Just like learning piano

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There are lots of woodworking skills I covet, but leaning how to use SketchUp is probably at the top of my list.

I don’t do hand-cut dovetails very well, but I don’t need them often. Similarly, chisel work isn’t my best skill, but I’m OK at it and don’t need it often. I wish I could carve, but I so rarely do projects that require it that I’ve not devoted time to perfecting that either.

And that’s fine. On the infrequent times I need to do any of those three things, I can. I’m slow, but since I don’t do them often I don’t have the incentive to master any of them. But there’s one skill that – if I knew how to do it – I’d use nearly every time I designed a project, and that’s being able to use SketchUp.

SketchUp is a full-featured 3-D design program that can design literally anything, and it’s free from the SketchUp website. I’ve seen some wonderful demos and the results you can get. (Not seen one? Check out a short animation of a table design here.) And I’ve talked to several woodworkers who love it. According to all of them, it’s one of the easiest things to learn.

Then again, you could also say the same thing about playing the piano. Or cutting dovetails, for that matter. The bottom line is that you still have to dedicate time to learn it, time to practice it, and time to master it.

For me, that’s the hardest part. It’s one of those things I keep promising myself that I’ll do – that is, sit down and literally plan out a block of time to learn it – and then follow through. But something else is always at the top of my list of things to complete or deadlines to meet.

One of these days, though …

A.J.

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