CutList Bridge
CutList Bridge
NESAW
New England School of Architectural Woodworking
CutList Plus fx
CutList Plus fx
Ads By Google


Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

Berkshire Woodworkers

Wood Use Site

CabWriter Home Page


Check out the April 29, 2017 issue and see if this is of interest to you. Sign up to receive Chiefwoodworker's Newsletter by entering your email address below. (Privacy Policy)

Next Page »


Cherry BedA number of years back I built a bed for myself using pictures and plans from an article in Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001, page 52.

Constructed entirely of native New England cherry, it is finished with a natural, hand rubbed tung oil. Cherry will darken naturally with age to a rich reddish brown. The legs and rails are one piece, no glue-ups. This adds a little to the cost but makes the finished product more appealing.

Though not visible, the curved rail of the headboard has a natural grain pattern that looks like a dolphin jumping out of the water. We are always looking for natural patterns to incorporate in a piece.

I modified the bed slightly to have a clearance of 12″ under the bed to allow for storage and easy cleaning.

Cherry DresserDetail of Top, Trim, Chamfer and Lamb's TongueA few years later I designed and built two matching dressers. At right above is pictured the bed and at left the dresser. The dresser stands 48 1/4” tall, 36” wide and 18 1/2” deep. There are five graduated drawers, the top drawer having a faux front to simulate two drawers.

All Five Drawers Are Hand DovetailedLike the bed, the dresser is made of native New England cherry; the drawer boxes are poplar. The convex curves in the bed are picked up in the concave curves of the dresser. The legs have the same curved taper design at the bottom, chamfered on the corners with a lamb’s tongue at each end. The sides of the dresser pick up the tongue and grove slats from the headboard and footboard of the bed. To keep the same feel in heftiness I used stout 2” x 2” legs and a 1” top on the dresser.

In all my pieces I use traditional drawer design with floating tapered bottoms and hand cut dovetails. This project was a twin dresser build, so I had ten drawers to dovetail. At the end of an entire day of dovetailing these 68 year old hands can cramp up a lot ;<)

Hand Cut DovetailsMy current project is to design and construct matching bedside tables with two drawers and some space for books or a small stereo unit. I have a multi-part video series on my American Woodworker blog detailing the design process and modeling. You can view Designing Furniture From Scratch In SketchUp–Part 1 by clicking on this hyperlink.

SketchUp Model of the Cherry Bedside TableAt right is a picture of the SketchUp model of the matching bedside table. You can see how the curves, legs and slatted sides appear in all three pieces; bed, dresser and bedside table. The bedside table stands 32” high, 20 1/2” wide and 19 1/4” deep. The opening is 11 3/4” high and 14” wide; tall enough for an 8 1/2” x 11” notebook.

In the near future there will be detailed SketchUp models and shop drawings on my Free Plans page for all three pieces. Perhaps one day I will design a matching bureau and mirrors. Stay tuned.


Completed StandI recently finished a four part post to my American Woodworker blog site titled The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers. This series of posts demonstrates how to create a 3D model based on 2D drawings from any woodworking book or drawings. The specific piece is a Shaker Round Stand pictured at right. If you wish to learn how this piece was modeled in SketchUp and shop drawings created you can follow the links below:

  1. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 1
  2. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 2
  3. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 3
  4. The Book of Shaker Furniture by John Kassay – A Treasure Trove for SketchUp Generation Woodworkers – Part 4

If you wish to build this stand you can go to my Free Plans page (menu), look in the spreadsheet under Tables for Shaker Round Stand. Click the smiley face in the SketchUp column to download the SketchUp model and shop drawings. You can print out a full scale drawing of the pedestal and leg used in this piece to create templates for the shop. If you have trouble printing to scale in SketchUp see my post Printing To Scale With SketchUp Make & SketchUp Pro 2013. The techniques used in this post also works for SketchUp version 7 & 8.


Google SketchUp is now Trimble SketchUp

As most of you already know, Trimble acquired the SketchUp division from Google. Fortunately, Trimble SketchUp 8 is still free and a 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.

Completed Bedside Table ModelYours truly will be giving two fall courses in Beginner’s SketchUp. In these courses 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. At the course end each student will have completed a textured model and shop drawings; the textured model is shown above. Finally, we will learn how to extend the functionality of SketchUp through the use and customization of Ruby scripts. A notebook computer with SketchUp 8 installed is required for this course.

Sign up and join me for a fun filled learning experience. One that will pay dividends for many years and woodworking projects to come.

New England School of Architectural Woodworking (NESAW)

The NESAW Introduction to Google SketchUp course is a series of five Thursday evening meetings at NESAW in Easthampton, MA. Classes run from 6:30 – 9:30 pm October 11th through November 8th. No materials are needed beyond a notebook with SketchUp 8 installed. Go to either of the following links to register or seek further information.

http://www.nesaw.com/

http://www.workbenchschool.com/

Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking (CVSW)

The CVSW A Beginners Guide to Using SketchUp in Woodworking is a two day course given Manchester, CT. Classes run from 9:30 – 5:00 pm on Saturday & Sunday, December 8th & 9th. No materials are needed beyond a notebook with SketchUp 8 installed. Go to the following link to register or seek further information.

http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/


Jesse's Finished Drafting TableThroughout my career I was fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest and most energetic young engineers. In my retirement that luck has continued with a string of woodworking apprentices: Amber Baker, Melissa Stylos and Jesse Moy. I call them my apprentices, though I am neither qualified in the traditional European apprenticeship sense, nor do I have an official apprenticeship program. “My apprentices” is a label of affection because I have grown to appreciate and respect each of them for their drive, desire to learn a traditional skill and the quality of labor they brought to the task.

Inside The Drafting Table Is Storage For The T-Square & Other Drawing ToolsToday Jesse came to pick up his completed project and so he graduated in a sense. I introduced you to both Jesse and Melissa in my March 29, 2012 newsletter (Amber in my December 1, 2010 newsletter). See the March issue for Jesse’s background.

Jesse and I met in December of last year when he was introduced to me by Steve Racz of CutList Ruby script fame. Jesse had just finished a timber frame program at The Heartwood School the previous spring and was a co-student with Steve. He told me he wanted to learn fine furniture crafting and could I help him. I said sure, can you spend about two days a week in the shop?

A SketchUp Sketchy Rendering of the Drafting TableThe plan was simple. Jesse was to help me build two cherry chest of drawers to learn fine furniture woodworking. He would be under my guidance each step of the way. We would start with rough lumber selection, then stock preparation, followed by milling, layout & cutting of joinery  etc. He would learn both power tool use & safety and hand tool use & sharpening. I am big on hand tool use and told him he would have to master the use of planes, chisels and hand saws during this first phase. Then Jesse would build a project of his own design, working on his own, getting help from me only when he asked for it. That was the deal.

A SketchUp Sketchy Rendering of the Drafting Table InsideI believe you learn woodworking mostly from doing it – and – having a project of value to work on. Jesse certainly had that motivation. Jesse and his woman friend, Christina, have plans to obtain graduate degrees in architecture. The project Jesse chose is a portable drafting table which he plans to gift to Christina upon her graduation this month from The Conway School’s Sustainable Landscape Design program. Certainly this is a project of value and a labor of love. What better way to learn fine woodworking.

Learning to Hand Cut DovetailsJesse didn’t just choose a project and design it himself. He had to learn SketchUp too, and then model his design and produce the shop drawings to work from. In the tradition of Swamp Road Wood Work’s SketchUp models, Jesse is making his SketchUp model available to anyone who wishes to build this drafting table, or modify his design for another use. At a later date I will place Jess’s drafting table on my Free Plans page.

As mentioned earlier, drawers and carcasses crafted at SRWW are almost always joined using hand cut dovetails. In the construction of the cherry chests Jesse learned not only through dovetails, but half-blind dovetails too. He started by practicing straight cuts on scrap wood; over and over and over until he could follow a layout line. Soon he was cutting tails and pins and putting together practice joints. As is typical, his first dovetail joint was almost perfect – beginner’s luck; his second and third not so much. But each one got better and better. Jesse built the first drawers of my cherry chest on his own and I was very pleased with the result.

Jesse's Hand Crafted DrawersThe design Jesse created was full of hand joinery, some quite complex. The carcass employed hand cut through and half-blind dovetails, the drawers through and half-blind dovetails. Several styles of dadoes – traditional and v-grove – were employed. In addition, many of the dadoes were of the stopped variety. While the dadoes and rabbets were cut with the table saw and router, some were formed, or cleaned up, using a shoulder plane & shooting board or chisel. Jesse learned both the value of fine tuning joinery as well as the cost if you skipped this step.

Dadoes, Both Stopped & Through, and Half-Blind & Through DovetailsJesse was taught the tails first method of hand cut dovetails. And he was taught to cut to – but leave – a line when cutting the pins, since pins are laid out by tracing the tails. If done correctly you should still see the pencil lines after tails are cut. The more difficult dovetail joint is the half-blind dovetail because you have to cut to – but leave – the line, and you have to cut a complex angle and keep from unsightly overcutting. The picture below left shows how well Jesse performed this task.

Jesse's Well Formed Half-Blind DovetailsAmong the many things about fine furniture design and crafting Jesse learned was the importance of taking seasonal shrinkage/expansion into account. His top is fairly large and hence subject to seasonal changes in width and cupping. To account for this Jesse employed breadboard ends. He learned to use a moisture meter, first calibrating it and setting it for a particular wood species. Then making a moisture reading and using it to calculate dimensional changes taking into account species, board type (quarter sawn verses plain sawn), area of the country and the application (breadboard). Armed with this information he knew how wide to cut the top such that the average width over the full season would be the length of the breadboard ends.

Further, he learned to elongate the pin holes in the tenons in a graduated way, the first hole in the front un-elongated and each subsequent hole elongated in a graduated way to allow for maximum expansion and contraction. If you look closely at the picture below right you can see this graduated elongation.

Mortise, Tenon & Haunch Joinery for Seasonal ChangesPlanning the inside layout of the drafting table was no small feat. Jesse had to provide storage for the T-Square, allow space and partitioning for the drawers, provide space at the ends for sticks that would hold the top open at the desired angle while drawing, and finally leave space for storage of other drafting tools, pencils, erasers etc.

Hardware choice was a particularly daunting task. Many woodworkers don’t understand the value of selecting and acquiring the hardware before completing the design and beginning crafting. Jesse learned this lesson somewhat the hard way. He also discovered that he couldn’t have chosen a more labor intensive drawer pull than the ones he chose. If you look at the sixth picture from the top you will see what I mean. The drawer pulls needed to be set into the drawer front. Creating the precise opening required the construction of a jig for the router. That was followed by drilling a rather large hole using a Forstner bit and then manually scooping out a ball shaped volume.

The Inside Layout Took Careful ConsiderationNot shown are the 6-lb rare-earth magnets and associated hardware to keep the drawers from falling out when the drafting table is moved. These are mounted into the drawer backs and the partition just behind the drawers. Knowing where to place this partition required detailed knowledge of the rare-earth magnet hardware which Jesses neglected to order until late in the game. To his credit he figured out how to stage the construction and glue-up so he could rescue himself from this situation.

Shown in the picture below right are the spalted maple T-Square and the top with breadboard ends. Both the T-Square and the breadboard ends are attached using pegs. This project for sure employed a wide variety of joinery making it an ideal project for learning fine woodworking. Looking at these pictures, especially the two of the completed piece; I think you will agree with me that Jesse is no longer an apprentice and deserves to be called a fine woodworker. His “graduation” comes with mixed emotion. I am happy to witness his end product turn out so well and I am proud of Jesse and his efforts. But I will miss working with such a talented, dedicated and hardworking individual. A young man who has become a good friend.

Spalted Maple T-Square & Breadboard Ends Attached With PegsDuring the course of our working together I dropped my #5 Jack plane and broke the handle. As a going away gift Jesse gave me a replacement handle and a gift of a Shaker furniture book. Every time I pick up my Jack or refer to that book I will be reminded of a young man with a bright future who passed through my life and shop and gave me the pleasure of teaching him fine woodworking. Good luck Jesse.


SketchUp model of the Bedside Table showing the beveled top.One of my Beginner’s SketchUp students, upon finishing the course, decided to build the Bedside Table I used as the learning vehicle in the video series. He wrote and asked for advice on a safe way to cut the top’s bevels. I thought this might be of general interest. So here is one of many approaches; and it is a safe one.

Click on the picture at left to enlarge it. You will notice that the table top is 3/4” thick, begins to bevel on all sides 1/4” down from the top. The bevel is 2” wide. This works out to about 14 degrees. The table top is 18 1/2” by 23” with the grain running in the long dimension.

I chose to cut the bevels on my table saw and clean them up with a hand plane. Finishing them with a hand plane is particularly necessary with cherry because it burns so easily. More on that in a moment.

Beveling fixture with table top clamped in place.

To cut the bevels on a table saw you need to set the blade for 14 degrees (you can’t set it for 76 degrees) and hold the top in a vertical plane as you cut. The fixture at right is simple and safe. It is made from scrap plywood. The important features are: the vertical and horizontal members must be perpendicular; the horizontal member must be the same width along its length; the vertical member should be tall enough to support the size table top you intend to cut; and the length of the horizontal and vertical members must be a little longer than the width or depth of the table top you intend to bevel. When assembling it keep the vertical member in front of the horizontal member to provide a perfectly flat front plane. Make the braces large enough to firmly support the members and also allow you to use them as handle to push the fixture along.

Saw balade set to 14 degrees. Stiffener & zero clearance insert removed.

Notice in the picture at left that I have set the saw blade for 14 degrees. (You can gauge 14 degrees with your eyes, right?) Also notice I had to remove the blade stiffener  to get enough height on the blade, and my zero clearance insert. The clamps I used here I used for expediency sake. If this were a real cut on a real top I would have used Bessey Tradesmen’s Bar Clamps. They have two advantages. First they are stronger and clamp tighter. Second, they have clearance and allow you to reach further in from the edge. This is important, because all tops bow slightly, however slight. You may not notice it, but as you will see in a moment even an unnoticeable bow will show up as a curved bevel. Get you clamps as close to the blade as safely possible; dry run a pass past the blade to be sure they will clear it.

Safely pushing the fixture and top past the saw blade.Set the fence so that the bevel begins 1/4” down from the top face (the top face is the surface that is against the fixture). With you hands on the supports hold the fixture up against the fence and slide the top through the blade. Be sure to keep your arm high and to the support side of the vertical member. Push the fixture and the top all the way through. DO NOT try to pull the fixture back! Turn the saw off and set up for the next cut. The piece I am cutting here is scrap plywood. I couldn’t waste precious cherry on an demonstrationWinking smile But if it were cherry I would try to push it through as fast as safely possible to avoid burning. However, it is almost impossible to avoid all burning, and the saw blade leaves machine marks too. So get out you trusty block plan or smoother and clean it up.

Finished bevel on scrap plywood.

Remember my comment about good clamps and keeping them tight and as close to the blade as is safe? Look at the finished  bevel at left. This piece of plywood was quite flat but still produced a curved looking bevel. Fear not. It looks worse than it actually is, largely due to the parallel lines of a plywood cross section. It makes the curve look worse than is real. And your real piece will have curvy grain or end grain and it tend to hide the curve. Still, pay attention getting the clamping right, and pay particular attention to making sure any clamps you use clear the blade.

An alternate fixture that doesn't require tilting the saw blade.If you are going to do a lot of beveled tops, all of the same angle, you might want to consider a fixture which is itself beveled, such as that shown right. The advantage here is that you don’t have to tilt the saw blade, remove the stiffener and the zero clearance insert. Nor do you have to recalibrate your saw blade to 90 degrees when you are done. The disadvantage with this fixture is that the angle is fixed. But I am sure you could design a mechanism that would be adjustable.

In the second, third and fourth pictures above you can easily see that my cabinet saw is right tilting, that is the blade tilts to the right. I have to move my fence to the left side, which means I also have to change the side the fence attaches to the locking mechanism. Not a problem if you have a Biesemeyer fence. Also, the left side of the blade has a short table which limits the horizontal member’s width. Another reason for building the fixture with a built in angle. That would avoid the fence changes and I could then work on the right side of the blade where the table is wide. The fixture itself doesn’t care which side of the blade it is used on. If your saw tilts left you have no such problems. If it tilts right, like mine, I highly recommend the fixture with the built in angle.

I started out by claiming this to be a safe approach to beveling a top. It is, provided you follow normal shop safety procedures. If you don’t then there is no approach that is safe. This fixture keeps you hands and arms a safe distance from the saw blade. Each cut simply requires turning the top and re-clamping. Safe beveling!


One of my students wrote me enquiring how to draw tapered and splayed legs. He was trying to use the usual technique starting with a square representing the cross-sectional area and extruding it to the legs height.  Tapered and splayed legs are tricky to draw because of the compound angle the top and bottom of the leg are cut. The usual way of drawing a tapered leg can be used, but when the legs are then splayed in two directions you run into numerous problems with Rotation and Push/Pull operations. Unless you were an A+ student in high school geometry class and can visualize complex rotations in your head,this is a difficult way to proceed.

Tapered & Splayed LegsAn easy way to draw these legs is to treat them as the intersection of two parts; each an extrusion, one from a front view and one from a side view. This can be done with the Intersect Faces tool. This video demonstrates this technique.

As you watch the video there is a portion of it where I run into problems because of SketchUp’s difficulty in dealing with very small entities. I stumbled and eventually found a work-around. I chose not to edit this out because I thought it a good learning experience for both you and me. I did add a subsequent section to the video to show a better approach. So I apologize for the rather amateurish resulting video, but the teaching and learning moment I couldn’t pass up.

This also points out one of the tenets of drawing in SketchUp. Think ahead! If I had practiced this tenet on this particular occasion I would not have run into this problem.

Viewing The Video

You can view Drawing Tapered & Splayed Legs 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 Drawing Tapered & Splayed Legs click here or paste

http://blip.tv/file/get/Chiefwoodworker-DrawingTaperedSplayedLegs579.mp4

into your 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 player’s controls. Exit full screen mode with the Esc key. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!


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 http://www.nwawoodworkingshow.org/ for more information.

This year I will be giving introductory presentations on SketchUp; a beginner’s introduction and an advanced techniques introduction. See http://www.nwawoodworkingshow.org/11promo/2011lectures.htm 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.


By far and away the biggest problem beginners have with SketchUp is its sticky nature. I did when I started and I have talked to a lot of teachers who say the same. However, the students that have taken my tutorials seem to avoid this problem for the most part; apparently because they have rules to follow that keeps them out of trouble. Kudos to me I guess for providing the rules and harping on them. However, I have heard from  a lot of students who struggle with correct layer placement of primitives. So many so that I can only conclude I failed to provide a tool, similar to the six rules, to keep them out of trouble. In this post I hope to correct that mistake.

At the end of this post is a video and along the way is a tool for testing to see if you have the problem described here. The tool will also help you fix the problem. But I encourage you to read this rather long, and at times confusing, post before viewing the video or using the tool. The combination of the words and the video, I trust, will make clear the differences and the dependents of Primitives, Components & Layers on each other.

The Problem – Some Parts or All of a Component Are Missing

Top face of the Drawer Bottom is missing - it is not on Layer0A student places a component on an appropriate layer, probably when other layers are also visible. Later, when He/She want to view only that layer, there are surprised to see a component with missing primitives or no component(s) at all. The problem is that not all of the primitives that make up the component are on the same layer, which should be Layer0. This is usually caused by accidentally or intentionally making a layer other than Layer0 (Layer zero) active while modeling the component. Whenever encounter this problem you should first try the Triple Click Test described below before trying another solution. But first lets get some definitions straight.

Primitives

Primitives are Points, Lines, Freehand polylines, Arcs, Circles, Polygons or Squares. Any of these basic drawing elements that are not encapsulated in a group or component are a primitive. Primitives stick together, which is why we don’t let primitives of different parts touch. We separate them by making them groups or components. Primitives, no matter the level of a group or component hierarchy they exist on, should be on Layer0 (Layer zero).

How can you test for a primitive? Select it. If it is a face and is filled with blue dots it is a primitive. If it is a line segment and is colored blue it is a primitive. If a bounding box appears showing the volume (or area) consumed by the entity you selected, it is a group or component and not a primitive. By the way, a single entity cannot be made a group or component. A group or component must contain at least two primitives and one of them cannot be a point.

Components

Components are created from a set of two or more primitives. When the user creates a component He/She essentially encapsulates these primitives in a protective barrier. Changes cannot be made to a component excepts in the Edit Component mode. If the user wishes, He/She can even Lock the component so it can’t be modified, even in the Edit Component mode.

Components can be hierarchical, meaning a component can be created by encapsulating multiple and mixed collections of components, groups and primitives. The level of hierarchy can be numerous (though there may be a limit imposed by SketchUp). For example, a dresser can be a component. It can be made of components such as end panels, stiles, rails, drawers, top, back and feet. The Drawers can be multiple instances of a Drawer component made of sides, back, bottom, front, trim and pull. In this way sub-assemblies can be defined in hierarchical fashion. But no matter what level in a hierarchy (assembly, sub-assembly, component) a component exists, its primitives should reside on Layer0 (layer zero).

Technically speaking from a SketchUp API point of view, components are an encapsulation of entity objects (primitives) which become a definition object in the SketchUp model object. That is why we give a component a Definition Name. To my way of thinking, the software engineers who designed SketchUp exposed too much of its technical underpinnings in the user interface. This tag might better have been called Component Name and a part name might be Instance Name. But hey, they didn’t consult me, and hence didn’t have the benefit of my wisdom.

Layers

If you have ever watched a magician on a stage,surrounded by many objects that He/She make disappear and reappear at will, then you have seen layers in action. Layers are nothing more than a way to arrange primitives, components and groups such that you can make them disappear and reappear at will. More precisely by unchecking or checking the Visibility box for the layer on which they reside. Layers have an associated control, which for the beginner is very troublesome. The Active radio button to the left of the Layer’s name. In the rules we follow to model in SketchUp, we are told to always leave Layer0 active while modeling. That way all primitives will reside on Layer0.

In modeling for woodworking I have not found a single situation where making another layer active allows for, or simplifies a drawing technique. I am convinced that, at least from a woodworking point of view, if SketchUp fixed Layer0 active and didn’t allow for making another layer active, no functionality would be lost. That’s not to say that you can’t learn to do things in a way that includes changing the active layer. I am simply saying making another layer active is not necessary and it is for sure error prone.

Here is a point that you should understand as clearly as you can. When you place a component or group on a layer you are not actually placing the primitives, of which it consists, on that layer. You are merely placing the recipe for the component on that layer. The recipe in this case if the definition object for that component or group.

When you make a layer visible SkecthUp displays all primitives on that layer first and then attempts to cook all the recipes on that layer, meaning any group or component definition that resides on that layer it attempts to construct and display. But like a good chef, a meal cannot be prepared from a recipe if all the ingredients are not available. In the case of SketchUp, it can not construct and display a component or group from a definition if not all the primitives called for are visible. If the layer that holds the primitives is not visible, then the primitives on that layer are not available to SketchUp to include in the construction and display of the definition. But if all primitives are on Layer0, and Layer0 is always active, all primitives are available for whatever component or group SkecthUp is trying to construct and display.

Said another way, in order for SketchUp to construct and display a component or group the layer(s) that contain all the primitives, groups or components included in it must be visible (Visibility box checked) and the layer containing its definition must also be visible.

Layer0 Is A Special Layer

If you experiment with primitives and components spread across various layers, including viewing them under various configurations of Visibility boxes checked, you will quickly discover that Layer0 is special; it behaves slightly differently that any other layer. Here are the differences:

    1. Layer0 can not be deleted or purged.
    2. You cannot change the name of Layer0.
    3. Primitives that reside on Layer0 are available for SketchUp to construct and display a component or group even if its visibility box is not checked.

These differences alone tell me that the architects of SketchUp likely thought that users would always draw on Layer0 and move groups and components to another layer. In the video at the end of this post I will demonstrate these differences.

The Triple Click Test

At the beginning of this post I hinted at giving you a tool that would help discover problems you might have created, either accidentally or intentionally, by activating a layer beside Layer0. If you have read this far you deserve a tool. Here it is. Use this tool anytime you choose a layer combination where you expect to see a group or component only to see one with missing parts or not visible at all. This test works only for non-nested or hierarchical groups or components.

    1. Triple click (click three times fast) on a component or group. This will put you in Edit Component mode with all primitives in the component selected.
    2. Look at the Layer drop down box. It should say Layer0.
    3. If the Layer drop down box is anything other than Layer0 or is blank click the drop down arrow and choose Layer0.
    4. Exit Edit Component mode and the problem is solved.

The above test can be used in a modified way to test nested or hierarchical groups and components. I will demonstrate that in the video that follows.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words – How Much Is A Video Worth?

Perhaps the best way to conquer this pesky problem that plagues beginners is to demonstrate it in a video. You can view it by pressing the play icon below or by downloading it to your system and playing it.

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 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 this video click here or paste

http://blip.tv/file/get/Chiefwoodworker-PrimitivesComponentsLayers777.mp4

into your 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 player’s controls. Exit full screen mode with the Esc key. This video is approximately 35 minutes long. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!


What Ails You Baby?

In Part 8 I conclude this series by covering material that has been particularly troubling. I get a lot of email from people who are following along but get stuck in a place that is frustrating and confusing. That is normal and part of the learning process. I tried to keep track of which areas were the culprits and this tutorial is intended to shed additional light on them.

To follow along in this tutorial you may wish to download the following two files. Be sure to save these files where you are certain to find them. Click on each of the following files to download and save them:

Special Layer Zero.skp
PushPull.skp

It may be necessary to right click on the above links and choose Save Link As to download them.

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 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 this video click here or paste

http://blip.tv/file/get/Chiefwoodworker-BeginnersSketchUpTutorialPart8578.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 50 minutes long. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

This concludes the Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial series. In the not too distant future I will begin An Intermediate Google SketchUp Tutorial – The Video Version series. It will deal with complex shapes and complex curves. The series will parallel An Intermediate Google SketchUp Tutorial written version already available on my Google SketchUp page. So if you can’t wait for the video series you can start there. Until then bye for now.


Is It Real? Or Is It Memorex?

Textured Bedside TableToday we are going to texture the Bedside Table and produce a nearly photorealistic model that can be presented to a client.

With the help of Photoshop Lightroom I was able to create jpeg files of representative grain for each wood species used in the Bedside Table. I will not describe the steps I performed in Lightroom since that is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but you can use any jpeg file (or many other file formats) as a texture. The quality of the jpeg will determine whether your model looks realistic or not. The trade off is that higher quality requires larger files and bloated models. The choice is yours. In this tutorial I have opted for a reasonably high quality to demonstrate the capabilities of SketchUp. However, rest assured, I am not an expert SketchUp modeler; an expert can do far better than I have here, but I think the objectives of this tutorial will be achieved, as demonstrated by the picture at left (click on the picture to enlarge).

Cherry Chest Of DrawersAs an interesting side story, the picture at left is one of a completed project I built for my wife. You can see additional shots of this Cherry Chest Of Drawers in my Gallery. It is from this piece that I took the digital photos of cherry grain to create the textures used in this post. The SketchUp model of this piece is also available on my Free Plans page.

One day I was contacted by William Manning, Senior Director, IDX Renditioner, a division of IMSI that makes a plugin for SketchUp. Their plugin greatly enhances the texturing engine. William asked if they could use my SketchUp model of this piece, and some of my pictures, to texture the model and achieve a photorealistic image. The picture below right is the result (click to enlarge image). Notice the shadows. To see more photorealistic images of this model and other SketchUp model go to the IDX Renditioner Gallery.

Textured & Rendered Cherry Chest Of Drawers 3D Model - Note ShadowsIMPORTANT:

To follow along in this tutorial you will need to download seven texture files. Be sure to save these files where you are certain to find them. Click on each of the following files to download and save them:

blistered_maple_h.jpg
cherry_h.jpg
cherry_v.jpg
maple_h.jpg
maple_v.jpg
walnut_h.jpg
walnut_v.jpg

It may be necessary to right click on the above links and choose Save Link As to download them.

Preparing to View the Video

A completed SketchUp model of the Bedside Table can be downloaded from my website srww.com. 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 textured components.

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 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 this video click here or paste

http://blip.tv/file/get/Chiefwoodworker-BeginnersSketchUpTutorialPart7276.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 40 minutes long. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

See you in Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorial, The Video Version–Part 8.

Next Page »


Back Issues of Chiefwoodworker's Newsletter