Woodworking Projects

Creating a plan with SketchUp and LayOut

LayOut, which is part of the SketchUp Pro package, offers an easy way to create elegant looking plans from your SketchUp model.

Author Headshot By David Richards Sep 14, 2021

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SketchUp is a great tool for designing your woodworking projects. Once you’ve got your designs and all the details worked out you can then use the models to create plans for yourself or for others. LayOut, which is part of the SketchUp Pro package, offers an easy way to create those plans from your SketchUp model. In this video I’ll go through a few things I do in SketchUp to prepare for creating a plan and then show you an overview of setting things up in LayOut. This video is in no way meant to be a comprehensive tutorial regarding the use of LayOut but hopefully it’ll give you some ideas.

The model I’ve used here is one I actually created more than a decade ago based on the drafting table designed and built by L.Francis Herreshoff, a famous boat designed from the early part of the 1900’s.

Here are the basic steps I go through in SketchUp and LayOut.

  • All of the parts that need to be created in the shop are made as components in SketchUp.
  • The components are given tags so that their visibility can be controlled in the scenes.
  • And then scenes are created to show the model and the details.
  • Within the same model space I create copies of the components for exploded views as well as the 2D views for dimensioning.

After saving the SketchUp file it’s off to LayOut. For most projects I have templates already established but for this one, I didn’t so I did the following:

  • Select the desired paper size in Document SetupPaper.
  • Create layers for the different types of entities I’ll have in the document. In this case there’s a layer for the page borders and title block stuff, several for the SketchUp viewports and then breaklines, dimensions and text. Layer order is important in LayOut. Things on layers higher in the list will be displayed on top of those lower in the list.
  • Make the page borders and add the title text.
  • Insert the SketchUp model which creates the first viewport on the page. After the first viewport is created, it can be copied around the page and the desired scenes can be chosen for each copy.
  • Add pages as needed to show all of the required content.
  • Dimensions and text and other content such as spreadsheets, images, or text files are added.
  • When it’s all finished,  the file is exported to a PDF file which is ready to be printed.

Although I don’t show it in the video, there is a dynamic link from SketchUp to LayOut. That means if you have some reason to go back and edit the SketchUp model, those changes can appear automatically in the LayOut document. The dimensions will update automatically, too.

If this sort of thing looks like something you can use and you don’t currently have SketchUp Pro, there is a 30-day trial period available. go to SketchUp.com to get started.


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