Sketchup is too complex; other 3D design tools?

I just want to sketch up a simple woodworking project, a kitchen cabinet. I installed Sketchup up and looked at the tutorials, but it appears they have added a lot more complexity since the last time I looked at it, and now it is not the basic drawing tool I recall.

Is there a basic 3D drawing tool that uses orthographic projection to create simple rectilinear models? I want to draw the top and sides in 2D and have them projected into 3D. Sketchup seems to want me to draw directly in 3D, which is not very intuitive for this spatially-challenged artist.

Or is there an easier mode in Sketchup that I am missing?

I struggled with Sketchup at first, but once you get used to it it really is awesome. I designed our whole house with it. To build a simple cabinet:

  1. Go to Camera > Standard views > Top
    (This gets you looking straight down on your model.)

  2. Select the square drawing tool and draw a square, any size. Then type the dimensions you want it to be, for instance: 24,36 for a 24" x 36" cabinet (base size, not height).

  3. Select the push/pull tool, click on the square, and pull it up. Then type your height: 30.

That’s your box. You can rotate around it with the orbit tool (keyboard shortcut: O) NOT the rotate tool. That will rotate the box itself.

So now you have a cube. What else do you want to do?

Link? Is it it a trial version? Works for smaller items?
Can you list ID, OD, height, width, finish, and materials?

Can you list updates like tolerance changes, UNC required & tools?

Can you export it into a word doc or an email when you have it the way you want it?

Not a trail, it’s free software from Google. They have a pro version, but you can do a lot with the free one. You can work to any scale.

Yes to all except the last, I think. I’ve never tried exporting anything. Might be a pro feature.

i use it a lot. It’s not difficult at all. It helps if you use “group” frequently so everything isn’t connected. Makes making changes a lot easier! Over time, you develop an intuition about what needs to be a group and what doesn’t.

The current version of Sketch-Up lets you try it free for a period, then asks for money.

But there are older, totally free versions out there, available for download. Grab one of them, download it, and then ignore it every time it says, “Newer versions are available.”

Here’s a place to start.

More in line with what the OP actually wants…I don’t know of any easier-to-use 3D toy than Sketch-Up. I’ve downloaded trial versions of a few others, and didn’t care for them. Sketch-Up takes a while to get used to, and it has some quirks and bad habits.

(Say you want to move one corner of a cube, to make a pointy blocky thing. You have to hit “Escape” when you’ve got it where you want it, otherwise it will continue to follow your mouse, and you’ll have super-distorted results you didn’t want. Same with a lot of the drawing tools: you end up having to hit “Esc” quite a lot, to avoid “chaining” results.)

(Moving objects around in order to join them to other objects is also finicky. You get best results by moving them in one dimension, swiveling the view and moving them in another dimension, getting them close to where you want them, then zooming in and repeating. Very fussy. Objects “teleport” around, popping to locations you didn’t intend for them to go.)

The learning curve is steep and harsh, but, if you can stick with it, you can get some jolly nice results. Sad as it is to have to say, most other products are worse.

SketchUp was sold by Google to another company and the current Pro version is no longer free (though the older versions of Pro are).

The current basic version of SketchUp, “SketchUp Make”, is still free:

OP, SketchUp does do what you describe… just draw in 2D and then “push” to 3D.

Or there’s autodesk’s online tool… never used it, but looks like sketchup:

Maybe not as simple as Sketchup, but you may want to take a look at DesignSpark Mechanical.

Pencil and paper?


Yeah, I’ve used SketchUp for building plans and project plans, but for something not terribly complex that doesn’t need multiple copies and layers/levels a graph paper is very efficient. For most cabinets and built-ins thats as far as I need to go.

2020 Design is one of the industry standard programs for kitchen layout and lets you spec custom cabinets. There is a trial version, haven’t used it in a long time though.

Pencil and graph paper I meant to say.

I’m still working with Sketchup, and I’m sure there is a way to do what I want, but it is eluding me. Suppose I want to design a simple bookshelf, made of 1x6 pine boards. Do I have to draw each board in three dimensions? It seems tedious to draw rectangles, then pull them in to 3D boards of the correct dimensions every time I want to add a board. And dragging the corners to get the right dimensions seems clumsy and imprecise, as I can never get it to settle on the exact dimension I need.

Is there some resource I am missing that would allow me to input the dimensions of the board I need, then place it where I want?

Also, is there a way to set it to snap to a grid? The default dimensions are at 1/64" increments, but I really only need 1/4" increments.

Draw it once, make it a group (or component if you want multiple copies of the same thing that you can modify easily in the future) and then just copy it where you need it. Sketch-up will automatically space things for you either in-between end points, or carried forward at the same interval.

Hit the command key before you grab the drag icon, and you’ll get a copy. Space the copy 10 feet away, type in /5 and you’ll get 5 copies spaced equally in between. Type x5 and you’ll get 5 more copies each spaced another 10 ft from the last.

If the shelves are different, pushing/pulling rectangles to the proper length should be very easy. Sketch-up will automatically help you stop at the intersection of another object (say, the existing side of your bookshelf).