SketchUp for Timber Framing: Intro

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SketchUp is a powerful and effective computer drawing and modeling program for sharing ideas in 3D. The basic program, SketchUp Free, is a free browser-based program that offers many tools for the builder, timber framer, and designer. The program can be used as a sketching tool as well as a formal presentation tool for communicating concepts to clients and the shop. This workshop will cover the basics of the software and work toward completing a small timber frame design from rough sketch to client presentation.

We'll start with learning how to set up a drawing from the very beginning to avoid some of the most common modeling woes which plague inexperienced users. Students will start by setting up a grid, learn how to use grips to "snap" to set points and create components to prevent unintended results when editing. We'll use the mirror extension to take advantage of symmetries found in timber frames and the copy command to duplicate elements.

We'll learn how to set up view tabs to jump quickly from one scene to another, how to use styles to set up drafting views and rendering views, and how to use shadows, colors, and textures to enhance your drawings. We'll draw typical timber joinery and learn how to create a library of standard timbers and joints for quick modeling of each. Finally, we'll pull all the pieces together to create a fly-through rendering of your project.

If time allows, we'll look at ways to set up cross-sections to isolate frame views and to create the beginnings of formal shop plans. This will be covered more fully in the "SketchUp for Timber Framing 2 - Adding to Your Skill Set (Intermediate Level)" class.

This class is designed for the beginning SketchUp user. No previous experience is required or assumed.

Due to bandwidth limitations at the schoolhouse that would preclude the use of the browser-based version of the software, students will be required to bring a laptop preloaded with either the paid subscription version of SketchUp Pro or a free 30-day trial of the Pro version. (Previously available downloaded versions of SketchUp Make 2017 will also work.) It is also essential to have a 3-button mouse for ease of navigating and working with your 3D model.


Andrea Warchaizer is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture and has worked in the timber frame industry since 1990. After completing her architectural internship at Benson Woodworking, Andrea founded Springpoint Inc. in 1994. Her company provides design services to individual clients and consulting to the timber frame industry with a focus on site-sensitive, resource-efficient, healthful, and life-enhancing homes. Andrea has served multiple terms on the Timber Framers Guild Board of Directors and is an active member of the Governance and Education Committees as well as a member of the Timber Frame Engineering Council. In addition to her design work, Andrea teaches architecture and engineering classes at Timberlane Regional High School.

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