Some woodworkers treat Google Sketchup like the second coming but I think it’s a waste of time, at least for me. I can grab a piece of paper and draw out my plans much faster than I can program it all into a computer. And since I never publish my plans, since I almost always simply make a single object and then the sketch goes into the trash, I don’t see the point of wasting the time when I could be building instead.
Yes, I think Sketchup makes some really good looking plans and if I was going to publish them or make the same thing multiple times, I can see where it might be worthwhile, but that’s a lot of time and effort for what I view as not a lot of return. After all, for me, the end product is a physical project, not a drawing on a piece of paper. Every time someone tells me that Sketchup is the best thing since sliced bread, I take a look at it and conclude that, again just for me, that isn’t the case. I can see where it could be made better, but really, as it stands now, it just isn’t what I need.
Now what I’d love to see is an actual cut list plugin that works. See, the only possible use I can see for Sketchup, at least for me, is to produce easy and automated cut lists. At the very minimum, you should be able to enter the size of your wood and have Sketchup automatically fit all of the pieces onto that wood to maximize efficiency. In reality though, it needs to do more than that because if you’re working with multiple species of wood, you need to be able to say which parts are from what species and have it make multiple cut lists. But what if you’re doing bookmatching? It needs to know that too and those bookmatched parts have to fit, one atop the other, so that you can resaw those parts at a later time.
But even so, none of that would be easy because you have to construct your projects step by painstaking step. That’s because Sketchup was made for architecture, not for woodworking. So you can’t say you want to put shelves in dados, you have to manually draw the dados and draw the joinery and construct your project inch by inch. It doesn’t do anything to automate the process, it doesn’t try to suggest how to make things better or easier or more efficient, it’s just a drawing program and, as I said, paper and pencils work faster and easier, at least for me.
That’s not to say that people who use Sketchup are bad or the program is awful, it just isn’t something that I find any use for. Everyone is different, I simply don’t find it useful. I just wish people would stop pretending that it’s a one-stop solution because, as I keep saying, it just isn’t.