SketchUp: Beyond the Basics

Brian Benham

3D modeling has become a crucial part of the modern woodworker's skill set. SketchUp is an intuitive 3d modeling tool that is easy to work with and once you master the fundamentals, it allows you to design at the speed of thought. We are going to go beyond the basics and dive into modeling complex shapes. While extensions exist for making some shapes, there's incredible value in attaining the skill set required to generate the shapes from scratch, much like our craft of woodworking.

Best of all, this SketchUp course focuses on the 100% FREE web-based version of SketchUp.

If you're brand new to Sketchup, consider our Intro to SketchUp course!

  • 13 lessons
  • 369 min
  • $59.00

Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Sketchup: Beyond the Basics Intro

    In this class, we will get into some advanced modeling techniques.  There are many extensions available in the SketchUp Pro version that will draw many of the objects presented in this course much faster than what I show here.   However, using extensions is not the goal of this course; my goal is to help you […]

  2. Working with Textures

    In this video, we start out learning the basics of the paint bucket tool, what all the modifier keys do and how they work. The paint bucket tool has a shortcut key B Modifier Keys do the following Shift – To Paint all Matching Colors Control/Option – Paint All Connected Shift+Control/Option –  Paint All On […]

  3. Working with Mesh

    Sketchup is a mesh modeling CAD program, meaning it doesn’t create solid smooth faces on round objects; instead, it creates a mesh of small squares and triangles to simulate a rounded surface. If you think of the mesh-like pixels on a picture, if you have a low number of pixels, your photo will start to […]

  4. Small Geometry Error

    SketchUp was initially developed as an architectural tool to design buildings. However, with its intuitive interface allowing users to prototype rapidly, it has been adopted by furniture makers to design furniture. Unfortunately, sometimes the things we want to draw as furniture makers are smaller than what SketchUp was initially designed to handle. As a result, […]

  5. Shape Fundamentals

    These shapes are the foundation pieces of what we draw over and over when creating 3d modes.  They are basically the starting point for more complex shapes, a circle can become a sphere or a cone, a square can become a pyramid, etc. To make sure we are getting off to a good start, I […]

  6. Funnel Shapes and 3D Printing

    Before drawing the dust hose adaptor, we go through a few exercises on how to draw funnels and tapered circles, such as a tapered leg and a countersink in a board. A few important takeaways: When drawing circles that will become tapers or funnel shapes, it is best to pick an axes to pull your […]

  7. Spirals Part 1: Spring

    Drawing a helical/spiral shape is the foundation for the next set of videos. Even though there are extensions that will create springs, bolts, and screws for you in the pro version, understanding how to draw these will make you a much better 3d modeler. If you ever come up against a situation where an extension […]

  8. Spirals Part 2: Screw

    We will use what we learned from drawing the spring but add a second spiral to create a screw this time. When creating the screw tip and driver ends of the screw, there is a lot of geometry packed in a small space. I took my time and really looked to see where all the […]

  9. Spirals Part 3: Nuts and Bolts

    We will use what we learned from drawing the spring and the screw, but this time we will add inner threads in a nut that will thread onto our bolt. Then adjust the for tolerances. Adjusting for tolerances, as in how tight the nut fits on the bolt, is a deep subject and different for […]

  10. Spirals Part 4: Flame Finial

    This is the final lesson in our spirals section. We will be using some of the same techniques in the spring, spring, screw, and bolt lessons. But with the flame finial, we are adding an additional twist. Unlike the spring where it spiraled straight up, the flame finial will spiral up and to the center. […]

  11. Vice

    We are going to put it all together in this video by drawing a machinist’s vice.  I picked this drawing because it has a little bit of everything we have done so far.  It has a few different thread types on screws, as well as different head types.  It has a countersink funnel shape that […]

  12. Drawing Cutting Board Rack

    Since the cutting board was first invented, woodworkers have been selling them.  In this video, we design on the fly a stand to display our cutting boards at craft shows. Key Takeaways One thing that I do when designing something is draw in things that my design will interact with.  We did this in the […]

  13. Exporting for CNC & Printed Templates

    There are so many different CNC software options out there, from paid to free, that it would not be reasonable to demonstrate them all.  So in this video, I will go through as many different ways I can think of to export your drawings out of SketchUp in several different formats so you can choose […]


What Will I Receive?

  • 13 Detailed Instructional videos totaling over 6hrs
  • Downloadable Short-cut Key Cheat Sheets for Mac & PC.
  • Downloadable Shaker Table Model to practice on.
  • Downloadable Vice blueprint to work from
  • All videos are digital and will be available for download upon purchase.

What Will I Learn?

  • How to position and scale wood grain textures on your model
  • Troubleshooting techniques to edit and repair the mesh that makes up your 3d model
  • How to work with small geometry and overcome small geometry errors and quirks
  • How to draw fundamental shapes with native tools, that will make up more complex shapes
  • How to create funnel shapes, such as dust collection hose adapters
  • Different methods to scale your 3d model and components inside your model
  • How to draw helical/spiral shapes such as springs and screws
  • How to draw nuts and bolts that can be 3d printed and interchangeable with SAE Nuts and Bolts
  • How to prep your model and export for 3D printers
  • Design and 3d model a cutting board display rack.
  • Intro to exporting for print to scale templates
  • Multiple ways to export for CNC and Laser depending on what software you use.

What Will I Need?

  • A PC or Mac with a 3-Button Mouse. (trackpads are not ideal.)
  • An internet connection
  • A Trimble, Gmail, or Apple Account
  • The Free web-based version of SketchUp
    The last video in the series shows a few non-Sketchup pieces of software. It is not required that you have this software to take the class. The reason for the demonstration is to show different ways to get your model out of SketchUp so you can decide which method works best for you and your CNC software.

About Your Instructor:

Brian began his career in the trades when he was 13; he took an entry-level position working in a steel fabrication shop for a bridge construction company.  Being the kid in the shop, the old grizzled welders took pride in teaching him how to weld, set up his work area to be safe and productive, build jigs for production, and how to properly lay out a workpiece from shop drawings.

In his mid 20’s, he worked as a project manager for a design remodel company designing and remodeling spaces for commercial and residential clients. The company had an in-house cabinet shop so they could design and build from the ground up anything they needed for a project. When Brian wasn’t on a job site, you could find him in the cabinet shop, working alongside a shop master, creating custom cabinets and built-ins.

All these years of designing and building things honed his skills to give him the confidence he needed to start his own business.  In 2010 Brian started his design-build firm, Benham Design Concepts, specializing in designing and building custom furniture. His drive to learn new things has helped his portfolio grow and attract clients who are looking for the unusual.

Brian has been making plans for the Wood Whisperer and the Wood Whisperer Guild for several years now and often provides consultation on TWW and Guild designs.

His Instagram and Youtube handle is @benham_design