Saturday, March 25, 2023

I learned Sketchup

 I recently came into possession of an old Craftsman radial arm saw. I wasn't looking for one but when my father-in-law recently passed away I inherited his. He'd had it on a homemade stand made of 2x4's. It was serviceable but since it was easier to transport the saw without the stand I didn't take it. Also, since this will not be an everyday tool I cannot dedicate space in my primary workshop for it. This means I need a mobile base for a fairly heavy tool.

A friend of mine - we'll call him "Dave" to protect his identity - is a new woodworker and is still building his shop. When he was looking at buying a contractor table saw I did some research looking for home made mobile bases. He ended up buying one with a mobile stand and didn't need a homemade stand but I remembered this stand from my research.

It's a cute little cart and fits a lot of the criteria I was looking for:

  • Mobile
  • Smallish foorprint
  • No fussy build details
  • Stable
Their cart looks to be built out of southern yellow pine and plywood. My initial design was also using construction grade lumber and plywood; however, when picking up the saw I found a whole mess of veneered lumber. I changed my plan to use all sheet goods.

This is what I came up with:

Two sheets of plywood for each of the end panels. Each of the rails will be two strips of plywood. Then there will be a sheet of plywood on the top. 

What I wanted to mention here was, "I learned Sketchup". If you are reading this you've probably already heard of Sketchup. If you haven't, Sketchup is a 3d modeling tool with lots of features. If you are somewhat technically literate and maybe have some 3d design background it is quick and intuitive to learn. I made the above model after watching 40 minutes of videos and then another 5-10 hours of playing with the tool.

Pretty much every woodworker with a YouTube channel has made a video on how to get started so I am not going to try and replicate that here. The video I used was the Foureyes Furniture Part 1 & 2 by Chris Solomone.
Part 1:
Part 2:

As of this writing the professional version costs $300/year. As a occasional hobbyist wood worker I could see spending $300 as a one-time cost; however, per year is a little much for me. Fortunately they provide a web-based version that is free for non-commercial use (i.e. hobbyists like me) and what I used for the above plan.

One real strength is the ability to remove or hide parts, or spin to alternate perspectives.

More on this later but I wanted to share my excitement at learning the basics of Sketchup. I'll probably still keep using my pencil and paper for my initial drafting but I'm going to try to do final versions in Sketchup. I could see when I get a little more agile in the tool I might switch to using it exclusively.