. If you are the really creative type you might do this by sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper with pencil in hand and begin sketching. I am not that creative; I need a starting point for my designs. So I run to my desktop and begin a search for “trundle or twin bed” pictures to look at. There are thousands, but the trick is to narrow interesting and general styles to a few.

A Sleigh Bed Headboard & Platform Bed Footboard There are four that interest me that are represented by pictures on this page. In the first picture left above is a double bed I crafted with a design adapted from an article in Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001, page 52. I like this design and one benefit to sticking with it is that the bed shown is already in the Cape House. Another benefit is that drawing it would be a matter of simple modifications to my current drawings. On the other hand, I like to choose projects and designs that are different one from another. But there are pieces of this design that might get incorporated in the final design.

The second picture above right is another simple and elegant design. I like the simple single curve of the headboard top. The double drawers would serve as a nice faux front for the trundle. The footboard could remain the same or raised to the level of the mattress and allow for slats that match the headboard. Alternatively a matching curve could be incorporated into the footboard. There are a lot of possibilities with this design.

A Simple Sleigh Bed Design Incorporated Into Both Head & Footboard The third picture above left incorporates a grandfather-clock-like swan-neck “pediment” with one finial forming the top of the headboard. The swan-neck is rather tall and the curves are a little severe, but the narrowness of the bed may dictate that. I would attempt to alter it. The overall design, especially the footboard, could have simpler lines; I don’t like the footboard design shown at all. An American Colonial flavor might be just right for this style. There is also the possibility of adding a swan-neck to the footboard.

The last two pictures above right and left are variants of a sleigh bed. The last picture is more traditional in that both the head and footboard are sleigh bed shapes. The second to last picture uses a platform bed footboard. The last picture is actually a trundle bed design. There are lots of possibilities for modifying both designs into one. The footboard in the last picture exposes the “trundle” which I find distracting. Also the footboard height is well above the mattress, which is traditional for a sleigh bed, but not a feature that will be accepted by Willow. She believes one should be able to lie in bed and look at nature with nothing blocking one’s view.

The bottom line is that my opinion and taste means little. I am simply attempting to give the customer (Willow) some ideas. She will make the final decision of style selection and modifications. In the end it may be that she has a completely different idea. But this is the beginning of the design phase. Stay tuned for follow-on posts on this topic.

Note: All but the first picture was copied from a JCPenny.com website page and are used simply as an architectural example. Any design that I might extract in part from them will not be used for commercial purposes. If you like one of these beds and wish to purchase it I recommend visiting JCPenny.com.


I wrote about the combination of Cut List 4.0 and CutList Plus many months ago. I was reminded by Steve Racz, the author of Cut List 4.0, that Cut List 4.0 is now Cut List 4.0.7. He suggested that I update my blog to reflect the changes. Normally one wouldn’t expect a minor revision to change functionality but merely fix bugs. However Steve’s changes in 4.0.7 make the interface between Cut List 4.0.7 and CutList Plus nearly seamless. Of my favorite SketchUp Ruby scripts this one ranks among the top. So I have re-written my original post to reflect those changes and major simplifications. Here is the updated version.

My projects always start out the same – realizing my idea by sketching and designing it in 3D, then producing shop drawings complete with a cut list. Having done that I am ready to go into the shop and prepare my stock. My current tools of choice for this task are Google SketchUp for 3D drawing and CutList Plus for producing a cut list and parts list. These two tools do not naturally speak to one another; there is no export or import utility supported by either application that allows them to pass design information between them. However, SketchUp has a Ruby API and development console that allows third parties to produce scripts that can be used by SketchUp to extend its functionality. Most of these Ruby scripts are written by software developers, or wannabe software developers, and they are provided to you for free. To use a script you simply download a simple text file with an .rb extension. The file must then be placed in the appropriate SketchUp Plugins folder. Upon opening SketchUp, it loads all Ruby scripts located in that folder, and voilà! You have extended functionality.

I have a list of favorite Ruby scripts that I have added to my SketchUp Plugins folder which I will share with you toward the end of this article. But one in particular bridges SketchUp and CutList Plus; Cut List 4.0.7 is the focus of this post. If you use SketchUp and CutList Plus this post is for you. If you don’t use one or both applications you should look into them. SketchUp 7 is a free 3D drawing application from Google. That’s right, free! You can download it by going to http://sketchup.google.com/. CutList Plus must be purchased, but it is not expensive, and it is well worth the price. There are several editions (Silver, Gold & Platinum) that range from $89.00 to $499.00, and serve the casual user to the professional. The Silver version is limited to 50 parts, but that is enough to handle most furniture pieces. My Six Pane Oak Hutch has 35 pieces. If you need more parts you can break a design down into sub-assemblies. Go to http://cutlistplus.com/ to read about the differences between these editions.

The Ruby script Cut List 4.0.7 is free and can be downloaded by going to http://steveracz.com/joomla/content/view/45/1/. This is a zip file and must be extracted to the appropriate SketchUp Plugins folder. In the case of Windows XP that folder is C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 7\Plugins. For 64-bit versions of Windows it may be something like C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google SketchUp 7\Plugins. You may have an older version and it could be slightly different, so examine the Program Files (or Program Files (x86)) folder to determine the exact address. For MAC or other operating systems check your SketchUp documentation.

If you do not wish to purchase CutList Plus, Cut List 4.0.7 will connect SketchUp with Microsoft Excel to produce a cut list using a comma separated value file (.csv). But CutList Plus has many more features that are useful to the woodworker besides a cut list, for example, a layout showing you how to cut sheet material to get the most efficient and least expensive solution.

Once the zip file has been extracted to the Plugins folder you can open SketchUp and you will notice a new Menu item called Plugins. Under Plugins you will see a submenu called Cut List. This is what you would click to produce a cut list file. However, I am going to throw you a curve ball. Then I am going to explain how you can work around it or use it.

Each time you install a Ruby script in SketchUp a menu item(s) is added. It is generally added to a menu called Plugins. If Plugins doesn’t yet exist, the first Ruby script you add will create it and all future Ruby scripts will use it. The idea here is that Ruby scripts are added features that are not part of the SketchUp application and therefore one shouldn’t mix their Ruby menu items with native SketchUp menu items. I don’t like this strategy because after you have added a number of scripts and used SketchUp for a while you forget which commands (or submenu items) are native, and therefore should look in the related menu, and which are extended functionality and therefore are found under Plugins. So, for every script I add I modify the source file slightly to put the command (submenu item) under the appropriate menu. In the case of Cut List 4.0.7 I chose to put the submenu item under the File menu instead of the Plugins menu. My rationale is that producing a cut list file is a File operation, not and Edit or View or Tools operation. This helps me to remember where to find the command to produce a cut list file. Further, I changed the command name from Cut List to Generate Cut List. This is slightly more descriptive and it also makes the command stand out a little more so it is easier to locate.

I will now tell you how to make this modification if you choose to do so. It does not require programming knowledge, however, if you look closely at the changes you will likely figure out what you would need to do to modify other scripts to change menu location.

If you choose not to make this edit then simply remember when I say go to File/Generate Cut List (or something similar) you should read it as go to Plugins/Cut List.

To make the modification locate a file called CutListAndMaterials.rb in your Plugins folder (C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 7\Plugins for Windows XP). Open this file using Notepad. WordPad may be used if you are careful to save the file without adding formatting symbols. Do not use Word. Word adds formatting symbols. Also be sure to save the file after modification with the .rb extension, not a .txt or other extension. While the file is open scroll to the bottom and locate the following text.

# Add things to the Plugins menu
# Add CutList main entry
# "Cut List" offers an html gui to select options and produce html and/or file output
if( not file_loaded?("CutListAndMaterials.rb") )
     add_separator_to_menu("Plugins")
    
     #plugins_menu = UI.menu("Plugins").add_submenu("Cut List")
     plugins_menu = UI.menu("Plugins")

     plugins_menu.add_item("Cut List") { interactive_generator }
     # no longer supported
     #plugins_menu.add_item("SU5") { fixed_configuration_generator }
end

file_loaded("CutListAndMaterials.rb")

Replace this block of text with the following text:

# Add command to the File menu
# Add CutList main entry
# "Cut List" offers an html gui to select options and produce html and/or file output
if( not file_loaded?("CutListAndMaterials.rb") )
     UI.menu("File").add_item("Generate Cut List") { interactive_generator }
end

file_loaded("CutListAndMaterials.rb")

Save the file and open SketchUp. Under the File menu you will see Generate Cut List. That’s it, simple as that.

Select The Entire Model But Do Not Select More Than One InstantiationNow for an example of how Cut List 4.0 bridges SketchUp and CutList Plus. We will use a Wall Hanging Hand Tool Cabinet design as an example. If you wish to follow along click on the link in the previous sentence to download the SketchUp model. My SketchUp drawing, or model, is complete including all dimensions. It is not necessary to have all parts dimensioned, but it is necessary that all parts be fully defined components or component instances (instances are components used more than once, for example multiple drawer fronts). I will not describe how to create SketchUp drawings and models in this post; I have a separate multipart tutorial on my blog site for just that purpose. To create a cut list bring up a complete model without dimensions and select the entire model. Be careful not to select multiple instances of a model using “Select All” or you will get a cut list with inflated parts requirements. See the picture at left above showing how I did this for my tool cabinet.

Note: Very important, before proceeding to the next step open the Window/Model Info box. Select Units in the left column and Decimal from the Format drop down box. If you use Fractions CutList Plus will not interpret them correctly; you may end up with dimensions that appear as calendar dates in Excel or dropped parts in CutList Plus. You can switch back to Fractions after the Cut List 4.0.7 output file is generated.

Cut List 4.0.7 Menu Box - Note The Selected ItemsI select the File/Generate Cut List command (or Plugins/Cut List for you wimps), and left click. A menu selection page appears. With the CutList tab selected make the selections shown in the picture at right. My tool cabinet is made of all rough cut hardwood so I have not selected Layout. If some of my parts were sheet material such as plywood I could select Layout and get a visual cut list layout. However, even if I did have sheet goods I would ignore the Layout option because CutList Plus has more powerful features to deal with sheet goods.

Notice in the picture at right above the keywords part, hardware, sheet, veneer, plywood, hardboard and mdf. These are keywords that indicate a component is either a sheet material or a part and not a component (you  can use your own keywords). Do not use any of these keywords, or words containing them, when naming your components. If you do, those components will not be included in the Component cut list. I called one component a Drawer Partition and it was eliminated by Cut List 4.0.7 because “part” is contained in the word “partition”. I had to rename it divider.

This Message Lets You Know Where The Generated File Has Been Saved - Write It Down I simply check Web Page, CutList Plus and Components in the menu selection page. You may wish to left click the Save Settings button to save these selections as I did. Clicking Run produced the message shown at left. This message lets me know where Cut List 4.0.7 saved my .csv file containing the data CutList Plus will need to generate the cut list (write this location down). I click OK and I can now see the Web Page view of a cut list. I just use this view as a check to be sure all components were picked up correctly. Though I don’t examine it in detail I look for any glaring or outstanding problems. The detail checks I leave until I have a CutList Plus cut list.

Remembering where the .csv file was stored (hint: it is likely in the same folder as the SketchUp model that produced it) I open it with Excel or import it into CutList Plus.

CutList Plus Input Wizard Importing to CutList Plus is done by either right clicking on the file name and choosing Open With/CutList Plus 2009, or opening CutList Plus and choosing File/Import and selecting the saved .csv file. A menu page will appear as shown at right. I select Comma as the Delimiter and check “First row has headers”. Next, in the import column in each row I use the drop down box to match up the columns. Note for Sub-Assembly, Material Type, Material Name, Can Rotate, Banding, <Info> and Notes I choose <Skip this item>. All I want is the Part#, part Description, number of Copies, and the three dimensions. The rest of the information I can deal with more easily in CutList Plus. Since most of my cut lists will be similar I left click “Save Filter Changes” to save these selections. Then I click Finish.

The Input Results Message Indicates 21 Components Were Correctly Imported An Import Results message pops up indicating that 21 components were imported. The 21 components agree with the number of components in my In Model components library of my SketchUp model. This is not the number of total parts, since a number of components are used numerous times. The total number of parts is the some of the numbers in the “Copies” column below right.

An Untitled CutList Plus File With Complete Cut List I click OK and my raw CutList Plus cut list appears as shown at right. At this point I have an untitled file; there is no information on Sub-Assembly, Sheet Goods, Material Type and Not Specified for the Material Name. These are easily edited and corrected in CutList Plus. In fact I can edit the Material Name and Material Type as one group and I can save the file with whatever name I please – though I always give it the same name as the SketchUp model itself. If I like letters for parts lists I can easily do that in CutList Plus too. The Final Cut List With Sub-Assembly, Material Type & Material Name Added Including Lettered Part # The final cut list is shown at left. I am not going to discuss how to use CutList Plus in this post. I will reserve that for the future since it deserves its own post. Suffice it to say that CutList Plus is rich and powerful. In addition to a cut list it can produce a Bill of Materials, Project Proposals, Cost Sheets including labor and other parts such as drawer pulls, sheet cutting Layouts, manage inventory and much, much more. You can download a 30 day trial version and give it a whirl. The learning curve is short, so have fun.

I promised a list of my favorite SketchUp Ruby scripts. That list can be found at http://www.srww.com/google-sketchup.htm along with a description of Google SketchUp.


When I looked at my website and blog this morning I discovered that there were political ads for the Massachusetts Senate race showing in the Google Ad boxes. I apologize if they offended anyone. Google selects the adds to be shown based, I thought, on the contents of my site. Google provides a filtering selection to avoid classes of unwanted ads. Apparently I neglected to filter political ads. Well now I have, and hopefully they will never appear again. While I have my own political views, my website and blog are no place for those views, nor do I wish to subject my readers to them. I am surprised and disappointed that Google chose to do that for me. I guess business is business, ethics aside.


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