When you are designing a piece of furniture in SketchUp there are a few different approaches you might take. You could start with a massing model which is essentially an empty box that from the outside looks like the piece but has no internal structure or you might model every part fully detailed. I tend to work in between those extremes. I generally model most of the parts as components but I omit the joinery. This makes allows me to think about how the piece will be built and ensure that it actually can be built. The lack of joinery also makes the inevitable modifications easier to manage.
In this video I’ll demonstrate how I go about fleshing out the joinery details after the design has the final sign-off from the client. This is a piece I designed for a client of one of my clients. The design brief was a sideboard piece for wine glasses only. The client wanted an Arts and Crafts vibe but she wants the piece to be built in walnut instead of white oak. I added the tiles from Motawi Tileworks to the backsplash to lighten the piece a bit.
My original design for this piece was only 14 inches deep and a bit narrower. The client asked for an additional 4 inches of depth and the addition of the center tile. These changes were very simple to make because there is no joinery. with the design finalized it’s time to add the joinery.
You’ll see in the video I only model one half of any joint and use it to model the other half. One very important thing that makes this work efficiently is that all of the parts are components, not groups, and they are all considered solid by SketchUp. In simple terms, components are solid if every edges is share by exactly two faces. So no stray edges, no holes in surfaces, and no internal faces. Hopefully you’ll find something useful for your own modeling.
Here are links to some extensions that make this process easy:
To cut the second half of the joints, Eneroth Solid Tools, which works only in Sketchup Pro or Bool Tools 2 which will work in SketchUp Pro or SketchUp Make. These do what the native Solid Tools do in SketchUp Pro but they respect the “component-ness” where the native solid tools convert the modified component to a group and don’t modify the other instances of the component.
To model the dovetail joints for the drawers I used the Dovetail tool in the Wudworx tool set.
Although Bool Tools 2 and the Wudworx tool set are not free, the time they save you is certainly worth the price.