Using SketchUp Tools

Start using SketchUp. Rundown of most important tools.
David Heim
9m 22s


Welcome back. In this video, you'll begin using the SketchUp 3D design program. And we'll start with a rundown of the most important tools. As I demonstrate the tools, feel free to pause the video so you can practice with each one. When you open SketchUp, you'll see the tools in a row across the top of the screen. Trouble is, some tools are hidden behind others. That's why I like to use the large tool set. On a Mac, you go to the view tab, choose tool palettes and large tool set. It's pretty much the same on Windows. You go to view and tool bars and choose large tool set. Nice thing about the large tool set is you can position it anywhere on the screen and all the tools are in plain view.

The arrow or select tool at the top of the toolbar is the one you use to select things. Click on something once to select it. Double click something to select all of an object's lines, edges, and faces, or use the select tool to draw a box around an object to select it. The eraser makes your mistakes go away. And the line tool, the one that looks like a pencil, is for drawing straight lines. You click and drag to generate a line and use the arrow keys on the key pad to keep these lines moving parallel to the SketchUp axis lines. Tap the right arrow to keep things moving along the red axis. The left arrow to keep the line moving along parallel to the green axis. And the up arrow to keep the line moving parallel to the blue axis.

The circle tool draws circles. The rectangle tool draws rectangles. And there are four different tools for arcs. The one you'll use the most probably is the two point arc tool. Works this way. You click once to anchor one end of the arc, drag and then click to anchor the other end of the arc. Then drag again, to set the amount of curvature in the arc, and you can connect arcs together to make S shapes. Next come the modeling tools. The move tool is what you use to move objects around on the screen. And if you use the move tool in conjunction with option on the Mac or control on the PC, you can copy an object and move the copy around on the screen.

The push pull tool gives a two dimensional object its third dimension. You can also use push pull like a drill to punch a hole in an object. Here I'm limiting the amount of pushing and pulling by touching the back edge of this cube. There's our hole. The follow me tool works like the world's coolest router. It extrudes shapes along a path like moldings. I'm just going to select a path by holding down the shift key as I click on these three lines. Then I'll get the follow me tool, click once in this shape, and there I've generated a molding.

The tool that you'll probably use the most often is the tape measure tool. And that's because nearly everything you do in the shop begins with a measurement of some kind. And it's the same in SketchUp. You use the tape measure to lay down dotted guidelines that will tell you where to position things or where to draw new objects. So I'm just going to use the line tool now to trace over some of those guidelines that I drew. And now I can select that shape and use the move tool and drag it over to where these two guidelines cross. And as soon as I hit that spot, I get a little prompt from SketchUp telling me that I have a corner right on that intersection. And that's exactly what I want.

Finally, the navigation tools get you around. Orbit lets you maneuver to see your model from any angle. Pan lets you move what you've drawn left or right, up or down, without really changing the angle of view. Zoom moves you farther away or closer. And zoom extents, brings everything that you've drawn into view and centers it on the screen.

It's very easy to work precisely in SketchUp. All you have to do is type in the lengths and distances that you want and SketchUp will deliver. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to start drawing a line, but I want you to keep your eye on the little box on the lower right hand corner of the screen. Notice right now it's labeled length, because I'm going to be drawing a line. I'll click and begin dragging to create the line. Notice that the numbers in the box change as I make the line longer or shorter. I'll just stop moving the mouse and type the value that I want. In this case, 150 inches. Press enter and SketchUp delivers exactly that length of line.

You can use that box in conjunction with all of the tools. For the move tool, notice that the label on the box now changes to distance. I can grab an object and start to move it. Type the amount of distance I want to move it, and SketchUp will deliver. It also works with the push pull tool. I can start giving something its third dimension. Type the amount of pulling I want to do. And again, SketchUp delivers.

Finally, learn to look for and use the dozens of prompts and inferences that SketchUp hovers. They'll help you draw quickly and accurately. And let me show you just a couple. When you move the tape measure across the edge of an object, SketchUp will tell you when you've hit the middle. You'll see the cursor change color, and you can actually feel the cursor stop like it's hit a dead end. When you want to position one object next to another, again, SketchUp will give you a prompt that tells you when you've hit the right spot. When we are midpoint in component, and SketchUp will also tell you when you've hit your mark with guidelines that you've laid down with the tape measure tool.

In the next video I'll cover what is absolutely positively the most important thing to know about SketchUp.