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I have teamed up with Popular Woodworking University (PWU) to provide a comprehensive course on modeling furniture in SketchUp. The course is called SketchUp Comprehensive and you can register by clicking on the PWU logo above. If you have not heard of SketchUp you might want to read this PDF file titled So What Is SketchUp.

In this course, I will teach you how to download, install, setup and use SketchUp. You’ll learn to customize the SketchUp drawing toolbar, edit preferences and tailor the SketchUp environment to your liking. You will learn how to set up shortcut keys that let you switch tools quickly, and I’ll introduce you to some handy plugins that I have developed. You’ll get 12 video lessons, sample models, exercises and projects that will build your knowledge. All videos can be downloaded to your system so you will always have them to reference.

This course requires only that you know how to use a computer. There is no prerequisite for SketchUp itself. The course will take you from beginner to modeling complex furniture component shapes. Come join us.

Here is the course outline:


SketchUp Comprehensive


From Download to Project Models


Part 1 – Introduction to SketchUp


Part 1 is a one segment part. It comprises an introductory document that answers the question “So What Is SketchUp?” and a one hour video that will cover downloading, setting up, personalizing the work area, familiarization with important tools and dialog boxes and modify or adding short cut keys. It will also introduce the student to Ruby scripts by installing one authored by me and which is necessary for this course.

Segment 1 – Installing & Setting Up SketchUp


bedside_table1. So What Is SketchUp.pdf – Read this document before viewing Installing and Setting Up SketchUp.mp4.

2. Installing and Setting Up SketchUp.mp4 – To be viewed after reading So What Is SketchUp.pdf.

3. Segment 1 – Student Exercise.pdf – Questions to be answered and exercises to be completed at the end of viewing Installing and Setting Up SketchUp.mp4.

Part 2 – The Bedside Table


In Part 2 that student will begin with a blank sheet and draw an entire woodworking project titled The Bedside Table. At the completion or Part 2 the student will have drawn a complete set of shop drawings and a photorealistic image of the crafted piece. By focusing on one project, the student will learn the sequence and all the steps necessary to produce any project from scratch.

dough_boxSegment 2 – Drawing Tapered Legs


In Segment 2 the student will learn to draw tapered legs. Many of the basic and commonly used SketchUp tools will be introduced in this segment. Segment 2 is a foundation segment. I will introduce my six rules for modeling in SketchUp.

Segment 3 – Adding Aprons, Joinery, Rails and Top


In Segment 3 the instructor introduces a very basic tenet of modeling with SketchUp: Letting the model define subsequent parts and joinery. Drawing the aprons tenons and mortises will demonstrate and bring home this very important concept. The student is introduced to circular curves. In addition, he/she learns to think ahead to easy ways of modeling that save time and effort, particularly when doing so while using the tenant introduced in Segment 3.

Segment 4 – Drawing the Drawer Sliders and Drawer Box


shaker_stoolIn Segment 4 the student learns to use the Protractor, Move/Copy Multiple, Circle and Intersect Faces tools to draw dovetailed drawer sides, front, back and tapered bottom. These are the primary elements of the traditional drawer. We will complete the drawer in Segment 5.

Segment 5 – Adding Cock Beading and Turned Drawer Pull


Segment 5 is follow-on to Segment 4. In it we complete the traditional drawer by adding cock bead trim and a turned drawer pull.


Segment 6 – Dimensioning and Texturing


The ultimate goal of Part 2 is to create shop drawings sufficient to not only build the Bedside Table, but use as a “marketing” tool to sell prospective clients. In Segment 7 we add dimensioning and scenes. Digital images of wood grain will be used to textures each part allowing for a photorealistic imaging.


Part 3 –non-Rectilinear Pieces and Complex Curves


arched_hoodPart 2 focused on one furniture piece and showed the student how it is modeled from blank sheet to finished shop drawings and photorealistic images. In Part 3 we will look at individual furniture pieces that require “difficult” or “complex” modeling skills. The student will learn that these are neither difficult nor complex once the techniques are explained.

Segment 7 – Splayed Pieces: The Dough Box


Orthogonal or rectilinear parts are easy to model, but what about splayed legs? How do you determine the compound angles? How do you draw the joinery for chair legs? These questions will be answered in Segment 7 using the example of a Dough Box.

Segment 8 – Splayed Pieces: The Shaker Stool


Segment 8 builds on Segment 7 to show the student how to apply splayed techniques to turned pieces with the example of a Shaker Stool.

Segment 9 – Modeling a Clock Hood with 3 Dimensional Circular Curves


bracket_feetThe curved rail in the Bedside Table is quite simple. The curve is only one dimensional, i.e. it is a curve in only one plane. But how do you model a piece that curves in two or three dimensions? This happens a lot in clock pieces, especially grandfather clocks. The student will be exposed to the tricks to managing these parts in Segment 9.

Segment 10 – Table Top Edges with Non-Circular Curves


Segment 10 is the student’s first introduction to non-circular curves, i.e. curves that cannot be drawn with a simple circle or circle segment. There are a lot of tools that can help the SketchUp modeler with these curves. They are often modeled with Bezier or Spline drawing tools not unlike drawing curves with a pencil and French curve. The student will begin his/her foray into complex curves in this segment.

Segment 11 – Bracket Feet with Bezier Curves


cabriole_legsIn Segment 11 another important technique used in modeling parts with curves in more than one dimension is introduced. The technique is surprisingly simple; break the part into two or more parts, model simple curves and then take the intersections of these parts. This technique is used a lot in modeling bracket feet as we will do in this segment.

Segment 12 – Cabriole Legs with Bezier Curves


Segment 12 is the last and crowning segment in this tutorial. Not surprisingly, in this segment we learn to use some of our latent artistic talents to model the Cabriole leg. The Cabriole leg is modeled by joining three parts into one. The first two are joined much as the student did in Segment 11 to create a new part. This new part is then joined with a third part, the legs pad or slipper foot. This last step requires the students sense of artistry to “stich” the parts together.


I am pleased to announce that American Woodworker and Chiefwoodworker have teamed to bring in-depth and quality SketchUp training to a greater audience of woodworkers. Beginning March 12, 2013 Chiefwoodworker’s Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorials and Intermediate SketchUp Tutorials will be available exclusively through AmericanWoodworkerTV.

AWtv-Beginners-trailerFrom the day I learned of Google SketchUp (now Trimble SketchUp) I became convinced it was a tool perfectly tailored for woodworkers. I have worked hard since 2007 to provide training to fellow woodworkers in the use of this tool. I have met a lot of woodworkers over the last six years and believe I succeeded in giving them the training they needed to add Trimble SketchUp to their woodworking toolbox.

However, the reach of Chiefwoodworker’s Blog can’t compare to the audience American Woodworker enjoys. American Woodworker is dedicated to providing training to woodworkers in all areas of woodworking with quality videos hosted by knowledgeable and expert woodworkers. It is my hope and belief that reaching a much greater audience with my tutorials will provide a greater service to woodworkers everywhere. I am delighted and proud to team with American Woodworker to benefit my fellow woodworkers.

AWtv-intermediate-trailerChiefwoodworker’s Blog will continue to provide posts, newsletters and videos on woodworking and SketchUp and I will continue to support my fellow woodworkers with SketchUp assistance when asked. In addition, I will continue to develop and provide SketchUp plugins. I also expect that my relationship with American Woodworker will grow. So stay tuned to my website (, Chiefwoodworker’s Blog, Chiefwoodworker’s Newsletter and look for me on

American Woodworker Magazine,, AmericanWoodworker.TV and Woodwork Magazine are all properties of New Track Media LLC.

Coat, Boots & Umbrella in WoodEach year the Northeast Woodworkers Association puts on a woodworking show in Saratoga, NY. In my opinion the best woodworking show I have seen and I have been to many. It is held at the Saratoga Springs City Center on March 26 and 27. If you want a preview of the show see my post The 19th Annual NWA Woodworkers Showcase 2010. It has plenty of pictures and a little on Saratoga, a beautiful area to visit, shop and dine; and in the summer see the horse races and a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. See for more information.

This year I will be giving introductory presentations on SketchUp; a beginner’s introduction and an advanced techniques introduction. See for the lecture and demonstration schedules. If you plan on going to the show please stop by to say hello and talk shop or SketchUp.

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