Some Basic Sketchup Commands for Woodworkers (Anyone Really)

Even if you have no intention of using Sketchup for drawing up furniture plans or ideas, it sure is handy for viewing furniture built by others, for getting dimensions, specifics regarding how a piece of furniture was built, and you can literally dismantle the furniture & put it back together. Maybe it’s just me, but these features fascinate me to no end. And you only need to know a hand full of simple commands, to accomplish the above feats. I kid
you not.


Download Sketchup
For starters Sketchup is a free download, available from Trimble. So first thing you need to do, is go to the following Link (Trimble SketchUp ), and left click on “Download Sketchup”.

Listed below are the hand full of commands, I made reference to above.

Keyboard Command Shortcuts:

Tape Measurer Command
1) “T” is the keyboard key shortcut.
2) Press the keyboard key “T”, left click for example an endpoint on a line, and move the mouse cursor to the other end of the line. This will give you a dimensional reading, between the two points. The dimensional reading will pop up on the screen.

Move Command
1) “M” is the keyboard key shortcut.
2) Press the keyboard key “M”, left click on what you want to move, move the mouse cursor (What you want to move, will move with the mouse cursor), and left click again when what your moving is moved where you want it.

Orbit Command
1) “O” is the keyboard key shortcut.
2) Press the keyboard key “O”, hold the left mouse button down, & drag in the direction you want to rotate the entire sketch on the screen. Release the left mouse button, when the sketch has been rotated, to its new desired orientation.

Pan Command
1) “H” is the keyboard key shortcut.
2) Press the keyboard key “H”, hold the left mouse button down, and drag in the direction that you want to move the sketch. Release the left mouse button, when the sketch has been shifted, to its new desired position.

Undue Command
1) “Ctrl + Z” is the keyboard key shortcut. Press both the “Ctrl” key, and the “Z” key at the same time.
2) Use to undue the last command you did. This is your “Do Over” button, at least in the world of Sketchup.

Zooming In Command
1) “Ctrl + Shift + W” is the keyboard key shortcut. Press the keys “Ctrl”, “Shift”, & “W”, at the same time.
2) Use keyboard key combination shown, for zooming in on a specific area of a sketch. After pressing the three keys, Ctrl + Shift + W, left click on a starting point for dragging a window around a specific area of a sketch, that you want to zoom in on. Keep the left mouse button pressed down while you drag a window around what you want to zoom in on, and release the left mouse button when you have the window size you want. A very handy command, that I find myself using on a regular basis.

Zooming Back Command
1) “Ctrl + Shift + E” is the keyboard key shortcut. Press the keys “Ctrl”, “Shift”, & “E”, at the same time.
2) Use the keyboard key combination shown, for zooming back, to show your entire sketch. Another very handy command.

Printing Command
1) “Ctrl + P” is the keyboard key shortcut.
2) Use to print a copy of the sketch.

Next Download a Piece of Furniture
Now that you have Sketchup downloaded, and know the keyboard commands shown above, you need a piece of furniture to look at, that has been drawn using Sketchup. Go to the following Link,

FOOTSTOOL___AJO – 3D Warehouse Search

This will bring up a Footstool, that I have uploaded to Trimble 3D Sketchup Warehouse. Left click on “Download to Sketchup “.

The image below is the Footstool at the Link referenced above. It’s a crude Footstool, but for explaining the commands noted above, It’s all that’s needed.

Let’s Examine This Footstool, Using the Commands Shown Above:
1) Pressing the “T” keyboard key, you can then measure the various parts of the Footstool.
2) Pressing the “O” keyboard key, left click (And keep the left mouse button held down) say on the right side of the screen, and drag the cursor to the left. The furniture piece will rotate toward the left. Actually, you can left click anywhere on the screen, and drag in any direction you wish, on screen. The furniture piece will rotate in the direction, that you drag the cursor. Release the mouse button, when the furniture piece is oriented as desired.

For example, if after pressing the “O” keyboard key, you left click (And keep the left mouse button held down) and drag the cursor up toward the top of the screen (And then release the left mouse button), you will see the underside of the furniture piece. This is illustrated in the Image below.

3) Press the “M” keyboard key, left click on the leg (on the left side, of the Footstool), and move the leg (By moving the mouse cursor), to the location shown on the Image below. When the leg is moved, to where you want it relocated, left click again, and the leg relocation is completed.

4) Press the “H” keyboard key, which activates the Pan function, left click (And keep the left mouse button held down), and drag the Footstool Sketch around on your monitor screen. Release the left mouse button after dragging the Sketch, to where you want it. Believe it or not, it’s a handy (No pun intended, really) command. I know I use it on a regular basis.
5) Regarding the “Ctrl + Z” command mentioned above, remember up above, how we went over using the Move (“M”) command, to dismantle a leg from the Footstool. Well, if you remove all four legs from the Footstool, you can then use our friend “Ctrl + Z”, to reassemble (So to speak) all four legs back onto the Footstool. If you remove all four legs, then hit “Ctrl + Z” four times, all four legs will be reassembled back onto the Footstool, one leg at a time.

And this appears to work, even if you use other commands, in between your Move (“M”) commands. At least this works, if the other commands have been the commands, Tape Measurer (“T”), Move (“M”), Orbit (“O”), and / or Pan (“H”). I love this command.
6) The next two Images demonstrate the use of the “Ctrl + Shift + W” command, for zooming in on a particular area of interest.

This first Image below shows how to go about dragging a window around the area you want to zoom in on.

After releasing the left mouse button, as indicated in the verbiage associated with the Image above, the Image below is zoomed in on.

7) After your thru looking at an area you zoomed in on, using the “Ctrl + Shift + W” command, you can use the “Ctrl + Shift + E” command. The “Ctrl + Shift + E” command will zoom back to show your entire Sketch. I think of it, as an unzoom command.

To zoom both in or out, you can also use the scroll wheel on your mouse. Turning the scroll wheel away from you, will zoom in on the Sketch. Turning the scroll wheel toward you, will zoom out on the Sketch. Not as robust as the “Ctrl + Shift + W” command, but the scroll wheel zoom feature does come in handy.
8) To print a copy of this Sketch, or any other Sketch, use the “Ctrl + P” command.

Final Thoughts
Sketchup is a powerful piece of software, even if you have no intention of drawing with it. And I say this because, well, lets use an analogy. Consider that in the pass, we used slide rules for number crunching, now we use desktop computers.

Now consider dimensioned furniture drawings in a book or magazine relative to dimensioned drawings in Sketchup. The drawings in the book or magazine are analogous to the slide rule, and the drawings in Sketchup are analogous to the desktop computer.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you would share it by email with a friend, or on Google+, and/or Facebook. While I am being needy, would you give me a “Like” on my Facebook page (Woodworking with AJO). My Facebook page “Like” button is on the right side of this page, or you can click on the link shown below for my Facebook page. Thanks a bunch.

Woodworking with AJO | Facebook

Until Next Time, Take Care
AL

Advertisements