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I teach SketchUp in a number of the local colleges and woodworking schools. If you live in the area, plan to vacation in the area or would like to stay in the area for a class, check out my schedule below. Anyone who wishes to visit the area for a class, or any reason, contact me and I can help you make arrangements at very reasonable rates.

Beginner’s SketchUp Courses

Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, MA – Wednesday Evenings, 6 – 8pm, Intermodal Center Room 1 beginning January 25,2012. See Career Enhancement – Design section on page 34. Contact Linda Pierce at (413) 236-2122.

Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Manchester, CT – Saturday & Sunday workshop, February 18th & 19th, 2012. Contact Bob Van Dyke at (860) 647-0303. See A Beginners Guide to Using SketchUp in Woodworking below.

Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, MA – Saturday May 12th & Saturday May 19th, 2012 from  9am to 5pm. See Career Enhancement – Design section on page 34. Contact Linda Pierce at (413) 236-2122.

Advanced SketchUp Courses

Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Manchester, CT – Saturday & Sunday workshop, April  14th & 15th, 2012. Contact Bob Van Dyke at (860) 647-0303. See Google SketchUp for Furniture – Advanced Techniques below.

Other SketchUp Appearances

I will also be giving introductory SketchUp talks at the Northeast Woodworker’s Association’s Saratoga Showcase on March 31st and April 1st, 2012 at Saratoga Springs City Center, Saratoga, NY. This is the best woodworking show I have ever attended and a must for any woodworker within distance.

Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking

Bob Van Dyke, Director - Connecticut Valley School of WoodworkingConnecticut Valley School of Woodworking is a premier woodworking school dedicated to teaching excellence in craftsmanship. CVSW has a wide range of woodworking courses and many of them are taught by its director, Bob Van Dyke, pictured right. Courses range from woodworking fundamentals to ten week fine furniture projects, wood turning, finishing and focused woodworking skills. In addition to Bob, CVSW provides courses taught by world class woodworkers such as Chris Schwarz, Glenn Huey, Phil Lowe, Mario Rodriguez and many more. Courses range in length from one lecture to weekend, week long and ten weeks. Check out the 2012 course schedule. In the schedule, under Specialty & Weekend Classes you will find yours truly. I will be teaching a beginner’s SketchUp course. I have copied that section below. If you live in the Northeast of the USA, I promise this will be a course that will add significantly to your woodworking skills. I look forward to meeting with you and talking shop and SketchUp.

A Beginners Guide to Using SketchUp in Woodworking

Computer aided designing has become more and more widespread and consequently- a lot simpler than when it started out. Google SketchUp 8 is a free and powerful tool that is being used by woodworkers everywhere. The Pro version is used by professional to model and design everything from bottles to skyscrapers. We will use the free version to model a Bedside Table complete with tapered legs, mortise and tenon joinery, beveled top, dovetailed drawer trimmed with bull nose cock beading and a Shaker style drawer pull. We will begin by learning how to install SketchUp, setup application preferences, choose model defaults and customize a template. Next we will tour the work area and become familiar with its tools. The heart of this course is modeling the Bedside Table and producing dimensioned shop drawings and photorealistic textured images. Finally we will learn how to extend the functionality of SketchUp through the use and customization of Ruby scripts. A laptop computer is helpful for this two day class. Basic computer knowledge is helpful. If you have any questions please contact the school’s director, Bob Van Dyke at (860) 647-0303. Sign up today. Tuition: $255.00 Materials are included

Section 021812B: Saturday & Sunday, February 18 & 19, 9:30 – 5:00pm

Google SketchUp for Furniture – Advanced Techniques
This is an intermediate course in Google SketchUp. The beginner’s course, A Beginners Guide to Using SketchUp in Woodworking, is recommended prior to taking this course. The free version of SketchUp will be used primarily, but the students will be exposed to the Pro version also. The focus of this course is modeling non-linear components; i.e. components with circular and complex shapes. The format of the two day workshop is six sessions, each session a one hour lecture followed by a one hour lab. Students should bring a laptop (notebook) to class with SketchUp 8 already installed.

Session 1 will begin with an arched rail for a clock door, the arch being a simple circular curve. Each session will progress to more complex shapes. Session 5 will focus on modeling cabriole legs using Bezier Spline curves. Each session will include an introduction to new tools – including a few Ruby script extensions to SketchUp – necessary to create these ever increasing complex shapes.

Finally, Session 6 will introduce the Pro version of SketchUp. The instructor will detail the differences in the free and Pro versions and even demonstrate a few of the new tools in SketchUp Pro 8. In addition, the student will be introduced to LayOut 3, a 2D presentation application that comes with the Pro License. Students will be shown how LayOut 3 can be used to create professional looking shop drawings and marketing materials. If you have any questions please contact the school’s director, Bob Van Dyke at (860) 647-0303.

Section 041412B: Saturday & Sunday, April 14 & 15, 9:30am – 5:00pm

face_to_face_largeWith a lot of help from Steve Baumgartner I added a Face To Face tool to the Construction Plus Toolbar. Face To Face tool’s icon is shown at left. Excuse my artistry; the tool’s icon is supposed to be two faces looking at each other representing the Face To Face tool. If there is a real artist out there who wishes to donate a better icon please feel free to do so.

So what does Face To Face do?

Imagine your job is to align all these objects along a face and an edge. Can you do it?Have you ever wanted to make the face of one object align with the face of another object, on the same or parallel plane, facing each other? Well now it takes just two clicks. Better yet, neither face has to align with a major plane (red/green, red/blue or blue/green). Both faces can be at any angle to any of the major planes.

In addition to aligning the faces on the same or parallel planes and facing each other, you can select a point on an edge of one object and move it to a point on the edge of a second object, just like the Move tool. You will see in the included video that Face To Face is often a better move tool that Move tool itself.

Lastly, if the points chosen in the previous paragraph are each end points of an edge that are brought together, then the edges themselves can be made collinear (brought together).

No problem for the Face To Face tool.This may all seem complex, but it isn’t. I will demonstrate the tool completely in the accompanying video. But first I need to explain a few things. The tool asks for Reference and Subject Faces, Reference and Subject Points and Reference and Subject Edges. Reference simply means the object that will not move, but serves as the face, point or edge that the Subject object will align to. To complicate things a little bit more, but in the name of flexibility, the Reference and Subject objects do not have to be the same objects for Face, Point and Edge alignment. The only restriction is that a Subject object must be a non-nested Group or Component Instance. The Reference object can be a primitive (Face or Edge), Group or Component Instance.

Lastly, there are six modes of operation: Face To Face; Point To Point; Edge To Edge; Face & Point To Face & Point; Point & Edge To Point & Edge; and Face, Point & Edge To Face, Point & Edge.

  • Face To Face aligns the selected Subject face to the selected Reference face such that they are on the same or parallel planes with the two faces facing each other. The exception is when one of the faces are reversed and the other is not i.e. facing inward to the object. In that case the two faces will be facing in the same direction.
  • Point To Point moves the Subject object to the Reference object, joining them at the selected points.
  • Edge To Edge aligns the selected Subject edge such that it is collinear with the selected Reference edge.
  • Face & Point To Face & Point performs the Face To Face operation first and then the Point To Point operation.
  • Point & Edge To Point & Edge performs the Point To Point operation first followed by the Edge To Edge operation.
  • Face, Point & Edge To Face, Point & Edge performs Face To Face operation first, Point To Point second and Edge To Edge third.


The cursor provides guidance by telling the user what the tool is looking for as explained below:


subject_face_cursorThe cursor will have an arrow pointing to the object you wish to select. The letter R or S will be prominent; R for Reference and S for Subject. There will be a face, line or point to indicate what the user should choose. The icon at left asks the user to choose a Reference Face. The icon at right asks the user to choose a Subject Face.


subject_point_cursorSimilarly, the cursor at left asks the user to choose a Reference Point, while the one at right asks the user to choose a Subject Point.


subject_edge_cursorAs you probably guessed, the cursor at left asks the user to choose a Reference Edge while the one at right asks the user to choose a Subject Edge.

Modes can be changed with the Tab key. The last mode selected becomes the default. When you reopen SketchUp the default mode will be the active mode it opens to.

The Esc key has two functions: first, if you need to use a camera tools such as Orbit, Pan or Zoom, you can return to the Face To Face tool where you left off by pressing the Esc key; second, if you wish to abort an operation and reset the tool simply press the Esc key.

The Undo/Redo tools can be used to Undo/Redo each step of the operation.

When might you use the Face To Face tool?

Often, especially when you are working with furniture or home design where faces are at angles to major planes, you find it easier to draw a component in place. Shortly thereafter you discover that the bounding box is misaligned to the part. This causes real problems for tools such as Cut List and Get Dimensions. With Face To Face you can easily align the component instance to a major plane and axis, explode it and remake the component. Now the bounding box will supply the correct dimensions to Cut List or Get Dimensions.

Imagine the problem in reverse. You draw the component aligned with a major plane and axis resulting in a bounding box that is correct, but now you need to move the component instance into place. You realize that the face of the component instance is not aligned to a major plane or axis. An example is moving a roof rafter into place. The end of the rafter must align with the surface of a ridge board; a perfect application for the Face To Face tool.

Does this occur in the design of furniture? Yes, a lot if your furniture has trim or sides not aligned to a major plane and axis. This is especially true with complex miter joints. Face To Face is not a tool you will use all the time, but when you need to align irregular faces, it is the perfect tool.

The video below will give you a complete demonstration of Face To Face tool. The Construction Plus toolbar and its tools can be obtained by downloading the zip file here and extracting it to your plugins folder. A SketchUp Face To Face Practice File can be downloaded here to help you follow along and practice using Face To Face.

Viewing The Face To Face Tutorial

You can view Introducing SketchUp Tool Face To Face by pressing the play icon below or by downloading it to your system.

The video file is mp4. It can be viewed with most video players including QuickTime and Media Player. If you have a default, or user specified, file association for .mp4 you may have to delete it or use a download manager to download this file. Otherwise the associated application may be invoked and file streaming will prevail over downloading. There are numerous free download managers on the internet. Be careful, and do some research to locate one that is not loaded with spyware or viruses.

If you are on a PC platform running Windows OS and have Internet Explorer or Firefox you don’t have to change file association or use a downloader. Simply right click on the link(s) below and choose Save Link As. When Explorer opens choose a destination folder and select Save.

To download Introducing SketchUp Tool Face To Face click on or paste

into your browser or download manager.

Full Screen Viewing

You may find it easier to view the video in full screen mode. Start the video before selecting this mode. To enter full screen mode click the little screen icon at the bottom of the video player. When in full screen view hold your cursor near the bottom of the screen to access the video

Steve Baumgartner ( discovered a bug in my Get Dimensions tool and sent me code changes to fix it. He also changed the Status text box to be consistent with the Outliner names. The latter may be marginally helpful if the group or component name is longer than the Status text box; SketchUp does not permit stretching this box to accommodate longer names.

Misaligend and Correctly Aligned SolidsThe bug Steve fixed is significant. You should download the Construction Plus Zip file and update your Plugins folder. However, there is still a potential problem in using this tool. The picture at left shows two solids; one not desirably aligned with its bounding box (misaligned) and the other correctly aligned. Hence, the dimensions the tool will display for the misaligned solid are not the dimensions you would expect. This can occur whenever you create a part and rotate it before you make it a solid, or when you draw it relative to current components and then make it a solid. An example of the latter might be drawing a rafter of a house in place, using the ridge board and wall plate to assist in creating it.

In the case of groups, since there is always one instantiation of a group, all you need do to correct this problem is align the group to a major plane (red/green, red/blue or blue/green) and axis, explode the group and re-make it. If you made copies of a misaligned group you will have to fix each one independently; but shame on you for using a group.Winking smile

In the case of components, misaligned instances are not a problem (thanks to Steve’s fix) provided the original creation of the component (the one in the library) was aligned properly. If the component in the library is misaligned you can fix it by using the context tool Change Axis. But be careful, this will transform all instances of that component.

As a general rule you should align all groups and components to a major plane and axis (preferably the red/green plane and red axis. If you need to create a solid in place, and it is misaligned as a result, fix the first instance or copy before proceeding to use other instances of a component or copies of a group. This will ensure that tools like Get Dimensions and Cut List will always provide the expected dimensions.

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