Innovations and Solutions

Detailing in 3-D

OHD trim detailIf a picture is worth 1000 words, how much is a 3-D drawing worth?

A three dimensional (3-D) drawing is almost always easier to understand than a two dimensional plan view, elevation or section drawing because it adds depth. It looks closer to the way the sees things.

Trimble SketchUp is free 3-D modeling software (there is a paid version for heavy users). The program makes creating detail drawings like the one shown here a snap.

The value of 3-D is easily understood. I have drawn many 3-D or perspective drawings on the drafting table. Things that set 3-D drawings apart are:

  • They are neater, more professional (hand drawings are fine but not as crisp and clean)
  • You can easily add colors, textures and shading to SketchUp drawings
  • You can change the viewing angle – on the drafting table you are stuck with the angle you started with.

I would suggest 3-D detail drawings as an aid for any construction specs you want to standardize (If you need assistance contact me):

  • Soffit detailstruss 2 strongback
  • Coffered ceiling construction details
  • Porch post & rail details
  • Craftsman trim details
  • Custom built-in details
  • Work scope details
  • Framing details


SketchUp is also good for creative ideas. I wanted a portable storage rack for trim and millwork materials. It would go in a garage or inside a house under construction to keep materials organized, accessible and off the floor. I drew up this sketch and gave it to a carpenter to build.

He kind of scratched his head and built the five frames. It wasn’t until someone had assembled the rest of the unit that he had an ah-ha moment and recognized the value of the project. The vision was clear in my head all along. If I had given the carpenter a 3-D drawing likerack2 the one on the left, he would have been more enthusiastic from the beginning.

SketchUp is also great for other types of modeling. Here is an example:

I cut firewood. Cutting the limbs to size with a chainsaw is not efficient, so I invented what I call the Speed Limb-It. I take it to the woods, load it with limbs and cut a bunch to size all at once.  It works great! Here is a SketchUP drawing


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