Before jumping into the video there are some comments I hope will make learning SketchUp easier. SketchUp is a powerful tool, its learning curve is quick and it can be fun. It can also be frustrating for beginners. To help avoid this frustration, or at least to minimize it, I have developed a few rules that I encourage you to memorize. Or at least memorize the concepts embedded in them. If you commit these concepts to memory you will avoid that desire to give up, that many beginners reach. As you watch the video you should notice that I practice these rules myself.

Rules for 3D Modeling in SketchUp

1. Save your work frequently

Under the Window menu choose Preferences. Select the General panel and under “Saving” make sure both “Create backup” and “Auto-save” check boxes are checked. Set “Every” to 5 minutes. In addition, get into the habit of saving your file frequently using the File/Save (or File/Save As if it is the first save). You must save your file once before “Create backup” takes effect, so do it immediately upon beginning a model. 3D modeling is a lot of work and loosing multiple hours of work can make you blood curdling angry. Follow this basic rule to avoid hypertension.

2. Layer0 should always be active when modeling

During the modeling phase, described in Rule 6, make sure that Layer0 is always active. Access the Layers dialog box with menu Window/Layers and make sure the radio button to the left of Layer0 is selected. This should remain true through the entire modeling phase. This ensures that all primitives reside on Layer0. More importantly, that the primitives of a given group or component are not on different layers which would make using Layers to view and hide individual parts nearly impossible.

3. Draw one part at a time

NEVER allow a part in its primitive state touch another part in its primitive state. The word primitive, or primitives, means points, lines, faces, rectangles, circles, polygons and arcs including construction lines and points. In short, a primitive is any drawn object except a solid, group or component. Primitives are the most fundamental of drawing objects from which all other geometry is drawn.
A part is in its primitive state unless it is made into a group or component.
It  is very important to understand that when two primitives touch, even when they are on different layers, they STICK together.

4. As soon as a part takes 3D shape make it a component

Components save time and frustration. In addition, they dramatically reduce the file size of your model. Groups are similar to components but components have several advantages, most importantly reducing file size and efficiency in editing. Avoid groups if possible. A part doesn’t have to be completed before making it a component; in fact it should be made a component as soon as it takes on a 3D shape. Further modeling of the part, or edits to it, can be made later using the protected “Component Edit” or “Group Edit” tools.

5. As soon as a component is created move it to the layer where it will reside

The best way to move a component to a different layer is by using the Entity Info box. If the desired layer does not exist, use the Layers box to create it and then move the desired component onto the layer. Both the Layers and Entity Info box can be found on the Window menu, including other helpful boxes.

6. Draw a complete model before creating scenes, texturing or dimensioning

Draw a complete model first, including joinery. Be sure all parts are components. All components must have a unique and descriptive Definition Name. All components should have a unique instance (part) Name.
This I call the modeling phase. Only when the 3D model is complete should you move on to creating scenes, texturing or dimensioning.

Rules 3 and 4 are important because in SketchUp primitives are “sticky”. That is, if they touch one another they stick together, more accurately they share points, edges and faces. Therefore, if table legs and a table top are drawn in their correct position relative to each other, and are in their primitive state, they would be touching. Separating them onto different layers or making them individual components or groups becomes at best frustrating and at worst near impossible. In fact if you tried to move a leg the top would move; worse it would become totally distorted.

SketchUp’s sticky nature is one of its most difficult aspects to deal with, unless you follow these rules. Once mastered, drawing parts and converting them to components will become second nature. You will also discover that this sticky nature of SketchUp’s primitives was not perpetrated on the unsuspecting beginners by its developers to inflict hypertension and a nervous breakdown. Rather there is an overriding useful purpose that will be evident as you continue learning.

Preparing to View the Video

A completed SketchUp model of the Bedside Table can be downloaded from my website Select the Free Plans menu button, scroll down to Tables and locate Bedside Table from the list. It is available both in native SketchUp file format (.skp) and as a PDF file (.pdf). Before you view the video take time to familiarize yourself with its design and dimensions. For this third part we are especially interested in the Upper Drawer Rail, Lower Drawer Rail and Top. You may want to print out the Front View, Upper Drawer Rail and Lower Rail scene(s) for reference.

Downloading the Video to Your Computer

Sometimes the performance of your internet connection, the load on it at a particular time of day, and the length of these video tutorials can all conspire to provide you a frustrating and impossible viewing experience. If this happens it may be preferable to download the entire video unto your system and view it on your local video player. The video file is an 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 will 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.

To download this video click here or paste’s_sketchup/Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial – Part 3/Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial – Part 3.mp4

into your download manager.

Viewing in Your Browser

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 player’s controls. Exit full screen mode with the Esc key. This part is approximately 32 minutes long. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!


See you in Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial, The Video Version–Part 4.

Leave a Reply

8 Responses to “Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial, The Video Version–Part 3”

  1. Lorne Tweed says:

    I just completed tutorial 1-3 of the bedside table. One issue I had was that some of the geometry on the aprons and rails ended up on the leg layer and layer0. I’m not sure how this happened.

    I fixed this by selecting the component & then setting it on the correct layer. I also edited the component, selected all faces and lines with a click, left drag, and set them all to the correct layer. This two step process corrected the problem but it took a lot of trial and error to realize that I had to set both the component and its internal geometry on the correct layer.

    If you ever update the videos, I suggest you add a check for this error and a way to avoid and/or fix it.

    So far, I’ve found your videos very instructive. I’m chaffing at the bit to go model something that I want to make but want to learn some good practices before I pick up bad habits.


  2. Joe says:

    Hi Lorne,

    What layer did you put the faces and lines on? Layer0 I hope. All primitives (faces & lines) for all components should be on Layer0. The components themselves on the appropriate layer e.g. legs on Legs layer.

    I have already done what you have requested. See and . Let me know if that addresses the problems you have had.

    Thanks for the feedback and I hope you find the remaining videos useful.


  3. TOMMY JOE says:


  4. Alexandra says:

    Beginner’s video 3 seems to be missing –

  5. Joe Zeh says:

    Hi Alexandra,

    I am working on this problem now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It may take several hours to upload the video again and have it respond correctly. Thanks for your help and patience.


  6. Joe says:

    Hi Alexandra,

    Try it now and see if you are able to view and download it. Please let me know either way.


  7. Brian says:

    I’m enjoying your tutorials but I can’t access part 3, below is the 404 message that I’m receiving. I’ll try again in a day or two and see if the problem has been resolved.
    Thanks, Brian.

    The requested URL /downloads/beginner%27s_sketchup/Beginner%27s%20SketchUp%20Tutorial%20-%20Part%203/Beginner%27s%20SketchUp%20Tutorial%20-%20Part%203.mp4 was not found on this server.

  8. Joe says:

    Hi Brian,

    I just tried it this morning and had no problems. Hopefully you won’t either. BlipTV, the streaming service I use, has been having problems since Hurricane Sandy. Maybe they have it straightened out now. If you continue to have problems contact me via email at