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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the past week I have spent a few hours looking at tutorials of sketch up and I came to the conclusion that it is way too advanced for me. By the time I put it together on the computer, I could have built the bloody thing!
Are there any alternatives that are a little easier to use, I’m looking for basic. Just something that has the general shapes, I can work on exact sizes once I can visually see a project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the response Terry. That is what I do now and what I’ll probably end up sticking with. Just wondered if there was something out there that would look better when presenting ideas to others. I was definitely not blessed with artistic skills.
 

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For the past week I have spent a few hours looking at tutorials of sketch up and I came to the conclusion that it is way too advanced for me. By the time I put it together on the computer, I could have built the bloody thing!
Are there any alternatives that are a little easier to use, I’m looking for basic. Just something that has the general shapes, I can work on exact sizes once I can visually see a project.
I don't know how good you are with a computer application but FreeCAD is free and has a drawing workbench. And a great forum of people will and able to help you get going too.
Here is the link:

Click here to get FreeCAD

p.s. The new version 0.20 will be released on Monday the 13th of this month but for what you need the current version is fine and you can upgrade later. It's all free.
 

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For the past week I have spent a few hours looking at tutorials of sketch up and I came to the conclusion that it is way too advanced for me. By the time I put it together on the computer, I could have built the bloody thing!
Are there any alternatives that are a little easier to use, I’m looking for basic. Just something that has the general shapes, I can work on exact sizes once I can visually see a project.
I learned on AutoCad. Not an expert by any means, but able to get through 2D blueprints, which is really all I need. I tried to learn Sketchup, but found it frustrating to do what I did so easily in CAD. I finally found, after trying numerous others, Turbo Cad Designer. This version which gives me everything I need in a 2D format. I found the learning curve for me to be simple and straight forward and will set you back around $50. Their tech support is awesome. The commands are extremely similar to AutoCad, just named differently. What I like is the ease of dimensioning my drawings. If the dimensions do not add up, I drew it wrong. The nice part is it can read and edit .DWG files (Auto Cad), and can write them also. If you need a custom blade cut, or something done by a CNC shop, you can send them your .DWG file. I recently needed a custom profile of bead board milled out of MDF and simply drew the profile and gave it to the CNC shop.
For the past week I have spent a few hours looking at tutorials of sketch up and I came to the conclusion that it is way too advanced for me. By the time I put it together on the computer, I could have built the bloody thing!
Are there any alternatives that are a little easier to use, I’m looking for basic. Just something that has the general shapes, I can work on exact sizes once I can visually see a project.
 

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Sketch Up was not easy for me to learn. There are basic fundamentals on how it handles things that need to be first understood. I took some LinkedIn Learning classes that were a huge help. I also borrowed a book for beginners. I can do simple models, including importing a picture and creating a model from it. However nothing advanced. I find it so much faster to use a pencil, architect’s ruler, and graph paper.
 

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MS Visio is included in Office 365. I have used it for decades. I dont do anything fancy. For me, the ability to use layers is its best feature. Like most MS products, the Menus have gotten a bit obtuse here and there over the years.
 

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I suggest that you examine why you need or want to use any CAD system for your work. For those doing work for clients, it is a no-brainer. You can't beat it for presentation and quick changes. However, for your own work, I have found it to be of questionable value. Some years ago, I spent lots of time drawing my projects in a CAD system. I ultimately determined that I was spending an awful lot of time just manipulating the computer without accomplishing much toward working out issues with the project. I finally reverted back to pencil, paper, T-square, and triangles. Even then, I frequently only establish overall dimensions, and perhaps, details of some complicated areas of the project. The rest is measured and cut as I go. Sometimes, on simpler projects, only a free hand sketch is used.

Sketch-up and other CAD systems are pretty cool and fascinating and it is easy to get caught up in their processes. My advice is that you determine whether these processes really contribute to your end product and enjoyment.
 

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I suggest that you examine why you need or want to use any CAD system for your work.
I think he said he was looking for something that would look better when presenting his ideas to others. I don't think he elaborated on whether that means clients or friends/family for his own work.

Agree it is easy to get too wrapped up in planning. Also agree with your comment on enjoyment. If it takes away, especially when building for yourself, skip it. If it adds to enjoyment, go for it. At some point if the frustration of learning something gets to be too much, maybe it's time to stop.
 

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Thanks for the response Terry. That is what I do now and what I’ll probably end up sticking with. Just wondered if there was something out there that would look better when presenting ideas to others. I was definitely not blessed with artistic skills.
One alternative is to learn more about perspective drawing:
There are books on the subject and the basics are not difficult. You might find this more enjoyable and it will provide a more personal touch to your presentations to others.
 

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I suggest that you examine why you need or want to use any CAD system for your work. For those doing work for clients, it is a no-brainer. You can't beat it for presentation and quick changes. However, for your own work, I have found it to be of questionable value. Some years ago, I spent lots of time drawing my projects in a CAD system. I ultimately determined that I was spending an awful lot of time just manipulating the computer without accomplishing much toward working out issues with the project. I finally reverted back to pencil, paper, T-square, and triangles. Even then, I frequently only establish overall dimensions, and perhaps, details of some complicated areas of the project. The rest is measured and cut as I go. Sometimes, on simpler projects, only a free hand sketch is used.

Sketch-up and other CAD systems are pretty cool and fascinating and it is easy to get caught up in their processes. My advice is that you determine whether these processes really contribute to your end product and enjoyment.
I used to have a drafting table and go that route. What I like about CAD is it can easily catch my mistakes. It is very easy to read a scale ruler incorrectly, or simply write down the wrong number. Than can cause big issues in the build. It also allows me to see the project in scale, which a sketch will not do. I have had many clients give me beautiful sketches of what they want. When drawn to scale they are often visual failures. It is also easier to erase something I do not like and experiment rather than having to erase pencil lines, or re-draw the entire project. Layers make experimentation a breeze. With clients, I always draw the dimensions on a different layer and do not provide them. I had an experience when I owned a construction business where I left my blue prints with a client to review and they copied them and shopped them around. Easy to under bid someone when you don't have 8 hours into design and drafting. But I agree that if you do not use it enough to feel comfortable, you are better off with pencil and paper.
 

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I am also of the school that does freehand drawing - lousy as mine usually are. Here is the weird thing, I can 'read' my free hand drawings (as well as other's) easier than when I used my drafting equipment or look at a blueprint. I think others (potential clients) can also. I draw to scale using graph paper
 

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Had pretty much the same thing as you @stevenjohn21

I thought it might be a handy skill to learn and it seemed a great idea when I looked at peoples finished plans on it.

After many hours and days of looking at tutorials on YouTube and following their basic instructions , I just couldn't put the time in to make it worthwhile. It's too complex for me.

I am poor at drawing on paper but at least I know what I was trying to visualise when I look at it, so it's useful and very quick.

btw I do have a couple of e-books on it if you're interested though?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Had pretty much the same thing as you @stevenjohn21

I thought it might be a handy skill to learn and it seemed a great idea when I looked at peoples finished plans on it.

After many hours and days of looking at tutorials on YouTube and following their basic instructions , I just couldn't put the time in to make it worthwhile. It's too complex for me.

I am poor at drawing on paper but at least I know what I was trying to visualise when I look at it, so it's useful and very quick.

btw I do have a couple of e-books on it if you're interested though?
I may one day take another look at sketch up in the hopes they dummy proof it a bit, but for now I’m finding myself looking on Pinterest for ideas and then creating similar plans. If I can see it then usually I can build it and figure it out.
 

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Had pretty much the same thing as you @stevenjohn21

I thought it might be a handy skill to learn and it seemed a great idea when I looked at peoples finished plans on it.

After many hours and days of looking at tutorials on YouTube and following their basic instructions , I just couldn't put the time in to make it worthwhile. It's too complex for me.

I am poor at drawing on paper but at least I know what I was trying to visualise when I look at it, so it's useful and very quick.

btw I do have a couple of e-books on it if you're interested though?
I found SketchUp difficult. I learned on Auto Cad. I am not an expert, or even proficient, but I can draw what I need. What I Do Not need is pretty pictures to show clients. What I do need is simple 2D dimensioned blueprints. That is what I learned. As Auto Cad became ridiculously expensive I sought out to find a suitable replacement. I ended up with Turbo Cad Designer, about $70 bucks. It is an Auto Cad clone, pretty simple to learn. It has small differences such as where parallel lines are called "offsets" in Autocad they are called "parallels" in Turbo Cad. What I like is even though it has it's own file extension, you can also write, create, or open DXF files which is the Autocad and industry standard. This comes in handy when you need molding profiles cut or something sent to a CNC operator. Both likely work with DXF files.
 

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If someone comes in and wants a particular furniture piece made, or if I go to their home I make the freehand sketch on graph paper in a minute or two. Usually a front view and a simple isometric. If you want to make a sale, time is of essence. Get the down payment when the clients are hot. If you spend too much time with them, you will lose the sale.
If you are talking a large cabinet job, that may be a different story.
 
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