Getting Started

Setup SketchUp. Introduce the rectangle, push/pull, orbit, pan, and zoom tools.
David Heim
5m 2s

Updates for Windows users

Recent releases of SketchUp on Windows have moved the styles options. Instead of underneath the Window > Styles option in the menus, you can find styles inside the Default Tray on the right side of the screen.

Default Tray with Styles expanded


Welcome back. In this video, I'll help you get started with the SketchUp 3D design program. And we'll begin by choosing the right version. For many years, SketchUp was a program that you downloaded to your computer. There was one free version and one pro version that you bought a license to use. Today, there are several different versions of SketchUp. Some are web based, some are downloadable, and you get them all by buying an annual subscription. There are two free versions of SketchUp. The one you see here is called SketchUp free it's web-based, but it's pretty limited. You can't do much to change the interface, things like line weights for the lines you draw, and you have tools that are hidden behind other tools. Worst of all, for wood workers, you can't easily use SketchUp free to make a cut list.

The free version of SketchUp that I prefer is called SketchUp Make 2017. It's the one you see here. You have a lot of latitude with this version for line weights, background color, and so on. It's full featured, and you can use SketchUp Make 2017 to generate a cut list. There is one catch though, SketchUp is no longer supporting or updating Make 2017, so there's no telling how long it will be around. Overall, I think the best value in SketchUp for personal use is SketchUp pro. You can use it on your desktop as a download or on the web, and it's $299 for an annual subscription.

The full featured versions of SketchUp come with a number of ready-made templates, including one for woodworking. It does pay to customize the look of this template, and here's what I recommend. Go to the window tab and choose styles. And when that little window opens, click on the edit button, then click on the farthest left of the five thumbnails you see under the edit button. Make sure there's a check mark in the box for edges and in box next to profiles, change the number in there to a one. That gives you a nice thin line for your drawings. Go to the second thumbnail. And if you want, you can change the front color of your shapes and the back colors. You can leave that alone though. The defaults are pretty good. Then on the middle thumbnail, uncheck the box for sky and ground, and for the box labeled background, use the RGB sliders and move them all, all the way to the right to give yourself a nice, pure white background.

That's all you need to do there. You can close the styles tab, go back to window and choose model info and choose units. Set the format to fractional. You don't want architectural or decimal or any of those others, and set the precision to 1/16 of an inch. That's all you really need to do. Finally, go to file, save as template, give it a name and make sure there's a check in the box that says set as default template and then click save, and you're done. The next time you open SketchUp, this is the template you'll be using. Once you have SketchUp set up the way you like, you're ready to begin using it to make models. In the next video, I'll show you how to get started with a rundown of the programs tools.